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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2012-08-02 09:14:32
Free to Play
So many big budget MMORPGs have come and gone, attempting to replicate World of Warcraft's success. Numerous game studios have succumbed to bankruptcy in the process. It's something of a wistful event to see these vast game worlds shutter into nonexistence.
The Old Republic is backed by BioWare/EA's deeper pockets, so they're able to transition to a hybrid free-to-play model. One of their executives made some noise about how this decision wasn't motivated by declining subscriber numbers, but everything that spews from that species is raw untreated bull sewage.
They'll still retain a subscriber option, creating a division between elite paid citizenry and second-class F2P moochers. And they'll try to fleece both classes with as many microtransactions as possible before the game dwindles into oblivion.
Future makers of MMORPGs need to avoid making World of Warcraft clones. Find something different to do, like how the EVE Online people managed to do. And build your game's systems around a sustainable business model; it's tough to transition your content smoothly after the fact.