Well, that didn't take long. Just eight months after the release of BioWare's MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Electronic Arts has announced it will be adding a new Free-to-Play option this fall.
The new free option will give players access to each of that eight Star Wars character class storylines up to level 50 which is about when the game stopped being fun anyway. There will be certain restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some of those restrictions can be "unlocked" with Cartel Coins.
Alternatively, players can opt-in for unlimited game access, including new higher-level game content and new features, through individual purchases or through a subscription option.
"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," said BioWare Austin GM Matthew Bromberg.
Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic added, "Since launch, we've been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace. 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."
As a first step towards adding the new Free-to-Play option this fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic will go on sale in August for $14.99, including one-month free subscription, which particularly pisses me off since I originally purchased the game for $60.
BioWare is not letting that go unnoticed however. According to the press release, BioWare will be "increasing the frequency of game content updates, with the first of many new releases coming in August".
In addition, current subscribers will receive Cartel Coin grants and qualify for access to special in-game items. Former players who re-activate now will qualify for special benefits. You can learn more about this transition from the dedicated Star Wars: The Old Republic free-to-play page.
Since its launch and subsequent layoffs shortly after, Star Wars: The Old Republic has long been speculated to go free-to-play. It looks like now is finally the time. Is it a smart move for EA? It can't be any worse…