Star Wars: The Old Republic has been suffering from declining player numbers since it launched last December. Many thought that the license alone would of been enough to keep the MMO relevant, but it appears that it just wasn’t enough. EA has just announced today through a press release that The Old Republic will go free-to-play starting in November of this year.
In addition to the change from a subscription to a free-play-model, the price of the game will also go down to $15 beginning on August 7, and will also include a free month of play. The writing really was on the wall here, with numerous reports over the past few months of staff reductions and firings, along with the shrinking player base.
According to BioWare Austin General Manager Matthew Bromberg, “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.” In response, BioWare has outlined the following new structure that will take effect this fall.
Subscription – A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.
Free-To-Play – The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins.
Current and previous subscribers will be given certain rewards for showing their support. They will receieve 150 Cartel Coins for every month they paid, an additonal 1,000 Cartel Coins, and special “Heroes’ Banner” for those who bought the Collector’s Edition of the game. Those who start playing right away and sign up between August 1 and November will also get their hands on extra rewards. Players can also expect more content as BioWare promises to roll out more frequent updates beginning next month.