Archive for the ‘Swtor’ Category

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Since my days of playing World of Warcraft, through to my five year stint in LOTRO, I was an avid subscriber to the mmos I chose to play. I purchased the boxed, installed the games and month after month stumped up the required asking price for a subscription because I thought that the games would benefit from my financial support, plus the fact that f2p was never an option at that point as a valid business model for the games companies. These days however, almost every major mmo has a f2p option with others going f2p soon or already in the process of transitioning from a pure subscription business model to a hybrid of the two. A few mmos that are on the horizon are even going pure f2p, which you could have never imagined two or even three years ago. Creating a game in this way would have been seen as suicidal and just looking to fail. Not now.

When LOTRO moved from subscription to a hybrid, offering f2p to people who wanted to experience the world of middle earth and grind points to make purchases, or even buy points using real money, a lot of people thought it would spell the end of the mmo when in fact, Turbines revenue increased drastically. SWTOR moved from sub to hybrid model less than a year after it’s release due to a huge drop in subscriber numbers. I’ve never seen the game so busy now. Even Tera has recently moved to a f2p hybrid model and reports are that player base and income has almost doubled.

This beggers the question.. would a new, pure subscription model game be profitable and last?

There is a whole host of games out there, Triple A titles at that and a lot of them run a hybrid model where a vast number of the player base don’t necessarily play as f2p, but play as the hybrid where they spend money every so often and buy points, which they can spend on items or unlocks which are specific to their characters or play styles. I would say this is more considerate for people who don’t have extra income to expend every month of a game subscription and can buy parts of the game as and when they need them. There is also a section of the player base who just hate being tied into a contract, which is what subscribing is. Yes, it’s only a month to month rolling contract but it’s still a contract and that just doesn’t sit well with some people. Some games offer a lifetime pass, lotro being a good example of this. When the game was released they offered a lifetime subscription for £150, which basically means that you never pay a subscription again. All you pay for is any expansions that are released. GREAT DEAL!! you may say but not for the game company who has now switched to a hybrid model and no longer makes money from those players except once a year when they release an expansion. Turbine don’t like these people, lets at least be honest about it. Yeah sure, they give lifetime members 500 turbine points a month to spend in the store but they contribute nothing in terms of value to Turbine and lotro. People who still subscribe also receive those 500 points but contribute monthly to the running costs of the game and it’s upkeep. The people who spend real money on points are the cash earners for the company. 

But getting back to my point, With games on the market that offer f2p and hybrid models, which seem to be attracting the largest volumes of players due to these facts, I don’t think a game with a pure subscription base would get anywhere near enough revenue to be able to sustain this model, or even enough players to make it worth while.

What do you think?

As a little something extra,I’m going to list a few games which have changed from Subscription only to hybrid models so you can see the vast scope of this change of gaming business models.

LOTRO / Star Trek Online / SWTOR / Rift / Aion / Age of Conan / DDO / Tera / Final Fantasy XIV / The Secret World / DoTA 2 / League of Legends / Dust 514 / MechWarrior Online / Neverwinter (Yet to be released) / Planetside 2 / World of Tanks

These are just the BIG games, which could be described as A, AA or AAA titles. There is a further 4000+ games out there that are f2p.

Why would anyone pay a subscription anymore?

The Great Repairs Debate

Posted: February 19, 2013 in posts by John, Swtor
Tags: , ,

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So, remember that I posted a little while back about the latest bug fix in SWTOR that is causing such an uproar with the player base due to costing more credits in repair bills?

Well I have been watching the forums with great interest, particularly this thread which has reached 1058 posts at the time of writing this blog entry. It’s a thread of crying, moaning, threatening by players to unsub to the game and people defending bioware about the change that patch 1.7 brought to the game. I’m not going to bore people by repeating the reasons for this change since it’s in an earlier post so I’ll just skip to my point of this post.

As a result of the changes, people are reporting ridiculous repair costs on the forums,  ranging from what I consider to be normal to downright stupid values, and saying that it has to stop or they will leave the game. Before I get into discussing that, I’ll share something that I did earlier to test out the prices.

I took three of my level cap toons, each wearing various levels of gear. I repaired before leaving the base then went and died on each of them, recording the prices of the repair bills.

Gear Progression in SWTOR runs as follows:

Green – Blue – Purple – Tionese – Columi – Rakata – Black Hole – Campaign

– Dread Guard

The only exception to this flow is Orange customisable gear, which you can add ANY modifications to, effectively increasing it’s potency to any of the above levels.

Here are my results.

Daemridu / Sith Inquisitor / Full Columi with Rakata implants and earpiece = 10,143 credits

Zubra / Bounty Hunter / Full Tionese, including implants and earpiece = 6,117 credits

Bleadwyn / Marauder / Full Orange (level 50 blue mods) with Blue level 50 implants and earpiece = 2,808 credits

Unsurprisingly the higher spec gear costs more to repair, even though it is only light armour. What did surprise me though was just how little it cost me to repair on Bleadwyn, considering she’s not that far off the spec of Zubra. Obviously other people have opinions on repair costs but I don’t mind paying 10k per death on my main character considering I can easily make 600,000 credits in about two hours running daily quests.

