EA has announced that BioWare's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will become free-to-play in all territories on November 15th.
The F2P system will allow players to experience all of the class storylines through to the current level cap – level 50.
Existing subscribers will be boosted with free Cartel Coins to reward them for their loyalty. Former subscribers who reactivate their accounts will also get some free coinage.
EA decided to abandon its subscription model for SWTOR after the game had spent eight months on the market. Subscriber numbers had been falling, so the publisher introduced a free-to-play aspect to the game in a bid to entice new users.
I don't know about whether it was inevitable but it seems that the market is definitely moving in that direction,” VP of BioWare Austin Matt Bromberg told MCV earlier this year.
There may be subscription products in the future, maybe more niche products but for a big, broad game like Star Wars, it's the right way to go.
We are really hopeful that it'll bring a new wave of interest and that was really our goal. Star Wars is a very big, broad picture and people love it and there are millions of followers and not all of them were familiar with MMOs as a category. A lot of them were turned off by the barrier that was subscriptions. We hope that lowering that barrier will encourage more casual players to try.”
Bromberg acknowledged that there has been an explosion of free-to-play MMOs on the iPad”. And that this is something that has caught BioWare's attention.
The world seems to be moving towards tablets and devices so the thing we'll have to figure out as game makers is how do you recreate the engagement that you can on a PC, on a tablet or a mobile?” he asked.
There's no question that the consumers are moving there and we have to follow them. A lot of people are working on it, including us.”