In an interview with TenTonHammer, James Ohlen has now indicated that cross-faction communication had changed. Is this good or bad? We will let you judge for yourself with a direct quote from the article. Ohlen replied to a question about sending items to cross-faction alts via mailboxes.
Currently no, you have to do it the old fashioned way through the mailbox, but only if they're the same faction. There are multiple reasons why we don't want the different factions to communicate with each other.To be fair, the question only concerned mailboxes. Ohlen later clarified in the interview: "You won't see the other faction's chat at all, so they can't chat with you and you can't chat with them." We know for certain there will be a large group of SWTOR fans upset about this design choice because it will inhibit their style of gameplay. We will look for further clarification on this subject, so stay tuned to Massively for more information.
We had the big argument that this isn't like Horde and Alliance, we all speak Galactic Standard so we should just allow it. So we actually did allow it for a little while. The argument against it was that, what happens is people start saying inappropriate things to the other side. That's just the way it is when you're on a different side and you gank each other, people tend to say inappropriate things.
[Update: Georg Zoeller has clarified the issue in a post on the official forums. We've included his response behind the break.]
Let's back up for a minute and clarify what's going on here.
Nothing has changed since San Diego Comic Con.
As discussed at SDCC, the decision was made to separate the general chat channels by faction. However, this decision ONLY affects the planet-wide chat channels such as "General Chat." If you're standing next to another player (local chat), you can talk to them regardless of what faction you're part of.
The only thing we removed, as already mentioned at Comic-Con, was the ability to communicate with the opposing faction across the entirety of a planet to avoid the issues (like griefing, abuse, and other factors which led to a very unpleasant experience) which we saw way too often in testing.
We discussed the option of hiding the global chat and defaulting it off, but ultimately the ratio of negative incidents was too high to justify that. The reasoning here is simple: We really didn't want to create a game option that essentially says "[x] Give me an 80% chance of having an infuriating and annoying chat experience," and putting the onus on the user ("you can just /ignore them") is not our idea of a quality game experience.
Removing planet-wide cross-faction chat radically reduces the amount of reach a misbehaving player has before account action can be taken. We'll likely add the ability to filter local cross faction chat as well.
Hopefully that clears it up a bit. . - Georg Zoeller