Star Wars: The Old Republic Going Free-to-Play
Star Wars: The Old Republic will add a free-to-play option this Fall. Those who opt to play for free will have access to all the story content for all eight classes, and will be able to level a character all the way up to the current cap of 50. Some content will be restricted, though, and will only be attainable through paying a monthly subscription fee of $14.99 or using an upcoming in-game currency called "Cartel Coins" to make purchases (subscribers also get monthly allotments of Cartel Coins).
Paid content is said to include new high level content, new features and unlimited access. While free players will be able to access all the story content, they'll have to pay to access new content, as well as get additional bank slots and get unlimited plays in PvP warzones. Players who only play for free will be able to jump in warzones weekly, but only a few times before they're locked out of the content and asked to pay. Subscribers will have unlimited access to warzones.
EA cites "choice" as the reason for the switch, and BioWare GM Matt Bromberg said in an interview with IGN that the free-to-play decision is less about subscriber losses as much as it is the market:
"There has been some decline in our subscriber numbers, but I wouldn't say that's what's driving the decision...what's happened in the marketplace is that free-to-play has really become the market standard for MMOs and we felt like there were both potentially millions of new players who were Star Wars fans who never tasted the game because the subscription was a barrier. Our research also told us that a lot of the folks who we had earlier on who left the game would like to come back and try some of the new features and content that we've put into the game since they've left if the subscription wasn't a barrier. So we feel like the market and our players are telling us that greater access is what they want and so we're really responding to that.
Additionally, EA and BioWare say that the new free-to-play option will enable them to increase the frequency of content updates. The first of the new updates will come this August, alongside a temporary sale of The Old Republic for $14.99, which nets users both the game and a one-month subscription. The goal after that is to release content every six weeks, focusing on group content. Staff reductions have now occurred twice for developer BioWare Austin, once in May and again in the last couple of weeks, but Bromberg says the team they currently have will be able to handle the increased production. "We really have built a team around this newer and different model..so we think have the right team to do it and at the right numbers."
If you're a previous subscriber and decide to come back, you'll get benefits. Cartel Coins will be used to reward returning players, which you can read more about at the game's official website.
After BioWare was recently cited as "looking at free-to-play" this announcement doesn't exactly come as a shock, but is it enough to bring in the money the MMO needs to survive? Will you be playing it now? Let us know in the comments below.
Very interesting. I played this game as paid, played it until level 50, got almost all of a Champion PvP set with I think 2 pieces of gear from the next tier of items, and then quit out of pure boredom.
I might try it again if it goes free.