SWTOR: If You Don't Subscribe, You'll Have Six Major F2P Penalties
Star Wars The Old Republic went free to play in November of 2012 and the debate whether to go F2P or not began. A person who first starts the game without a monthly subscription is considered F2P and if they make at least a $4.99 purchase off of the cartel market or previous subscribers become preferred. "Preferred" status has better benefits than free to play, but is still limited.
Free to play is great for those who want to try the game, and they can even level all the way to 55 (or 60 with expansion) but at a cost. There are many features that are different between Subscribing and preferred/F2P but these Six are the most prominent.
1. Experience Gain
One of the biggest disadvantages of being Free to Play is the Experience Gain Rate after level 10. All preferred and F2P players receive a -25% penalty to the experience they receive. This is counteracted by using the consumable experience boosts you get from quest rewards, the Galactic Trade Network (GTN), and the Cartel Market, but you would need to buy them. They last 1 hour or 3 hours depending on the boost you get.
Preferred Players and F2P get double the experience on the double experience weekends, but they can not take part in the rare 12x experience events when those come around.
2. Credit Cap
Subscribers can hold as many credits as they want. Preferred Players have a cap of 350,000 credits and F2P have a 200,000 credit cap. You still earn credits above the cap, but it goes into an escrow account.
You can pay with cartel coins to pull more out and go above the cap temporarily. For example, if you have 200k and have 600k in escrow you can pay to pull it out. It would give you 800k, but anything you earn goes into escrow until the balance is below 200k.
3. Flashpoints, Warzones, and Operations
As a subscriber, you can enter Flashpoints, Warzones, and Operations as many times as you want.
Preferred and F2P
- Flashpoints - This is one of the main areas you get updated equipment from as you level. You can only receive full rewards from 3 flashpoints per week. You can buy a weekly pass from the cartel to remove this restriction.
- Warzones - This is PVP and draws a lot of people. You can only enter 5 per week but can buy a pass to remove this restriction. Regardless you cannot enter Ranked PVP at all. Rank PVP is where the success of the team effects the rewards.
- Operations - This is part of the Endgame Content and where you get the top tiered gear. You must buy a weekly unlock to enter an operation.
All artifact level gear (purple outlined armor and mods) that you get in rewards require an unlock that can be purchased to removed this restriction.
Whenever you die in-game, you can either return to Medcenter (which can be far from the spot you're in) or revive right where you are, which requires Medical Probes. Subscribers get an unlimited amount of probes but preferred and F2P players get 5 per week. Any more than that and you will need to buy more off of the cartel market.
It can be difficult when you are deep in an area and walking all the way back would take forever, but if you run out of your weekly medical probes you will need to do exactly that. You may need to fight all the spawned enemies to get back to where you were.
Subscribers can mail all the credits they want or up to 8 items to another player or one of their other characters (including opposite faction characters on their own server).
As a preferred player, you can send and receive in-game mail with one attachment but cannot send credits. F2P players can only receive in-game mail but cannot send it.
6. Inventory Space, Cargo Hold, and Guild Bank
Subscribers automatically get access to their inventory and can buy more space using credits or cartel coins.
Preferred and F2P have access but can only buy more space with cartel coins.
These may not seem like they are that bad, but when you are playing and want to do a certain thing these can put up a roadblock for you. Sending mail alone is quite irritating as a preferred or F2P player. Not having access to your cargo hold and having to keep EVERYTHING in your inventory makes it hard to level sometimes.
In the end, it's up to each person whether they can get past these limits and the other restrictions. Some can stomach only being F2P, and that is all right, but others choose to be F2P, and those are the people you'll hear complain about all the restrictions in-game.