And not just on raiding night but much earlier, when they try to gear up with flashpoints and commendations. In a typical WoW raiding situation, gearing up with the Justice point system in heroic dungeons is part of the end game, even if that character never sees the inside of a raid instance. That means that characters are prepared for raiding through the normal mechanisms of the solo game. When a raid team has an open slot one evening, fellow guild members are able to fill in.
With the SWTOR system, free players won’t be ready to raid, gear-wise, unless they specifically pay for it. They won’t be able to just hit a button at the game store and unlock raids for the week, because they won’t have the gear to put on. The system will severely limit the overall pool of potential raiders.
Not to mention the increasingly discouraging attitudes of their fellow endgame players.
Then we have to look down the road a ways and look at long-term implications. If a declining number of players are able to complete operations, what will be the response when EA focuses an entire 6 week cycle on releasing a new one. The community will largely yawn when a new bleeding edge operation gets released that only 5% of that community will see as current content.
That gives EA two options:
The first option is to continue to push Operations as a primary source of content. They will do this largely in an effort to prop up their model. If they really want to promote subscriptions, they will have to push subscription-only content as an incentive.
The second option is to develop few and fewer operations because they aren’t being played. EA will find that repeatedly releasing content that their players don’t care about will lead to disillusioned players who gradually stop playing.