Hi there, Bioware. It’s me again, with another open letter.
There are some things that you’re just going to have to give up on trying to charge F2P players for. The PR cost is not worth it!
Hide Helm. If you want players to have “full access” to experience this awesome story, nothing kills the mood quite like your carefully-created toon making muffled Kenny-noises from behind a bucket-head. Think about it this way: lack of hide helm discriminates against classes that don’t have unobtrusive circlet options. (Cough trooper cough)
Quickslots. Anyone who has played any MMO knows that two quickbars are just not enough. If you get past level 10, you will need another bar. Period. Ok, don’t give them all 6, but a 3rd that you could purchase with credits wouldn’t kill y’all.
Some Inventory Unlocks (With Credits). You’re going to need more inventory space before you even leave the starter planet. It’s just going to turn people off the game if they boot up the game, play for a few hours (I mean, literally, to level 10 is a few hours) and they already find themselves needing to make a purchase. Let them have the first inventory unlock for 5k in-game credits. Trust me, they will still need more and they will still buy more.
One Cargo Bay (maybe with credits). Seems to me that this is an integral part of having a ship. Maybe lower the number of slots in the first cargo bay, but it seems ridiculous for C2-N2 to be giving the ship tour with the cargo bay and… oh wait, no cargo bay! Not a big deal for the new player who has barely any stuff, but a huge deal for the returning player who will need at least some storage.
Guild Bank. Way to make F2P people who are in guilds feel like second class citizens. If the GM wants to restrict their bank access, that’s the GM’s business. Don’t make it even harder for GM’s to run their guilds.
And then I have the “things people aren’t going to care enough about so you might as well give it to them because they’ll never pay for it” group. For example: show titles, show legacy name. I’d be more inclined to pay for the option to turn that crap off.
These are the few little things that are really pushing the community’s buttons and making a lot of people hugely irate, even subscribers, even though these little items aren’t that expensive. The amount-of-money-earned to pissed-off ratio just doesn’t add up (yay, quasi-math).
Edit: Ah! Noreek says that the former subscribers will get to keep their inventory and cargo bay slots, whew. New players will still need to buy it. But my point about startup costs still applies: if you’re trying to lure people into the game, whether for the first time or for the second time, too many up-front costs are going to make them balk. Later on, when they’re more invested in the game, they’re more likely and willing to start investing in their characters. But when you’re first trying to see if you like a game and are going to stick with it (for the first or second time) you don’t want to outlay too much cash until you’re sure. Hence, why some people choose the 1-month sub plan and later switch to a 3-month or 6-month plan (that’s what I do).
Another problem with these things is that at the very start of your experience, you’re going to need them – not necessarily for the fresh new account (they don’t even have hats), but for people with high level toons that you’re trying to lure back to the game. Higher level characters will need support for their high-level lifestyle (such as inventory space, cargo space, and quick bars) right away. And when you think about buying this laundry list of items in the first month, it really adds up. Sure, you might not need to buy another thing for 3 months after, but the startup costs are going to be prohibitive.
In the big picture, there are going to be a lot of other things that people are falling over themselves to buy. I am subscribing and I will still be paying extra money to y’all for crap that I suddenly decided I must have. A dude commenting on my blog yesterday said he had already blown 100 REAL DOLLARS on cartel packs. All that stuff will more than make up for the losses in giving a few extra freebies.
P.S. After meeting all the super nice and awesome Bioware people last night, I feel like a total asshole posting this, but I did promise the twitterati that I would.