Microtransactions for SWTOR all but confirmed in Beta Agreement

 I wrote an article about six months ago regarding a Bioware Austin job listing that hinted at microtransactions being used in SWTOR. Well, as many of you may know, beta signups went live over at the SWTOR site yesterday. Here's what I found while reading through the fine print in the beta testing agreement: 
 
(H)    You acknowledge and agree that all points acquired during the Game Program are non-refundable and have no monetary value.  

(I)    You acknowledge and agree that all items acquired for points during the Game Program are non-refundable and non-tradable.

(J)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to add or remove points to your account at any time and without warning.

(K)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to change/add/remove points rewarded  in the Game store at any time and without warning.

(L)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to change/add/remove items collected or updated, modify or remove any items in the Game at any time and without warning.

(M)    You acknowledge and agree that points acquired during the Game Program cannot be saved up for or used in the commercial version of the Game.

(N)    You acknowledge and agree that all points will be removed from your account before going into the next test phase (if applicable).

(O)    You acknowledge and agree that points acquired during the Game Program do not entitle you to any points during any other test stages (if applicable) or for the commercial release of the Game.

 
This seems to be proof that there is, at the very least, a microtransaction-based SWTOR store in the works. Only time will tell whether this store constitutes the entire fee structure for the game, or if this points system is in addition to a monthly fee.
 
What do you think?

21 Comments
22 Comments
Edited by MB

 I wrote an article about six months ago regarding a Bioware Austin job listing that hinted at microtransactions being used in SWTOR. Well, as many of you may know, beta signups went live over at the SWTOR site yesterday. Here's what I found while reading through the fine print in the beta testing agreement: 
 
(H)    You acknowledge and agree that all points acquired during the Game Program are non-refundable and have no monetary value.  

(I)    You acknowledge and agree that all items acquired for points during the Game Program are non-refundable and non-tradable.

(J)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to add or remove points to your account at any time and without warning.

(K)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to change/add/remove points rewarded  in the Game store at any time and without warning.

(L)    You acknowledge and agree that BWA reserves the right to change/add/remove items collected or updated, modify or remove any items in the Game at any time and without warning.

(M)    You acknowledge and agree that points acquired during the Game Program cannot be saved up for or used in the commercial version of the Game.

(N)    You acknowledge and agree that all points will be removed from your account before going into the next test phase (if applicable).

(O)    You acknowledge and agree that points acquired during the Game Program do not entitle you to any points during any other test stages (if applicable) or for the commercial release of the Game.

 
This seems to be proof that there is, at the very least, a microtransaction-based SWTOR store in the works. Only time will tell whether this store constitutes the entire fee structure for the game, or if this points system is in addition to a monthly fee.
 
What do you think?

Moderator Online
Posted by Bwast

It depends what the microtransactions are for. If they are for cosmetic items, I have no problem. If they are for combat-usable items, then we have an issue. As long as player x doesn't have an advantage over me because he forked over the extra 10$, I could care less about microtransactions. As for it being the whole fee structure for the game, I don't think that will happen. I have a hard time believing that enough people would be interested in paying real money for a non-combat pet version of R2D2 to support an MMO. I may be underestimating the level of nerdgasam that would erupt from that, but I think that the game will have the traditional 15$ monthly fee, with optional microtransactions for cosmetic/novelty items.

Edited by MB
@Bwast: What do you think about something like an increased rate of experience gain for an additional fee?
Moderator Online
Posted by demontium
@MB: That would be bad 
Posted by Bwast
@MB: That's a good question. A lot of people are really against such a thing and I can see where they come from but, as far as I can see, it doesn't really affect me or my game experience. If someone paid money to get a sword that killed creatures or me in 2 hits, yeah I'd be pretty angry. But if they want to pay money to gain a little bump in an experience rate, more power to them. Assuming the end-game of SWTOR will be a gear treadmill like WoW's, people will want to blast through the leveling process and get into that stuff as soon as possible. You could make the argument that they shouldn't be playing MMOs if they want to blast through the leveling process but I think that end-game systems like WoW are 2 entirely different games. The leveling process is one game, and the PvE is another(PvP is pretty much non-existent in WoW right now so we'll just leave that out ;P). Also, people that don't have enough time to devote to an MMO could maybe want to pay a little extra money so that they can stay caught up with their friends who have more time to spend on the game. Again, you could make the argument that maybe MMOs aren't for them. 
 
