Punishment or Gameplay?
Posted by Player Versus Developer [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 November 2012, 7:30 pm
"In an earlier draft of F2P, we had it so that F2Pers couldn’t use spacebar inside cutscenes and we almost had a riot inside this building. So we being listening to feedbacks the whole way."
 - Dulfy's transcript of a Bioware Q+A
As context for those who have never played SWTOR, the space bar is used in cut scenes to interrupt the NPC who is talking and make them start their next line of dialog.  This can be used when you have to repeat a conversation - for example if you do a quest over (either an alt or as a repeatable quest) or cancel out of a dialog because you were unhappy with the results.  However, the main association that SWTOR players have for "spacebar" as a verb is for the equivalent of refusing to read quest text.  The only difference is that in SWTOR, that "text" is the result of expensive voice acting that had a huge impact on the game's budget.

Having explained that, I have absolutely no idea what Bioware's business people - who unlike myself are presumably paid a decent salary to know what they are doing on this front - could be thinking.  The very idea of using the hallowed "fourth pillar", Bioware's epic story, as a punishment that non-subscribers would have been forced to endure boggles my mind. Bioware has not been afraid to think outside the box for good or for ill - and more often (e.g. restrictions on hotbars) for ill - but this one is absurd. 

During the past week, including the Q+A, Bioware has relaxed more of the restrictions imposed on preferred non-subscribers (i.e. lapsed players and those who have spent money in the cash shop).  Preferred players will now have four hotbars - the number the game launched with - and six character slots (up from two currently, and close to the eight that subscribers had at launch, though this limit is supposedly per account rather than per server).  

On the one hand, they're willing to give away a tremendous amount of stuff that would have been worth paying for.  However, they're on the record as unwilling to budge on things like credit caps, mail restrictions, and content pass pricing that greatly reduce how attractive it is to pay for anything as a non-subscriber.  I get that Bioware is very afraid of being dependent on creating new content for revenue, and would prefer for players to subscribe.  It just seems strange that every change they make shifts the game away from a state where people who won't subscribe are still paying for the game and closer to a state where a single one-time payment is all most players will ever need, want, or have the opportunity to make. 



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