EA announced today that their MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will be introducing a free-to-play option this November. Players will be able to play any character class free until level 50, with a few restrictions on content and features exclusive to subscribers. Although there is still an option to pay the $14.99 subscription fee to get unlimited access, the game will be introducing Cartel Coins, a virtual currency used to buy in-game items and features.
This switch to the free-to-play should not surprise anyone who has been following SWTOR, as the game has been hampered by dwindling subscriber numbers and layoffs in its development team since its release in December 2011. Bioware has been considering the free-to-play business model to increase their player base since June. This change might keep SWTOR’s subscription numbers above 1 million again, and keep the development team financially afloat.
Bioware claims that they will continue releasing regular content updates before and after SWTOR switches to free-to-play. Seeing that it’s one of the most expensive and ambitious games ever made, it’s not shocking to see the company really wants to keep this game alive. With more accessibility available to new players, as well as more freedom in how much players spend, it seems the free-to-play model is the correct path to take considering the problems the game was having.