One Year Later: Free To Play. Topic Shamelessly Stolen From Shintar
I was reading Shintar’s post on F2P – one year later, and was about to pontificate in the comments when I realized that I had way too much pontificating to do than could fit into a comment.
Pay to Win? Nah
As a subscriber, I’m pleasantly surprised that there’s nothing in the market that would help me perform better in a raid or whatever. When the high-level ship parts were added to the market, that was sort of bullshit, but nothing like that has happened since.
Crafters and Fashion
Oy. Crafting. Shintar says that crafting has taken a big hit, and that is dead-on – and my biggest dissatisfaction with the new model. I used to have business because I bothered to track down every recipe and could offer obscure items that nobody else was making. I used to have business for at least orange bracers and belts, and that has completely dried up due to the cartel market.
The cartel market doesn’t take business away because every piece is cooler. It takes the business away primarily because of the convenience.
First: adaptive gear. I find that I, along with most others, browse the GTN for fashion with adaptive armor instead of my armor class. There may be a perfectly decent belt or boots or whatever that goes perfectly with an outfit, but the first instinct is to look at the adaptive armor.
Second: most pieces are wearable at level 1. You can just find something you like and be done with it, the whole way up. No “oh I love that shirt, can’t wait to wear it at level 39.” Nope, done.
Third: collections. This doesn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t see what the big deal was. To my shock, this got my previously-uninterested-in-fashion husband to start buying outfits on the GTN like a fiend. He now has unlocked 3 outfits in the cartel market and has an army of similarly-dressed alts and companions – with a few dye kits to give them a unique feel. He apparently likes the convenience of starting an alt, being able to generate an entire level 1 moddable outfit on demand for his toon and all the companions, and not have to do any additional thinking about it ever again. (Since I tend to mix and match AND dress all my toons uniquely, I have unlocked only one outfit so far.)
Without a doubt, the cartel market has the best fashion out there. I really thought that BW would limit cool fashions to the cartel market, and to an extent, it has. However, I’m glad to see that the rep grinds, as painful as they are, do lead to really unique fashions (I am excited about bounty hunter week). So there are alternatives. And also, while I bitch and moan (extensively) about fashion, it really isn’t a “pay to win” thing.
Here’s where it gets interesting with math. The cartel-to-credit ratio of some unlocks is very favorable to using cartel coins, and for others it pays to use credits. The cartel market and stipend gives me the chance to buy things that I would never normally have the credits for (rocket boots!). On the other hand, as a subscriber, I can still choose to pay credits for those items with an unfavorable ratio (such as speedering 1). All in all, this has led me to get more legacy unlocks and enhance my quality of life in the game.
I feel a little iffy about the decision to make Cathar purchasable with cartel coins. On the one hand, we should get everything, right? On the other hand, we get a stipend. If you view the monthly cartel stipend as a cafeteria plan, it is actually pretty advantageous. I have no bleeping interest in being a cat. This means that I can take the coins that would have gone to cat and put them toward something that interests me more. Instead of all-inclusive, it’s more of a “choose your inclusion.” Likewise, people who have no interest in pink hair don’t have to buy it.
The Secondary Market (GTN)
If people want to turn cartel coins to cosmetics, that’s their prerogative. I love that I can get just about any item I want for cold hard credits, as I always have been able to in any subscription model. I buy almost all my cartel fashion on the GTN, except if there’s a super-sale of something I really want. I also buy unlocks there if the price is less than the “unlock with credits” option (like third or subsequent cargo bay).
I don’t like gambling. I’d rather pay a premium for the contents of the box than to roll the dice on the actual box. But a lot of people like these boxes and apparently they’re a big money maker. When I went to the community cantina event that followed the f2p transition, I was told that on the first day of the cartel market, people had plopped up to $100 on cartel boxes. Like, not just their stipends but REAL MONEY.
Now, this annoys me because I think these overpriced boxes prey on some people’s addictive personalities. But it’s not up to bioware to babysit people and tell them to be responsible with their credit cards.
I am pretty peeved that most of the dyes may only be purchased via “dye packs” which are basically gambling boxes for dyes. Even if you find a box with a “good” dye, it may not be the one that you want. It’s practically mandatory to trade those on the GTN.
Limitations and Expectations
The F2P experience is a shitty one. I was actually looking forward to F2P, on the theory that I could simply buy a la carte the elements of the game that I do use (flashpoints and ops) and omit paying for the ones that I don’t (warzones and space). But that wasn’t really viable because the F2P experience is so limited. If I were to buy only the pieces I use, it would still add up to the cost of a subscription, and possibly even more.1
Then there was the QQ, which was unsurprising but annoying. You expect to play this game for free and still have access to everything your little heart desires? This feeling of entitlement isn’t unexpected. In general, on the internet, we expect to receive all the news for absolutely free and then grumble if reporters want to earn a living by charging a subscription – when previously we would have bought a damn newspaper and thought that was completely fair.
It turned out that F2P is inappropriate for most players and is only good for extremely casual players or people who are trying the game for the first time and don’t know if they want to subscribe.
There are parts of the F2P transition that I have liked a lot and parts that annoy the shit out of me (like “hey guys, btw, my week-long-ops pass runs out in the very middle of the raid tonight, LOL!”) but overall it hasn’t fundamentally changed the way I play the game.
- Someone did an analysis/spreadsheet of this and for the life of me I cannot find it now. ↩