BioWare’s Keith Kanneg announced the end for the Refer a Friend program in SWTOR. By the end of April (27th) this program will be terminated and some of its benefits and rewards will be moved or added to other parts of the game going forward!
Keith Kanneg, the SWTOR Game Director, posted a lengthy message on the official forums to announce the end of the popular Refer a Friend program in Star Wars the Old Republic.
What is the Refer a Friend Program
This programs allows players to share a unique URL with their friends, followers or random people. When someone clicked on this URL, they would be considered referred to SWTOR by the referrer (the person, whose link they clicked).
“The program is meant to incentivize sharing your link with friends, encouraging them to join you in our galaxy far, far away, and granting meaningful rewards to both of you. This helps you (and the community) by increasing the number of players to play with, and it also introduces people who’ve never played SWTOR to one of the biggest Star Wars experiences in an online game.” – said Keith.
The link granted the player a limited seven-day subscription-like experience in SWTOR. For seven days many of the limitations and locks would be lifted and F2P and Prefered players would be able to enjoy the content SWTOR has to offer on a level that is close to “Subscriber” or as EA likes to call it now “Premium player”. Close, but not quite.
The Refer a Friend program doesn’t actually give you access to content that is gated behind a subscription. That was the biggest drawback many didn’t expect to face after the initial sign up.
The Refer a Friend program will end on April 27th, Keith stated in his announcement:
“On April 27th we will begin sunsetting our current Refer-a-Friend (RAF) program. Starting on that day, you will no longer be able to refer new players into the program via your RAF link–however any current referrals will remain in place.”
Why is BioWare ending the Refer a Friend program in SWTOR
The program’s main goal for BioWare and EA from business point of view was to attract new players to check out their product and eventually pay a Subscription for a month or more.
They used the player base to help them advertise this program by allowing them (us) to share our unique links. There are quite a lot of nice incentives for players to share their links and try to make their friends also try the game.
The program has been online for so many years, I had to check out the first referred players on my own link to remember when it launched – August 2013, or around that time.
The program never met the studio’s expectations, though: “RAF is not quite meeting that goal.” – Keith said. That was al he said.
I have my own thoughts to share, though. The majority of players who used it were not new, but rather old returning ones, who only wanted to play the game for a little while with fewer restrictions. And most of the new players, who joined through the program, probably did not last long or did not subscribe at all after that first week.
Over the years the program became a way for the (in-game) rich players to offer large amounts of credits or other goodies to people, who use their links. This could be BioWare’s biggest reason to end the program.
This problem continued to grow thanks especially to the ongoing and never-ending destruction the Cartel Market causes to the in-game economy with a large influx of expensive new shinies coming from the Store directly available for credits on the GTN.
What happens to the benefits and rewards this program grants
The Refer a Friend program offers benefits to both sides – the preferring person and the referred player.
“[…] one of the benefits RAF gave brand-new players was free access to Character Titles and the “Unify Color” feature on armor sets.”
What’s happening to these with the ending of the program later this month?
Both of these will become available for free to all players with Game Update 6.3. These unlocks are already disabled from purchase in-game already. It would be unfair for BioWare to continue selling them in the Cartel Market since they made this announcement. Fair and good decision!
The Refer a Friend program offered other things. Valuable things. Examples are the very nice mount that helps new and low level players get a free boost in transportation.
The Kurtob Alliance Speeder was the first thing referring players earned for sharing their links. This thing was absolutely amazing back in the day – sturdy, fast and cool-looking mount that will not break and explode after two rifle shots coming from the ever-so-ambushing-you Tusken Raiders.
The little droid pets that you earned for referring more players through your unique link, were nice, but nothing special. They were actually all the same model droid in different color schemes and unique names.
Will something else replace this program
No. There are no plans for the moment for something else to come take the empty space this program is about to leave in the SWTOR community.
“We want to really take the time to assess what the old system did right, did wrong, and what will make the most sense to achieve the goals of a RAF program in today’s game” – Keith explained.
You still have some time to use a link. Make your friend or favorite content creator happy by clicking on their own link before April 27th 2021.
What is special about April 27th
This is a Tuesday. Tuesdays are popular days in the MMO developing world (and gaming dev world in general) for releasing patches. We have SWTOR 6.3 coming up and this date fits perfectly.
There is no official announcement from BioWare yet on the release date for 6.3. It is highly likely, though, that they are targeting April 27th for several other reasons. The studio usually takes about two weeks after a PTC cycle to release the previously tested product – in this case SWTOR 6.3 PTS closed down earlier this week – on Monday with the following statement :
PTS is now closed. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the Secrets of the Enclave Flashpoint and the new Galactic Seasons system. They will be available when 6.3 launches at a later date.
— The Old Republic (@SWTOR) April 12, 2021
Where something ends, another begins! SWTOR 6.3 brings the new Galactic Seasons system, which will allow you to earn Cartel Coins for free and, in a way, will replace to some extend the Cartel Coins you may have been earning through the Refer a Friend program.
Another big big feature in 6.3 will be the brand new Flashpoint on Dantooine, featuring Darth Malgus! The story continues!