Anyway, now I’ve said that I want to get to the real reason for this post. How people are reacting. I see a lot of people threatening to quit and un-subscribing over this matter (at least I think they are, forums are not the best place for truth after all) which just smacks of entitlement to me. They are really thinking that unsubscribing over a matter of in game money, which is not hard to come by, is going to make Bioware take action any faster that what they are? Do they not realise that when a game goes f2p, subscribers are the least of their worries because they pay a fixed rate each month. The real bread and butter of the game is the f2p and preferred players who will buy cartel coins on a regular basis, quite often spending more than they would for a subscription each month.

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If they do in fact unsub, they are not doing the game any good by doing so. The less players in the game, the less likely the bugs and issues will be addressed so by protesting in this manner, they are in fact harming the game than making it better. I’ve heard all the talk of “I’m a casual player and don’t have time to grind for credits” but that doesn’t wash with me. Killing a group of four enemies at level 50 will often result in gains of over 3k credits. This can occur just during general game play and doesn’t require grinding and you’ll make a significant amount of money. Crafting also generates money as does playing warzones and doing space missions. From looking at the thread above, it just seems to be the people who do nothing but end game raids that are complaining, yet the people who actually play everything the game offers are having no problems making up for the increase that this fix has brought to us.

Well I guess playing through a few space missions a day isn’t hardcore enough for some people.

Star wars The Old Republic has always been a game that rewards you greatly for success and only penalises you a little for failure. It’s a game which it’s incredibly easy to make a vast sum of money in while just generally playing, never mind selling crafting resources and playing the GTN but as discovered recently, that has been a bug in the game since update 1.2, which was deployed 8 months ago.

 
Repair bills are a necessary part of playing an mmo as they do a few things.
1. The stop players from being able to stock-pile HUGE sums of cash.
2. They take money out of the in-game economy, helping to keep prices down on the GTN.
 
Before patch 1.2 was released, repair bills were virtually non existent due to a bug which meant that items were only being priced for repair by their shell level, and not the mods and enhancements held within the shell. Essentially you could wear level 10 orange modifiable armour with rating 124 or above enhancements and mods (Tionese level +) at end game and suffer pretty much no repair costs during a raid wipe. This was noticed and deemed to be unfair as wearing high spec gear should not cost the same as level 10 stuff at level 10 so the repairs sytem was modified with patch 1.2 to include the mods in the repair costs, or at least they thought that it did. Turns out that it didn’t.. and only included the armouring modification.
People did see an increase in their repair costs, especially at level 50 running end game content but it was still not WAI and the people at Bioware failed to pick up on this so people have been running around wiping on ops or hm fp’s and not incurring the real costs of those wipes.
This has now been noticed and fixed with the 1.7 patch and people are going CRAZY on the official forums because what was once a 30k full ops repair bill has turned into a 300,000+ repair bill. There has even been reports of a guild who wiped at least 10 times on Denova Nightmare Mode and incurred 2 million+ repair bills EACH!!!
Now, money is not hard to make in SWTOR, at all. My Bounty Hunter has approx 3 million credits on him right now, although I can’t gain access to that due to not being subbed any more but my point is that it is VERY easy to make money. You can make 400k+ per day if you want to run all the daily quests, which takes approx 2-3 hours. Playing the GTN can also be VERY fruitful with lucky drops and selling crafting materials but the degree in which the repair bills have drastically increased over the last few days is just shocking. I guess you could view that as because we’ve been used to playing with a bugged system up until now and that finally suffering the true costs is shocking us.
Maybe if the repair costs had been right from the start then people wouldn’t be spending vast sums on the GTN because they have “Spare Cash” laying around. Maybe we wouldn’t be spending stupid amounts on new alts to give them a minuscule advantage at low level (I have spent 500k+ on new level 10 characters in the past) and we would be more careful with our in-game cash.
 
As a level 50 player, I have many was which I can earn enough cash for running ops and for repair bills BUT the people that I really feel for are the f2p players who have a currency cap of 200k. With leveling repair bills been recorded of up to 30k on a single death, 200k won’t last very long at all. While I would normally say “That’s a drawback of being f2p ad they should consider at least going up to preferred status”, even I have to admit that the new “Fix” is punishing people to a much higher degree than anticipated. Maybe if this had been WAI from the start, the f2p cash cap would be higher but the real shame is that because they are f2p, they can’t post on the forums and discuss this matter.
 
