To Use The Force, or Protect The Ringbearer?

With the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic comes hard choices for a lot of us, looking at our limited MMO-playing time and deciding how we’re going to split it now that there’s another contender on the scene. Can you afford to spend the time to play SWTOR as well as your existing MMOs? Or will your current MMO – be that WoW, LoTRO, RIFT – have to fall by the wayside?

A Casual Stroll To Mordor addresses this problem from a particularly compelling angle today – Vraeden, a LoTRO player right now, but a dedicated fan of the Star Wars mythology, talks about the decisions he’s making, what he hopes to get from SWTOR, and what the new release will mean for a smaller MMO

“Are all of the LOTRO players going to try out SWTOR? Probably not. But how many subscribers can LOTRO lose and remain viable? Some will try it out and not like SWTOR. Maybe it’s the mechanics. Maybe it’s the community. Maybe they simply don’t like the fact that it’s very much like WoW.

I think many of the moves Turbine has made with LOTRO have been specifically designed to countering the release of SWTOR. I think the free-to-play/micro-transaction pricing model is specifically designed to get MMO players who don’t want to be locked into a regular subscription fee.9 The 12 months for $99 seemed like Turbine’s attempt to lock player into LOTRO for a year, so even if they left for SWTOR, they were still generating revenue. Even WoW went “free-to-play”, although it was really more like an extended trial period, and not truly F2P, and they have introduced their own set of micro-transactions, even if there isn’t the all-pervasive store that is found in LOTRO and DDO.

I haven’t talked to anyone at Turbine, and I don’t have any inside information, but I’ve got to believe that there is a plan to keep LOTRO subscribers and players once SWTOR comes out and they have an idea of how many of those players are coming back and how many might be gone for a substantial amount of time.”

I really enjoyed reading this article. From the discussion of the various scales of fictional universe (although oddly, I think Vraeden underestimates the pull of LoTRO) through the difficulty of deciding whether to, effectively, abandon a community you’ve grown to love, there’s a broad sweep here and a lot of interesting points to consider. I’d not really thought about how SWTOR would affect the smaller MMOs, but now it occurs to me that we’re looking at a pretty major quake throughout the MMO community – and whilst WoW will weather the storm, albeit diminished, I wonder how smaller games like LoTRO, RIFT, and maybe even rival space game EVE Online will actually cope.

Are you struggling with adding SWTOR to your gaming life? Are you worried about how its launch will affect other games?