Inevitability. Right now when you look at the MMO market, it is only a matter of time before a game will turn to the free-to-play model. While it is understandable for publishers and developers to try to get as much as they can from early adopters to recoup the massive cost of developing an epic MMO title, almost every title soon falls to the free-to-play model or it simply vanishes. Even with the juggernaut of being a part of the Star Wars franchise, it was only a matter of time before Star Wars: The Old Republic went this direction too.
Players who opt for the free-to-play method of Star Wars: The Old Republic will receive story content for all eight character classes and be able to get their character up to the current max of 50. They will be restricted from playing new content and only receive a limited amount of time in the game’s PvP warzones. Players can access this content by paying a monthly $14.99 fee or using a new in-game currency being created known as Cartel Coins. With this updated payment method, Bioware looks to roll out this new content every six weeks, creating more incentive for players to subscribe or purchase Cartel Coins.
Past and current players will receive Cartel Coins automatically as a thank you gesture for their paid support of the game before it goes Free-to-Play. They will receive 150 Cartel Coins for every paid month subscription before July 31st, 2012. Additionally, any players who purchased the Special Edition of the game will receive 1000 Cartel Coins. Full details on the free-to-play transition can be found on Star Wars: The Old Republic’s website.
In an interview with IGN.com, BioWare GM Matt Bromberg gave his rational about the change in business model:
“There has been some decline in our subscriber numbers, but I wouldn’t say that’s what’s driving the decision…what’s happened in the marketplace is that free-to-play has really become the market standard for MMOs and we felt like there were both potentially millions of new players who were Star Wars fans who never tasted the game because the subscription was a barrier. Our research also told us that a lot of the folks who we had earlier on who left the game would like to come back and try some of the new features and content that we’ve put into the game since they’ve left if the subscription wasn’t a barrier. So we feel like the market and our players are telling us that greater access is what they want and so we’re really responding to that.
During August, Star Wars: The Old Republic will have a $14.99 sale which will include the full game as well as a paid first month of the new model.
Keep tuned to The Flickcast for more on Star Wars: The Old Republic.