How much of an experience rate should be granted this way? I don't really know. It's an interesting subject and I wouldn't be surprised if  the devs bring it up at some point.
Posted by MB
@Bwast said:
How much of an experience rate should be granted this way? I don't really know. It's an interesting subject and I wouldn't be surprised if  the devs bring it up at some point. "
I'm not sure, I've never really thought about it before now. However, if I were marketing this feature and trying to get people to pay for it, I'd say it would have to be a 2x multiplier for however long the bonus was active. I'm not sure if I would pay for such a thing or not...probably not, unless I was on my second character and wanted to get through the leveling process as quickly as possible. Then again, it would depend on how much they were charging for it also.
 
I'm not necessarily against a game store as long as it's done right. However, this is EA we're talking about here.
Moderator Online
Posted by Bwast
@MB said:
I'm not necessarily against a game store as long as it's done right. However, this is EA we're talking about here. "
Battlefield Heroes has microtransactions in it and that's by EA as well. I haven't heard anything really about that game good or bad, but I think that would be a good place to guess at how far they are willing to go with it. According to Giant Bomb's page, it has a paid XP boost feature. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Posted by Rob

At the end of the day people are going to try to find ways of speeding the leveling process and doing something like this may discourage people using a third party service to level their character for them. I remember when I was playing WoW, just before the burning crusade came out I decided I really wanted to level a Druid up to take on the expansion with but I just didn't have time I got it up to the mid forties and started thinking about using a service to get me an extra bump in the end I didn't because I was concerned about the security implications of doing this but ultimately I feel that if I'd had something in game to help me through this process (and this was my third character trying to get to level 60) it would have been good for me.

Posted by crusader8463
@MB said:

" @Bwast: What do you think about something like an increased rate of experience gain for an additional fee? "

Breath..Breath... There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force.  
 
  Ok clear mind. To be honest my gut reaction to any form of nickle and dimming is no, get that shit away from my game! Especially when its being done by a company like EA that has a proven track record of bending you over the Sabacc table and taking you for everything they think they can and then some given the opportunity. For me it honestly ruins a game and makes it very hard to enjoy playing it. Even if they only do something like: 2x XP gain, instant transportation to a zone, or regen Health/Force Points faster, it makes me feel like there is a part of the game i cant access because i dont have the money to pay for it. It always makes me feel like there is this special club or version of the game i cant get in on because i dont have an extra $20-$30 a month to spend on "EA PointZ" to buy this stuff. To me finding the $15 a month to pay the subscription fee is a hard thing to do some times, and that $15 is the price i have to pay to play the game. Thats fine i accept that. Running an MMO takes a continuous stream of cash to pay servers, pay employess to make new content, and pay the housing and electric bill to host them all in. Thats fine, but when you add a seconed level of payment on top of that it cheapens the whole thing and makes me feel like i'm not important enough to get the full game just because i dont have as much money as every one else does. It cheapens the time and effort i put into the game to level up a character when some rich jack ass can get the exact same thing with half the effort and time just because he makes more money then i do. 
 
I get enough of that shit in my life i don't need it in my games too. I play games to escape from this world not to relive it in a different form. As much as i love Star Wars and am looking forward to this game, if they go forward with this and EA does it as badly as i have all expectations of them doing it, it pains me to say it but i might have to pass on this game. No matter how fun it is, or how little they add in micro transactions there will always be a part of me that is angry that I'm not playing the game to its full experience or that i have am playing an artificially harder game because i cant afford to pay for the Platinum services.
Posted by WinterSnowblind

I'd be happy enough if they offered a subscription model as well as a free, D&D Online style model where you get the basic game, but have to pay to get a lot of the updates.
 
I'm looking forward to the game immensly, but I'm not willing to pay a flat fee each month.  I have a fairly busy life, I don't always have time to be playing games and when I do, I don't want to be stuck playing one game just because that's the one I happen to be paying through the nose for.
 
But I think some people are confused about what micro-transactions entail.  You won't be paying for each little piece of content that goes up, you won't be paying to get more health potions or ammo, chances are it'll just be like new DLC packs that are released every so often, featuring new planets/areas to explore, with a bunch of new quests, weapons and armour, etc, included.  Like I said before, I'd much prefer that system, but it'd be even better if they could simply do both like Dungeons & Dragons.  If some people would rather pay monthly to recieve everything instantly, let them. But for the rest of us who'd prefer to only get new content if and when we want it, let us do that as well.
 
That way more people can play, and the game benefits from a bigger community.

Posted by Phantom_Crash

I dont think they will have Micro, I think they are just covering all the bases in case they do though, its all legal jargon.

Posted by mracoon

The only thing that would hold me back from getting this game would be subscription fees so it's good to see that they're going to go with microtransactions as a way to make money. Now I only hope that you can buy things that change your appearance and not items that will give an advantage over other players.

Moderator
Posted by Darniaq

Subscription or MTX or both, what's the difference? People will either enjoy it or not on the merits of the game experience itself. How they monetize it is separate from that.
 
