With the Star Wars: The Old Republic Free to Play model launching tomorrow, players have several decisions to make. Former subscribers are considering coming back to the game. Current subscribers are debating whether or not to cancel their subscription and continue playing as Preferred status. New players of all backgrounds and various levels of MMO experience will be coming to the game for the first time. Recently we took a look at how many Cartel Coins it would cost Preferred and F2P players to unlock the same features available to a subscriber. At that time, we did not know how much Cartel Coins will cost in real money. BioWare gave us some price points during last week’s Press Q&A session. Today we do some math and present some real money numbers with the various Cartel Market unlocks.
Cartel Coin Pricing
BioWare has revealed the cheapest and most expensive Cartel Coin packages and their costs. While there will be several additional price points in between, we can use these numbers to come up with a definite price range for each item. The more coins a player buys, the more value they get. The smallest package is $4.99 for 450 Cartel Coins. That comes to 90 Cartel Coins per dollar or 1.1 cent per Cartel Coin. The most expensive package is $39.99 for 5500 Cartel Coins. That comes to 137 Cartel Coins per dollar or 0.73 cents per Cartel Coin. We use these numbers for the price ranges you see below. The more expensive price is for those who buy the cheapest package. The cheaper price is for those who buy the most expensive package.
As discussed in our latest podcast, the idea of artificial currency that costs real money can sometimes blur the real cost of items. The tables below will help clarify what things really cost. A decent rule of thumb is to use a conversion rate of 100 Cartel Coins per dollar, which falls within the range of costs provided by BioWare. Using this ratio, simply put a decimal point two digits from the right on the Cartel Coin cost of an item to get its cost in dollars and cents. For example, the cost of the Artifact Gear Access Unlock for a single character is 1200 Cartel Coins. Using this conversion method, it comes out to roughly $12.00 which falls within the range of $8.76 to $13.20.
Players who do not subscribe to the game will have to purchase unlocks for most customization options. While customization is not crucial to being able to experience the story within the game and participate in all its content, it can be an important feature for some players. Various aspects of customization can be purchased separately and the prices seem fairy reasonable.
|Customization Unlocks||CC Per Character||$ Per Character||CC Account Wide||$ Account Wide|
|Crew Member Appearance Customization||325 CC||$2.37 - $3.56||725 CC||$5.29 - $7.98|
|Hide Head Slot Customization||350 CC||$2.56 - $3.85||775 CC||$5.66 - $8.53|
|Display Titles||100 CC||$0.73 - $1.10||200 CC||$1.46 - $2.20|
|Display Legacy Name||100 CC||$0.73 - $1.10||200 CC||$1.46 - $2.20|
|Total:||875 CC||$6.39 - $9.61||1900 CC||$13.87 - $20.91|
Crew Skills, GTN, and Storage
Non-subscribers will find themselves with limited access to Crew Skills, storage space, and Galactic Trade Network features. Unlocking additional access is possible through the Cartel Market. Legacy features such as ship unlocks are also now available for purchase via Cartel Coins.
|Crew Skill, GTN, Ship, and Storage Unlocks||CC Per Character||$ Per Character||CC Account Wide||$ Account Wide|
|Additional Crew Skill||420 CC||$3.07 - $4.62||945 CC||$6.90 - $10.40|
|10 GTN Sale Slots||125 CC||$0.91 - $1.38||280 CC||$2.04 - $3.08|
|Cargo Hold Access||475 CC||$3.47 - $5.23||1050 CC||$7.67 - $11.55|
|Additional Cargo Bay||475 CC||$3.47 - $5.23||1050 CC||$7.67 - $11.55|
|10 Additional Inventory Slots||175 CC||$1.28 - $1.93||390 CC||$2.85 - $4.29|
|Legacy Unlock: Ship Mailbox||N/A||N/A||350 CC||$2.56 - $3.85|
|Legacy Unlock: Ship Droid Vendor||N/A||N/A||250 CC||$1.83 - $2.75|
|Legacy Unlock: Ship GTN Kiosk||N/A||N/A||900 CC||$6.57 - $9.90|
|Guild Bank Access (Assuming your guild has one.)||600 CC||$4.38 - $6.60||1350 CC||$9.86 - $14.85|
|Total:||2270 CC||$16.57 - $24.97||6565 CC||$47.92 - $72.22|
Items and Unlocks
Many new items are being introduced with the implementation of the Cartel Market and these are expected to be among the most popular purchases. New items include armor sets, color crystals, pets, mounts, and the Cartel Packs which have a random chance of containing rare items. Legacy unlocks can also be unlocked via Cartel Coins instead of credits (although credits remain an option). Players who want to purchase unlocks must weigh the different costs between the two currency types and decide which makes sense for them. (Note the table below includes physical items, which are limited to a single item per purchase, and Legacy unlocks, which are unlocks available to all characters on a given Legacy.)
