Is Bioware’s “free month” giveaway a slap in the face for non-endgame players?

Patch 1.2, the biggest patch since Star Wars: The Old Republic’s launch, is upon us, and with it a number of free offers, one of which is sparking considerable anger amongst the player base.

Yes, in addition to all the in-game fixes, changes and improvements, they’ve also announced an extremely controversial giveaway – **1 months’s free play for people who have max-level characters*.

Only people who have max-level characters.

Quite understandably, the blogosphere is divided on this point, with a lot of people – particularly those who have been playing SWTOR consistently with lower-level characters – very upset at this development:

  • Pete at Dragonchasers believes that Bioware have badly screwed up their marketing angle“By calling the free month a loyalty reward they definitely opened themselves up to very valid criticisms that customers who’ve been there since day 1 and have a gang of sub-50 alts are no less loyal, and in fact may be more loyal, than customers who joined in March and charged right up to level 50 on their single character. “
  • Tobold believes that Bioware are reacting to a perceived risk, but doing so unwisely“A promotion in which people who unsubscribe get 7 days subscription free, people who didn’t unsubscribe but are at risk of doing so because they reached the level cap get 30 days subscription free, and everybody else gets absolutely nothing is rather stupid.”
  • Syp at Bio Break feels that Bioware were very, very close to being awesome“It’s hard to complain about a month of free gametime, especially if you’re on the “have” side of this equation, but as was quickly pointed out to me (if my common sense had failed me as BioWare’s obviously did) that plenty of Day One players don’t have a 50. “
  • Christopher at High Latency Life feels personally insulted that Bioware have, effectively, called him disloyal“I bought a collector’s edition, and I’ve been subscribing ever since day one. Just because I haven’t had the time to get to 50, I don’t get a free month of subscription time.”
  • Spinks, in her massive 1.2 roundup post, is actually reasonably enthusiastic about the giveaway – “Personally, free is a nice counterpoint to the money grabbing scams I’m more used to so I’m happy. “
  • Psynister writes a powerful, detailed piece explaining condemning Bioware’s apparent inability to understand many of its players“I don’t really take it as an insult despite all that I’ve just said and how I said it. I don’t think it’s them actively saying, “we don’t care about altoholics” so much as they just completely missed the point of alting.”

This really is an interesting situation, and an interesting misstep for Bioware. As several commenters have said, the idea’s so close to being good – it’s just hard to understand why they didn’t realise their way of framing it would cause offense.

What do you think? Harmless freebie or slap in the face?