Now, having said that, it's easy to see how either business model would affect the game experience itself.  This is because it's important to have both on the table for a game that's going to be a global opportunity for them: subs work better in some markets while MTX works better in others.

  • Flat fee only means the leveling advantage goes to those with more time and/or RMT for their advantages. This is older than the term "MMORPG" so it's not anything new. But it is all about getting people to sign up for recurring payments and means a direct comparison to WoW.
  • MTX means trying to find ways to get players to buy items that don't unbalance the game but which convey enough of "something" to be worth buying. But this also means getting a lot more people than WoW to sign up because recent history has shown you can perhaps get maybe 1-5% of that playerbase to buy anything at all.
I am guessing they'll thread the needle in some way: over Subs as "premiums" with some sort of recurring tithe paid to characters as well as MTX for players who don't want to sign up for a recurring payment and buy cosmetic upgrades. Maybe they'll make them separate servers, and maybe they'll pick just one for launch and save the other for later.
Posted by Adamantium

Microtransactions for cosmetic items only. Anything else is uncool and unfair, IMO. 
 
Money makes the world go round, but we play games to escape our reality. I don't want to be offered "more" or "better" gameplay if I'm willing to pay more and more for boosts, stat builders, or extra experience points. Cyberspace used to be the one place where everyone was equal regardless of how much they could shell out for a game. Sadly, more and more games are coming out that allow folks with more money to burn to gain an advantage over those who don't have as much, and that's lame. RMTs have ruined the standard for MMOs, as companies are now trying to get LEGITIMATE (read: abiding by the TOS) players to pay more to compensate for their losses to RMT rings, instead of going directly after the RMT rings without creating a drag on the player base. It's bass-ackwards, IMO.
 
I make enough money to spend on MTX stuff if I wanted it, I'm just opposed to it in principle.

Posted by jakob187

..........fuck.

Posted by CL60

It may just be for cosmetic items.

Posted by Subterfuge3927

Just a friendly FYI, Dungeons & Dragons Online(DDO) successfully increased revenue 175% going from Sub to F2P with MT.  Now, I play DDO completely FREE, never having paid ANYTHING to enjoy the world.  IF I wanted to, I could purchase DLC/Expansion packs. GuildWars is another model of F2P that successfully monetizes character slots, expansions, etc.  F2P does NOT kill a game, or make it a nickle & dime.  F2P makes the player base HUGE compared to subscription based models, and IF the paid content is compelling, it generates revenue on said merit.  DDO and other games do NOT sell items that give ANYONE an unfair advantage over other players.  All current F2P with point/store models provide a method to earn FREE points to spend in the store from gameplay.  F2P is a blessing, not a curse.  Pay for the content you want, and not the stuff you don't, that is the American way.  A great example is the Lord of the Rings Online.  I am a lifetime member, having paid for a lifetime subscription upfront.  After 18months, I was essentially playing for free. LOTRO is now going F2P, and all of you that have/would never play LOTRO will have the opportunity to try it out:

http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/
 and see why many members of the MMO community love it.  WITHOUT paying/renting for the experience.  Now if you like LOTRO,you can buy premium classes (just options really, no better or worse than other classes), extra character slots, bank space, etc.  Check out the table here:
http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/vipchart.html
Posted by Karkarov

Just as a heads up people who played the demo's at E3 and grouped earned something called "Social Points" when they completed quests in a group.  These terms keep using the word "points" alot and it is already confirmed that it will be a monthly fee style game so lets not just the gun just yet.  Other than the term "Game Store" all of this is actually fairly generic and could have been blizzard taking about honor points or any number of other things.   Lastly bear in mind it also says "rewarded" in front of game store, not purchased.  So I am not saying their won't be MT's but I am saying this isn't evidence that there will be.

Posted by MB
@Karkarov:  Thanks for the interesting analysis...I'm still intrigued as to how they will monetize SWTOR even though I wrote this blog nearly a year ago now.
Moderator Online
Posted by Karkarov
@MB said:
" @Karkarov:  Thanks for the interesting analysis...I'm still intrigued as to how they will monetize SWTOR even though I wrote this blog nearly a year ago now. "
Definitely, I just wanted to throw out my impression from what I learned as a result of the E3 demo's.  They could go both ways like Cryptic does with Champion's Online and Star Trek Online.
Posted by TheDuke

only cosmetic and i'll be happy 
i have no problem with them selling stupid things that don't give someone an edge over the others
none of the can't access this dungeon unless you pay this fee or can't get incredibly beast sword unless you buy it
no experience augmenting 

Posted by Levio

As always, reserve judgment until we know all the facts.  And then judge severely, because we don't put up with money-sink cash-grabs.