|Items and Unlocks||CC Cost||$ Cost|
|Weekly Content Pass||240 CC||$1.75 - $2.64|
|Carbonite Chamber||720 CC||$5.26 - $7.92|
|Crime Lord's Cartel Pack||360 CC||$2.63 - $3.96|
|Black Market Cartel Pack||180 CC||$1.31 - $1.98|
|Armor Set||1200 CC||$8.76 - $13.20|
|Chest Piece (Level 15)||150 CC||$1.10 - $1.65|
|Chest Piece (Level 43)||325 CC||$2.37 - $3.58|
|Gamorrean Axe||350 CC||$2.56 - $3.85|
|Advanced Color Crystals||900 CC||$6.57 - $9.90|
|Legacy Unlock: Species Character Creation Access||600 CC||$4.38 - $6.60|
|Legacy Unlock: Improved Speeder Piloting I||475 CC||$3.47 - $5.23|
|Legacy Unlock: Improved Speeder Piloting II||225 CC||$1.64 - $2.48|
|Legacy Unlock: Improved Speeder Piloting III||225 CC||$1.64 - $2.48|
|Legacy Unlock: Rocket Boost||300 CC||$2.19 - $3.30|
|Legacy Unlock: Improved Rocket Boost I||120 CC||$0.88 - $1.32|
|Legacy Unlock: Improved Rocket Boost II||120 CC||$0.88 - $1.32|
For players who would like to continue doing Operations as a non-subscriber, the math actually works out better than expected. The biggest obstacle are the game play unlocks that would allow raiders to effectively raid, specifically access to two additional quickbars (for the current total of four) and access to wear artifact/purple quality gear. The table below shows the exact costs.
|Functional and Gameplay Unlocks||CC Per Character||$ Per Character||CC Account Wide||$ Account Wide|
|Additional Quickbars||250 CC||$1.83 - $2.75||540 CC||$3.94 - $5.94|
|Access to Artifact Equipment||1200 CC||$8.76 - $13.20||2700 CC||$19.71 - $29.70|
|Access to Event Equipment||175 CC||$1.28 - $1.93||400 CC||$2.92 - $4.40|
|Total:||1875 CC||$13.69 - $20.63||4180 CC||$30.51 - $45.98|
The important thing to remember here is that the quickbar and gear access purchases are a one time unlock. So while the prices on those are intimidating, they’re less than the cost of several months worth of subscription fees. Once those one time unlocks are out of the way, the ongoing cost would be for the weekly Operation access passes. At the high end, the cost seems prohibitive. However, if someone buys the 5500 Cartel Coin package, it could make sense in the long run. If that player is only interested in playing a single character for Operations, the cost becomes even lower.
Let's take a look at a very specific example. It is possible that a player's only interest in SWTOR is doing Operations on a single character. They have no interest in alts, no interest in replaying the story content, no interest in PvP, and no interest in Flashpoints. They want to do Operations and that's all. They decide that they don't want to continue paying the monthly subscription fee, but they do feel like they want to play SWTOR for the forseeable future. So they cancel their account, which puts them as a Preferred status player, and decide to buy the largest Cartel Coins package at $39.99 for 5500 Coins. (It's worth noting that as a former subscriber who only cancelled after F2P went live, they will also receive the bonus complimentary Cartel Coins. Since that amount will vary from player to player, we won't include those in the following calculations.) But now they have some restrictions they'll have to unlock. The most important ones will be getting back to four quickbars (restricted down to two for Preferred status players) and unlocking access to wear artifact gear. The quickbars cost 500 CC ($3.66). The access to the Artifact gear costs 1200 CC ($8.76). That's a one time cost of approximately $12.50 - less than the cost of one month's subscription fee. Subtract 1700 CC from their initial total of 5500 CC and they're left with 3800 CC. If they spend those coins on nothing but the Weekly Operation Pass (240 CC each), they can buy 15 weeks worth of passes. That's almost 4 months. And once those 4 months are over, if they buy another pack of 5500 Cartel Coins for $39.99, this time around they don't have to worry about buying the quickbar and equipment unlocks. Spending all 5500 CC on Operation unlocks gives them 22 weeks (or 5 and a half months) worth of access. That comes out to less than $8 per month.
For players who play and enjoy several different aspects of SWTOR, remaining a subscriber is still the more cost effective choice. However for players who are interested in very specific features or cannot play every week in a given month, the F2P model could come out to be cheaper for them without losing access to the features they care most about. The charts above will allow for players to get an idea of what is available to unlock and for what cost. For players who are still trying to decide whether to maintain their subscription or not, hopefully this information helps them make an educated choice.