According to Werit Mythic has invited several bloggers down to their offices, which invariably means they have something to show/tell them. Since most people have already offered their thoughts on what this announcement might be (or are still busy guessing), let me add my two coppers (as in money made out of copper ore and not policemen, as I don’t actually own any, though that would be nifty too).
WAR is going free to play. There, done.
All right, I’ll elaborate, if you insist:
- It’s pretty clear WAR isn’t where most people would want it to be. It’s limping along all right, but for it to be pulling press and subscription numbers Mythic could actually work with, a big change needs to happen. Something like an expansion big enough to be considered a reboot in itself, but a project of such scope would surely cost a lot of money. Which I’m not sure EA would be prepared to invest in an injured game. The alternative is making the game more accessible by making it free to play. It would pull a lot of press, greatly increase player numbers and have the game still making revenue, or even more revenue than it currently is…
- EA have stated that they consider the f2p market to be very profitable indeed, as profitable as the console market even (which is widely regarded by publishers to be the gold mine for AAA titles). With the explosion of games going f2p and doing very well, you can be sure that EA aren’t talking out of their asses (though most of the time I wouldn’t fault you for that assessment). Wouldn’t it make sense for them to switch one of the soon to be four BioWare Mythic’s MMOs to f2p, especially the one they consider hasn’t exactly paid for itself and requires a lot of funds to be kept afloat?
- Lately WAR has also had a fondness for microtransactions. The “expansion packs”, vanity pets, server transfers, name changes, mounts, etc… It’s all starting to resemble a hybrid revenue model based on both an item store and a monthly fee. Admittedly, the item store needs to be fleshed out, but we’ve seen some of that happen overnight. Completing the process by developing the microtransaction side of things and getting rid of the monthly subscription is the next logical step, isn’t it?
Those are the three big reasons for WAR taking the plunge. As I see it, currently the subscription model is only holding the game back. It’s doubtful it would be able to recover and regain some its former glory simply by giving it time (not that we obviously haven’t tried that). No, it’s clear Mythic/EA need to do something and knowing EA I’m not pinning my hopes on them throwing a wad of cash at Mythic saying fix it, even if SWTOR does incredibly well (which, I’m sorry to say, it won’t).
I used to believe that WAR going f2p would be the death of it, but now I see the revenue model switch as the only way of keeping the game alive in the face of the oncoming MMO slaughterfest that is inevitably drawing closer, and being able to contend for its place among the viable PvP options. As for what that means for the game, I’m not sure.
If Mythic are able to pull off a working f2p model that won’t ruin the game by introducing paying for power, then WAR could become the best PvP free to play option out there. If not however, the game would still have its place among the f2p options, but rather as a decent WoW clone where money can buy you fun, instead of one of the best competitive MMOs out there. I guess either way works and by changing the subscription model there really is no way for WAR to do worse than it is currently doing. The only question is what will come out at the end of the transformation. Will it be a beautiful butterfly or a dull moth?