- Subscribers - people who predictably pay money
- Preferred Status - people who have paid money in the past, and therefore might do so again in the future
- Free To Play - people who have never paid money and/or gold seller/scammer/suspicious accounts
The last tier is heavily restricted, but a lot of the most annoying restrictions are lifted as soon as a bit of money is spent.
Now, you all know my position on F2P. I think the amount of money Bioware will get from the second tier will be negligible. Most gamers are just talk and don't put their money where their mouths are. The real money will come from people they convert to subscribers, and the extra money that dedicated subscribers will spend.
That being said, this doesn't seem that bad. Once you get to Preferred Status, the restrictions are not crippling, and are minor annoyances. There's a lot of cosmetic gear that looks kind of interesting.
Most hilariously, there's a chestpiece for male characters which is transparent. I guess that matches the female bikini armor. Equality for the win?
One other thought: I don't think a lot of people complaining about restrictions on the forums really understand how much a gold seller or hacker could do with free accounts. Just imagine what someone could do with a thousand accounts all slaved together. Even simple things like the /who command could bring a server to its knees if invoked simultaneously by everyone.
Or the credit boxes from Slicing. That profession is credit-positive, so you could just set up all the accounts to continuously run slicing missions and generate tons of credits, and feed it to a main character. Massive inflation, anyone? So Bioware has locked away the credit box missions behind a paywall, and F2P players can only use the Slicing missions which generate augment parts. Lots of people are upset about that restriction, but to my mind, it's a very necessary one.
Ah well, this will be an interesting experiment. Personally, I really enjoy The Old Republic, and recommend it to all my readers. I think it is a very good themepark MMO, especially if you like story and group PvE. Imperial Agent is the best story line, possibly the best RPG storyline I've played in the last couple years. Most of the others are quite good too, with many people voting for the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior story lines.