Hyperspace Beacon: If you’re not playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, why are you still subbed?

Let me start this article by answering my own headline: It’s partly because I’m an idiot and cannot let go of this IP.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a part of my life for over six years, and not having it there to fall back on would be difficult. But I could still play SWTOR without a subscription. Many of my friends still do! The truth of the matter is that I’m still having fun in the game, just not playing the game. I still have a guild of about 50 people who log in regularly to participate in activities. I have friends whom I’ve grown close to. And as much as I hate to say it, there is no other game that can give me my Star Wars fix.

I guess it’s possible that I could still log into the game and not pay a dime for it, but hopefully, if I tell you what happens during my typical game day, you will understand why I still hold a subscription for the game, despite not playing a single bit of the content BioWare has given and sold me.

A day in the life of a roleplayer

I do a segment on the Passionately Casual podcast called In-Character, during which I talk about roleplaying in SWTOR. Although I wouldn’t call them deep dives, my segments are more than the surface trips that most roleplayers take into discussing our gameplay style. This past week, I talked about my guild, using it as an example of how roleplay groups come together. The roleplay in my guild is an important reason for me to still have a subscription to the game.

Although I have officially handed the key to the guild over to someone else, I am very much still in leadership. I am one of three people who have a hand in every aspect of what’s happening. In the morning, including the morning that I’m writing this, I make sure to say hello to everyone in our Discord server. Because I’m writing, I don’t exactly have anything else to do, but sometimes, I will have guild website issues to take care of or content that I need to write for the guild wiki or maybe I have an upcoming event that needs planning. But every weekday, I do some little thing for the guild.

Of course, after that, I have a job and other work to do. We all have to eat, kids need to get to school, and video games don’t pay for themselves. Luckily, my day job allows me to periodically check in on how things are going with people playing the game or catch up on the latest memes the guild is talking about. But very little of it is about the game content itself. Most of the time, it’s memes, but when guildies do talk about the game, it’s rarely about the things BioWare is producing. Most of the time, we talk about our D6 campaigns or the storylines for our characters.

Planning D6

I have mentioned this in passing before, but my guild roleplays using a set of tabletop rules that started in the mid-80s. West End Games created the first RPG for Star Wars in the early ’80s, which was eventually used by Timothy Zahn as a reference for his groundbreaking Heir to the Empire novels.

I do have a weekly event that I am in charge of, but as one of the leaders, I am also in charge of maintaining character balance. Let me give an example: We recently had players who were interested in taking on martial arts disciplines. And Star Wars as a franchise has them, and the D6 system actually allows for hand-to-hand combat styles. But unfortunately, they all seemed overpowered compared to even Force abilities. So last week, one of the other leaders and I crunched numbers and tested out possibilities on how to implement martial arts into our existing system without making it an instant I-win button. We also didn’t want it underpowered, either. Luckily, there was an existing outline for us to use, but it wasn’t quite right for our group; we had to adjust it a lot.

Maintaining relevance

I’m not trying to brag when I say that I have a lot of stuff in game. Although I’m not the richest on the server by far, I’m not uncomfortable, and if there is something that I really want, I can usually get it. My guild is very similar. We have a fully unlocked flagship where most of our roleplay adventures take place. It took over a year to unlock the ship because the other leaders and I didn’t want to dump all of our money into it; we wanted to guild to have a part in making it what it was. That being said, we did spend hundreds of millions of credits buy decorations for it, and we continue to supply the ship with new things from the Cartel Packs.

Since I do not buy Cartel Packs with my Cartel Coins anymore, I buy items off the Galactic Trade Network (auction house), which means I need to have a constant credit supply to pull from. This also means that I cannot play the game as a preferred player because my credits would be capped.

I guess the bottom line is that to remain relevant to the game and to my guild, I have to be able to do the things that they need and to provide them the opportunity to have a great venue for them to roleplay in. The $15-a-month charge really isn’t that much in the end. I spend more on coffee in a month. I’m willing to give that up if it means that I can give my guildies a place to for their stories to take place.

I know that some people believe that guilds are inherently selfish, and that guild leaders make guilds to stroke their own egos. But that’s not what I’m looking for and that’s not why I subscribe. I’m not completely selfless; I am enjoying myself. But I’m willing to make a minor monetary sacrifice if it helps the people around me enjoy themselves, too.

In other words, I’m still enjoying myself and my friends in SWTOR — but it’s not really because of anything BioWare’s done. And that’s why I’m still subbed.

Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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23 Comments on "Hyperspace Beacon: If you’re not playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, why are you still subbed?"

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Cypher

Guilty as charged!

For MANY years I played on and off but my sub was unbroken for years, I even used to justify this by simply collecting the 500cc stipend… but then i was paying £8.99 for 500cc when it only cost £3 for like 400cc outright, and I can only ignore maths for so long…
Eventually, I just realised that I was being taken for a mug (fool) by a faceless corporation, just because their particular brand of poo came with a lightsaber… rabid fanboy I am not!

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jay

Already unsubbed, I’ll resub if they ever release new meaningful story content.

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rafael12104

I’m not letting go if it. But I am unsubbed. Just keeping and eye on things and I will be back for the new OP. Not one boss though, the whole thing.

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mysecretid

I expect I’ll go back and play for the duration of the next story-content drop, if it looks interesting to me at all — which means I’ll re-up my sub for the duration — but like you, I no longer pay for a subscription during the “off-content” periods, because (for me) there’s nothing worth doing there which warrants the expense.

I don’t even play the game during the drought periods these days.

With a publisher like EA, where profit is the only valued metric, all I can do is “vote with my money”, and refuse to pay for the game when it’s not worth my while.