So while it’s good that Bioware are fixing bugs, they need to reduce the repair costs once again.
This time last year it seemed that nothing could pull me away from Lord of the Rings online, apart from the odd day playing SWTOR (which I still play to this day).  I was nothing but happy with this MMO. I would spend hours grinding reputation, crafting, levelling characters, raiding, talking to the friends I played with. It seemed that nothing could take me out that game. Nothing could tease me away from it. I was one hundred per cent not interested in any other game. Until the lag made it impossible for me to do these things that I love, but that is for another thread. I began looking and speaking to my fellow gamers. I began to pay complete attention toGuild Wars 2. It looked awesome! I couldn’t believe how blinded by LOTRO I was, people had tried to show me how great it was but I just wouldn’t listen. I brought out the credit card and paid for two copies that day. The beta weekend had just started so when people where playing I was downloading the client on two PC’s.  I never played until the next day and what I saw just baffled me to begin with. Everything was just so different from your generic MMO clone. Now don’t get me wrong I had not just played LOTRO and SWTOR up until this point, but I had also tried GWAionRiftDDO, and had a brief 12 hour shot of WoW. The first experience of this game smashed them all out of the ballpark.
This experience made me look around me. I wanted to experience it all. I did not want generic clones, or the holy trinity. I wanted to see what I was missing, see the game’s that I was not paying my full attention too. LOTRO’s lag issues though frustrating was the best thing to happen to my gaming life. I started paying more attention to SWTOR, with the storyline and space combat grabbing my attention and seeming new and shiny. I wanted to never be blinded by one singular MMO again. I was not content with open tapping, everyone receiving loot, open world environment, crafting changes, voice acting, space missions, and the ability to play a character how you wish.
So I heard about The Secret World going pay once play forever. I’d looked at this when it launched and thought it looked brilliant. But I did not want to pay for a subscription, especially when I had just bought GW2 which had no subscription attached to it.  The big appeal to me here is that I can role one character and be whatever role I want. I was an altaholic, always bringing up alts so we’d have the correct balance in raids. Do not get me wrong, I am not moaning about it. I was not held at gun point with someone screaming in my ears, “LEVEL A LORE-MASTER… HURRY UP!”.  I enjoyed it. But this game made me think that I would never need an alt because I could just level up every weapon within the game. Also there are no physical levels, you level up within your secret faction, be in Dragon, Templar or Illuminati. It is also an open world environment, with loot sharing and open tapping.  It is also set right now, so things that are global phenomenon’s such as Gangnam style are actually within this game. Its real world setting also seemed like a big change for me, and I enjoy wandering around London and using Google maps to see if it really does look like it does within the game.
So now with the MMO genre smashing down the very bounds that once made them all similar but with different settings what do you think? Do you feel saddened that all new MMO’s seem to be moving away from the bounds that once held them? Do you hope that new games to come are different from their counterparts or do you wish they’d all just stop bring out stuff that seems shiny and new but in your eyes is just a distraction from grinding end game until the new patch comes out? With even LOTRO jumping onto the open world environment train what will be next for MMO’s within the next year to come. 2012 changed my gaming life, let’s hope 2013 adds to my experience and the open world environment will not become the new generic clone.
Written by Emma McHugh

Reputation Grinding…

 
 
With the next SWTOR patch introducing a Galactic Reputation system into the game, I have found myself pondering over my past gaming experiences of faction reputation and if it is a good idea to include such systems into games.
Lets get back to basics here. Reputation systems are a way in which the developers can increase content via a grind system which makes players achieve points towards ranks and eventually rewards by making them repeat certain content or via grinding mobs for drops.
This system has been used in many games and through personal experience of the system in LOTRO, I can say with an honest heart that it’s not one of my favourite things to do. Throughout my past and present gaming, grinding is not something I like to do. I can admit that it is sometimes a necessary task, in order to get that extra 50 morale via a trait you grind for, or in order to wear a specific item of armour or even cosmetic clothing but for me it just takes away from the fun of the game by taking up my time doing repetitive content.
I remember back playing LOTRO when the game was first released and in order to gain reputation with certain factions you ended up having to kill mobs for hours, hoping for item drops which you could then trade in for reputation points with the appropriate faction. The rewards for gaining maximum reputation were good, well at least some of them were but I know a lot of people who did it just because they are addicted to completion and just HAD to have that reputation bar full for each and every faction in the game. With LOTRO getting older and adding more content, the number of factions grew to a point where it was just getting stupid. The latest expansion pack contains four new factions, taking the total in the game to twenty-six. Sure, you may think that by the time the newest expansion arrived that most players would have all the other factions already completed, thus reducing the grind to just four further factions but the kicker is that these factions have to be gained on every single character you create, if you want to have full completion on all of them.
That is just insane in my opinion.
Thankfully those good people at Bioware have taken the new Galactic reputation system and tied it in with your legacy, meaning that you only have to gain the required reputation for each faction once. by making this account wide, they have greatly reduced the perceived grind requirement to just one character.
Another good part is that they have also tied it in with daily repeatable quests which you can run at level 50 on specific planets and also to general heroic quests which are scattered around on all the planets in the game, although at the moment of this going live only Voss and Belsavis heroic missions will count towards their factions. Hopefully more will be added into the game at a later point.
A friend of mine said something while discussing this on a post on our guild forums which fits the SWTOR system perfectly in comparison to the LOTRO  system.
“One grind to rule them all.”