While fans young and old have been at one another's throats in the never ending debate of which sci-fi title is truly better than the other, arguments are only finding further reinforcement when comparing the two MMO's these titles have offered the gaming community. Both can boast large populations at varying peak playtimes, rotating events, and a steady stream of content; but it would seem determining which is the better game can truly come down to the players' interests and play-styles.
Upon release of either title currently offered, Star Trek™ Online (STO) or Star Wars™ the Old Republic (SWTOR), initial player-bases indicated very positive futures for either title; however whether due to the economy changes of the time or fail points from either title both started as subscription-based but have now shifted to completely free-to-play (F2P/FTP) models.
Though very similar in their means of a money-market for the purchase of in-game items, abilities, and unlocks; both have taken very different approaches in their handling of as much. Any new player in either game can definitely advance through the game itself without spending a cent, but it won't take long for a SWTOR player to face a hiccup in their progress that only a purchase will relieve. Lockouts in SWTOR such as interface components for game-play like their ability 'hotbars' or even simple cosmetic changes such as hiding a character's helmet or matching their armor colors definitely encourage purchase from their player-base much earlier than can be found when playing STO as a new F2P player. While SWTOR may justify such with their game being completely free while originally requiring a purchase, the same can be said of STO as well. Both games require funds to be maintained justifying the need for some measure of such, but it cannot be denied that SWTOR's approach can come off as a much greedier money-grab due to such lockouts without a subscription or potential cash purchase. The real catch twenty-two of SWTOR is that nearly all of the unlocks you can purchase using real cash, can potentially be purchased from other players for the credits earned when playing; so long as someone is selling them after a purchase from the money-market. STO offers this same means for some of their purchases, but there are many more purchases bound to the account once bought.
Most MMO gamers will agree however, it is not the purchase or need for funds by the developers that truly gauges which makes for a better game to invest both time and money into. While hiccups of purchases may create enough of a stumble to steer away many players, and fans of the genres may typically find it very difficult to resist the temptations offered by either money-market; the reality of maintaining players' interests comes down to the game-play and community more than the financial demands beset by them. When taking an in-depth view of either game, it doesn't take long to determine which game has likely been around longer. STO offers a wide range of varying quests, a huge galaxy to explore, and multiple layers of side games and even means of advancing your characters while not even logged in. Whereas SWTOR does course across a galaxy, the simple truth is it is not much more than a Star Wars™ themed World of Warcraft™ with some minor advancements of progress to the gaming mechanics. See the list for more details.