Do I expect EA to give any fucks? Nah. But it’s not really about them, it’s about me, deciding what I’ll pay for, and what I won’t.

Cheers, pal,

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Danny Smith

Shit man the “because its Star Wars!” was like 8 out of every 10 rabid defences of the train wreck of 1.0, brand loyalty can take people a long way, but only so far if you aren’t having fun.

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Pedge Jameson

You said it right there man.

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Bryan Turner

What makes you think I’m subbed if I’m not playing SWOTR?

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Space Captain Zor

I’m guilty of this in the past (not subbed currently) and I knew there had to be countless others. That’s why I get irritated when paid DLC/expansions show up for these games. What, all this subscription money isn’t enough to, you know, provide subscription benefits such as new features and content? Is the subscription something less than an “all in” benefit, when that’s precisely what it should be?

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Hirku

I’m doing things backwards and playing regularly without a sub because–and I still can’t believe this sometimes–not paying Bioware actually gives me a better experience. It helps that I only care about the class stories and have already unlocked everything I need to enjoy them, but the biggest value I’m getting for my non-money is a normal leveling experience. Thanks Bioware, best money I never spent!

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NeoWolf

This is partly why I play multiple games so as to prevent stagnation, thereby making a sub redundant. By playing multiple games if one gets a little dull, I take a break and play one of the others.

Typically I have a trinity, one sci fi, one fantasy, one other and rotate between the three.

I don’t really have an issue ending a sub though, but I do like to support the games I enjoy so even if im on a break I still tend to leave the sub going. It is only if I do not play for an extended period that I make the step of cutting the sub strings.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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Bryan Turner

I just had a revelation, if Luke is Carl then Rick Grimes has been Darth Vader hiding in plain sight.

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Armsbend

I find it a relief not logging into a game out of some sense of morbid responsibility. Cancelling a sub is like a spring cleaning of sorts.

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Alex Willis

Glad to know others are in the same boat as me. With LOTRO and ESO on my plate these days, I don’t have much time to play other MMOs. And yet here I am, still subbed continuously to SWTOR, after years and years.

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rafael12104

I stayed sub for quite awhile. I love the game and could justify it skimpy because I know I will be back. But alas, finally I unsubed because of time constraints and Cxp.

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Melissa McDonald

I downgraded back to F2P.

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Kickstarter Donor

We canceled our subs (again) last month, after unfortunately giving Bioware/EA money for several months where we didn’t play at all.

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Jeff

There are a lot of folks who are subbed just so they can complain on the forums, I had one of the SWTOR forum vets confess that to me last week, and that a good majority of the constant complainers did as well.

Honestly it’s the most idiotic reason to stay subbed to a game, you are basically telling the company I hate you, but bend me over again.

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Greaterdivinity

It’s partly because I’m an idiot and cannot let go of this IP.

YOU SAID IT! I’ve had a feeling this is the case for a while, you’ve definitely come off as trying to force your optimism for the game during some of the really rough spots. Can’t blame you in the slightest though (especially since you’re usually quick to acknowledge the issues and not pretend everything is fine), I know the feeling of loving an IP so much that you’re willing to pay for stupid things : P

I guess the bottom line is that to remain relevant to the game and to my guild, I have to be able to do the things that they need and to provide them the opportunity to have a great venue for them to roleplay in.

Honestly, this is one of the worst bits of their F2P monetization. The fact that folks like you are forced into a subscription simply for RP-related events etc.

But at the same time it’s great that you have a core group of friends with your RP guild that make the $15 a month well worth the price. They’re the ones (yourself included, given your role!) who are putting in the hard work and effort to make the game worth playing and spending money on, not BioWare. It’s kinda shitty on the part of BioWare, but if they can at least continue to allow for you and your guild to have great RP adventures in a Star Wars MMO for the price of a subscription, that’s not a bad deal at the end of the day.

I’m still hoping for the day BioWare will actually earn the subscription from folks like yourself, and bring folks like me back into the game to play and even subscribe again.

I’d love to feel the sense of optimism that I felt in the months leading up to KotFE. I was pleased as punch to sub for a few months leading up to the launch of the expansion to dive into the game and support BioWare financially, because it finally felt like they were taking the game in a good direction and that there was a sense of optimism for the coming year.

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Witches

If you are not wrapped up in that hamster wheel called endgame, then you still have a vast universe to enjoy and to use as a setting for your fun, sadly the latest content is a bit self contained and hasn’t added much to what we already had, that said at the end of the day the people that accuse the game of being more CM than MMO are more in the right with every cash shop cosmetic that is introduced while lasting gaming content isn’t.

The constant sales going on right now look a lot like a liquidation, the haters will say it’s the end of the game yet again, while the fanbois will say everything is fine and this housefire comes in handy because it was a bit cold.

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Nordavind

I prefer to cut the cord with one swift strike, lingering is not healthy IMO. I can always come back later.

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A Dad Supreme

This isn’t that rare though. It’s a lot more common than one would think.
I’ve known many people over the years (myself included) that held onto subscriptions for MMOs even though all we ever did was log-in once in awhile to bunnyhop around the main town, city or base for about 10 minutes deciding on what to do before logging back out.
Heck, I remember just logging into games and doing nothing but chatting while staying inside my own housing (EQII) just moving items around with no real aim or care as to where I was moving them.
I saw this with people in ESO, WoW, FFXIV… you name it.

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Targeter

I did the same w/ SWTOR and LOTRO for a few months after I decided to stop playing. Strangely enough, whenever I decided to step away from WoW, I immediately removed my card info. Dunno why. It’s the only MMO I treat like that.

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