As most predicted the very moment the MMO was unveiled, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be going free-to-play up to level 50 this November. Electronic Arts, publisher for the once highly anticipated MMO, announced the news today saying that the “subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people.”
With The Old Republic‘s new subscription model, new players will able to experience the eight unique storylines up to level 50, and can access certain new content and advanced features, but not all of them. For those players who want to access those aforementioned advanced features, BioWare will be instituting a new currency called Cartel Coins, which allows players to purchase further access into the game.
These Cartel Coins will also be provided as a pseudo allowance to those who continue to subscribe to The Old Republic as a way to unlock in-game items, gear, and convenience features. It’s not all bad if you want to continue subscribing to the MMO, but this is a big move to bring new players in.
Up until The Old Republic goes free-to-play in November, BioWare has promised that the frequency of updates will increase in order to make for a better and more appealing MMO. The first of those updates will be taking place in August, along with a dispensation of the first Cartel Coins and special access to in-game items.
EA is making a ton of moves, including discounting the game to $14.95, in order to lure players back before the big change, but all of that will be pointless once the game becomes ostensibly free. If you were a dutiful Old Republic subscriber, you might want to get back in now, though, as EA has promised a ton of goodies to anyone who returns.
It was not too long ago that BioWare took the first steps in converting The Old Republic into a free-to-play MMO, and now this news is certainly going to change the landscape of the MMO for the foreseeable future. Even World of Warcraft, the benchmark for subscription-based MMOs, has, to a certain extent, gone free-to-play.
While EA wouldn’t say what spurred this particular change on, our guess is that dwindling subscriber numbers had something to do with it. Currently Star Wars supports less than 1 Million subscribers, but at least tracks upwards of 500,000.
Proclamations that The Old Republic was the last of the premium MMOs, that it would usher in an age where freemium experiences dominated the market, have now been proven true. But at least we now get to experience a pretty engaging set of storylines, albeit surrounded by a somewhat dated gameplay experience.
Are you surprised to hear that The Old Republic is going free-to-play through level 50? Will this drastic move be enough to bring you back to your ship?