Star Wars: The Old Republic Manages to Piss Off Players By Handing Out Free Game Time

After all the trouble Star Wars: The Old Republic has seen since its launch late last year, BioWare today decided to reward its "most valued players" that stuck with the game a free month of game time. How could that possibly go wrong? It's all about the definition of "most valued players".

BioWare apparently defines them as "every active account with a Level 50 character as of April 12th, 2012 at 12:00PM CDT / 5:00PM GMT". Accounts that fall within those criteria receive a free month of game time. It's a positively lovely gesture, but not everyone that's maintained an active subscription since the game launched has a level 50 character.

It's not that getting to level 50 is particularly difficult. Some players are alt-aholics, creating new characters every few days. Others are more social players, spending their time online chatting and fooling about instead of leveling. Others still don't have as much time to play, grabbing a quick hour here or there. Those players will still benefit from the Legacy Tauntaun Ram being given out to players with a registered account in good standing, but they won't get the free game time.

One would assume "most valued" would apply to any player that's stuck with the game over the past five months. Star Wars: The Old Republic has had a rather tumultuous relationship with its players so far. The first major update broke high-end player-versus-player combat. The latest update went live without Ranked Warzones, further irritating the fanbase.

And now this.

The game forums are once again awash in conflict over this "gift". Players with level 50 characters are pleased with the present, as one might expect. More casual players, not so much. From the forums:

Good to know only level 50's matter. A free month would have kept me playing in the hope you would actually improve pvp. I'm not willing to pay you every month on the small chance you will eventually fix the broken pvp in this game.

I'm upset that I'm not going to be able to receive my free month. I've been a subscriber since early access, but because of school and work, don't have the time to play all that often. I have a level 43 and 47 on different servers, and it kinda angers me that I wouldn't be able to get my free playtime even though I've been here since day one.

Some players are trying to explain the decision away as being meant to appeal only to the hardcore PVP crowd, upset over the exclusive of the eagerly-awaited Ranked Warzones. Whatever the reason, this seems like a real boneheaded move on BioWare's part. Perhaps they should have started with a smaller game and learned the ropes instead of consistently screwing up one of the biggest MMO releases of the past decade.

Update: I had "most loyal" in the article previously. Updated to reflect the correct wording, "most valued".

Celebrate Game Update 1.2: Legacy [Star Wars: The Old Republic - Thanks, Brian!]