The Coin Shop or Mind Tricks Don’t-a Work On Me, Only Money!
I am rather late to the party with this, but I have been playing my pureblood Marauder alt a little to get reacquainted with the environment and mechanics of the game. Haven’t been doing too much of my usual ‘why, yes, I can beat this ludicrous challenge if I keep the footwork flawless and Vette twirls her lekku at the right moment!’ headbutting of walls, either. As a result of the leisurely pace, there was plenty of time to notice and mentally dwell on the footprints of the cash shop. In summary: deep and tramply.
When SW:TOR F2P was introduced, I wrote that I am prepared to make peace with the shop unless it encroaches upon in-game achievement, by which I meant too much pay-to-win and short-circuiting of systems like valor and legacy which represent long-term player goals. At the time, I had been a little too idealistic to even anticipate the pay-to-breathe element or the impact on the economy. The strategy appears to be to target primarily people levelling through the stories and to inconvenience them enough that they give in and buy the necessities of everyday life. A dangerous game to play.
However, there is one property of the system which restrains me from pouring unalloyed scorn. All of the items one can obtain through the coin shop unbind after a certain period of time and become resellable, providing a very direct conversion from real currency to in-game currency. I had not anticipated that, either, and I am not entirely sure what to think about it yet.
On the one hand, every time I passed through the fleet, the only trade advertisements were for unbound shop items. The sums I have seen tossed about were on the order of several million credits per fashion item, which is far removed from the income of ordinary gameplay (especially given F2P inventory/storage/crafting limitations) and if it goes on like that, we’re going to need Stones of Jordan. On the other hand, certain utility unlocks and authorisations (like Quickbars and bank access) can be found on the GTN for entirely reasonable prices. I am guessing that some appear as undesirable chaff in ‘booster pack’ type packages which people are encouraged to buy for a chance at rare cosmetic items, and some are put on the market by gambling-averse fashion hounds (probably also subscribers) who prefer to convert coins to credits and buy their desirables directly.
Thus, an enterprising F2Per can make life reasonably (and permanently) comfortable for themselves using solely in-game currency, and a subscriber can help out a buddy with their spare coins. Even as a subscriber myself, I bought the new Section X content authorisation for credits, just because the price was very accessible to my main. Piecemeal PLEX in SW:TOR? Sure, why not. Shame that marketing is so quiet about this flexibility.
On a positive note, and whenever I manage to distract myself away from these meta-concerns, the game is as entertaining as always. I really ought to be sorting out Sullas and getting some warzones going on, but I have fallen victim to the TOR occupational hazard of getting hooked on a storyline. The Warrior’s second companion was a minor surprise to me, and I can get used to a little crisp competence around the place. On my Knight, I had to wait for that until Rusk came along.