A new way to play the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic was announced by Bioware earlier today. In addition to continuing to offer a Subscription option, Biowar is allowing players to take any character class up to the current level cap of 50 “with some restrictions” in a Free to Play mode. A new currency – Cartel Coins – can be purchased in-game to bypass some of the F2P gaps, which are currently known to include access to new content and advanced player features. Players with a subscription prior to the F2P launch will be able to earn a monthly allowance of Cartel Coins, although there is no word yet on how long the allowance will continue after said launch.
“BioWare announced today that it will be expanding the story-driven, massively multiplayer online game Star Wars: The Old Republic by adding a new Free-to-Play option this fall.” read Bioware’s statement in part, “This option will give players access to each of the eight iconic Star Wars character class storylines, all the way up to level 50, with certain restrictions*. Unlimited game access, including new higher-level game content and new features, will be made available through individual purchases or through a subscription option.”
While still a high ranking title in MMO Subscriptions, The Old Republic has seen a notable drop off in players since launch, recently dipping below 1 million total subscribers. Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello called the game’s sales “disappointing” during a recent call to investors. The publisher also noted during the call that an estimated 40% of players weren’t interested in continuing a subscription, but many claimed they would return if the MMO adopted a free to play structure.
“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,” explained Matthew Bromberg, General Manager of BioWare Austin.
“Since launch, we’ve been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace.” added Old Republic 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.”