So yesterday SWTOR 1.5 came out. This introduced some fun new stuff like Nightmare Explosive Conflict, some more action bars for subscribers, and… the cartel market. I think that going free-to-play was a great idea for BioWare/EA because let’s face it–the game has seen better days in terms of subscribers/revenue. The free-to-play option basically lets anyone play the single-player aspect of SWTOR including probably the most expensive-to-produce part of the game: class stories. Fans of KOTOR and its stories who didn’t want to pay a subscription fee for an MMO are probably rejoicing, while those of us who spacebar through every cutscene are considering the options of the new “weekly operation passes” in the Cartel Market.
The Cartel Market is available to everyone and people can buy specified amounts of Cartel Coins on the SWTOR website to purchase all new Cartel Market items/unlocks in game. Free-to-play users can purchase also Cartel Coins to achieve “preferred” status, which gives them a few more privileges than pure f2p players, but not as many as subscribers.
The Cartel Market can be accessed anywhere/anytime in-game via a new icon next to the top panel of the UI. The Cartel Market is divided into sections for the type of item: Packs, Cosmetic, Unlocks, Equipment, and Consumables. Cosmetic has a couple fun items like pets and speeders and also a Carbonite Chamber you can use to carbonize your character and heal yourself out of battle. The Carbonite Chamber is pretty awesome, but expensive at 720 Cartel Coins, but if you have some left from being a subscriber I’d say go for it. Unlocks range from speeder training to species unlocks, so, mostly legacy stuff that many people already have, but now players can pick and choose which stuff they actually want to spend money on rather than credits if they want to.
Equipment has a bunch of new Cartel Market gear which is mostly for aesthetics, but does carry some pretty decent stats for leveling. The coolest thing about this gear is that a lot of it is not class-specific, but has the looks of certain classes, so you can dress your character up like any class you want to basically. I personally picked up the Outrider’s Flight Jacket for my Powertech, and I am loving the fact that I’ll never have to play my Gunslinger again in order to get that Smuggler look :). Consumables are basically XP boosts that you can buy which will be very handy in leveling new toons, especially if you are a free-to-play user that cannot gain any rested XP ):.
I specifically saved the packs section for last because I have some sad confessions to make about this. The packs section contains two types of Cartel Packs, the Crime Lord’s Cartel Pack and the Black Market Cartel Pack. The Crime Lord’s Cartel Pack and the Black Market Cartel Pack contain 5 and 3 random items, respectfully. Each comes with either one or two Cartel Market exclusive rare items (which cannot be purchased directly from the market), a boost item from the market, and a rare companion gift. The Crime Lord’s Pack has a higher chance of “super rare” items and also includes random crafting mats.
So um… now for my sad story.
Being a subscriber since early access, I had a decent amount of Cartel Coins saved up when Free-To-Play went live. I promptly decided that the best way to spend said coins was on a multitude of Crime Lord’s packs which would give me the opportunity to POSSIBLY get a rare item. I opened a bunch of them and got some pretty cool stuff: a pink-purple crystal, the new sexy outfit, some pets, some speeders…all pretty neat. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of these SUPER RARE AWESOME OMGWTFBBW items and I was a little sad about this. Rather than just cutting my losses and waiting to get the next round of Cartel Coins for subscribing, or just not caring, I decided to take matters into my own hands and BUY MORE. I got the 5500 Cartel Coins for $40 on the SWTOR website and I knew that this was my chance to get the items I had been dreaming of. I quickly spent all 5500 coins on more Cartel Packs just to find myself getting the same (still pretty cool) items over and over again. I was quickly becoming depressed, how could I have just spent all of that money and gotten nothing brag-worthy in return? There was only one solution.
Buy more Cartel Coins, of course!
I spent another $40, and promptly opened EVEN MORE Cartel Packs to unveil…
- 1x Red-Backed Gizka (I wanted this, score!)
- 7x Other random pets I can’t remember
- 3x Ball Toss (woot you can throw balls at random people’s heads)
- 5x Covert Torso Energy Armor
- 5x Pink-Purple Indestructable Crystal
- 5x Ubrikki Crimson Claw speeder
- 4x Elegant Loungewear Top
- 2x Elegant Loungewear Bottom
- 6x Elegant Loungewear Cap
- 3x Republic/Empire Banners
- 4x Glowing Eyes-Gold
- 5x Random emotes
- 1x Cool Lightsaber (I have no single lightsaber using characters)
- ?x Random XP boosts
- ?x Stupid crafting mats
- 0x Titles
- 0x Mask of Nihilus
- 0x Throne
- 239482390480234x sadface
- 80x dollars I don’t have anymore
In the end, I’d say it was totally worth it. I got one pet that I wanted for $80 and a shit ton of Elegant Loungewear Caps for my friends and female companions.
To add insult to injury, my friend whose only character is a level 25 sniper he can’t play on his terrible laptop opened 2 Crime Lord’s Packs and got the Mask of Nihilus. /wrist
And, in all honesty, I think my favorite Cartel Market Item I got was the Outrider’s Flight Jacket I CHOSE and paid for -_-.
In conclusion, I think that Bioware’s Free-To-Play/micro-transactions model is definitely working.
Step 1: Free-to-play comes out
Step 2: I spend more than I ever have on SWTOR.