EA and Bioware have announced MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will be making the switch to the free to play model later this year.
Some notable restrictions apply to what players get free access to in the game.
Characters are capped at level 50, and those unwilling to pay either individual purchases or a subscription will be left out of new content, ‘advanced player features,' and unlimited access to the game in general.
The game's price will be reduced to $15 in August ahead of the switch, and will offer a free month as an incentive to buy-in at that point.
Since launch, we've been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace,” explained SWTOR's executive producer Jeff Hickman. We believe we are in a position to help improve the service even more, not only by continuing to add new content, but also by expanding the game to many more Star Wars fans, increasing the populations on worlds and the vibrancy of the community.”
Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe,” added general manager of BioWare Austin Matthew Bromberg.
The game's sales were described as ‘disappointing' by CEO John Riccitiello, during EA's Q1 FY13 call to investors earlier today. The company added that 40 per cent of players ‘didn't like' paying for a subscription, and that many would return if the game went free to play.
At present, the game has sunk below 1m subscribers.