With little less than just eight months on the clock, EA has today confirmed that their Bioware developed Star Wars MMORPG; The Old Republic, will be embracing the increasingly hip and popular free-to-play business model.
The transition will occur this fall and existing subs will be elevated to ‘premium’ status.
There’s more on this after the jump.
As it currently stands, F2P users will be able to progress right up to level 50 – along with unfettered access to each of the game’s eight character classes. There will however, be certain restrictions on what they can or cannot do which can be alleviated through the use of in-game currency, termed ‘Cartel Coins’.
Subscribing users, or ‘premium players’ as they will be known, will be given a mixture of freebies including a Jawa pet and monthly grants of the aforementioned cartel coins; allowing them to purchase additional gear and convenience features unique to the currency.
In any event, the whole free-to-play thing has happened to SW:TOR a hell of a lot faster than I thought it would.
Rather handily, EA/Bioware have created a nice little chart which ably illustrates the differences between the subscriber and free-to-play models. You can see the differences between the models here and the amount of rewards that existing subscribers can scoop up here.
Matthew Bromberg, General Manager of Bioware Austin had this to day regarding the shift – “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,”
His comments were subsequently echoed by Jeff Hickman, executive producer on Star Wars: The Old Republic who went on to say:
“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.”
That pretty much leaves The Secret World, another property published by EA, as the sole subscriber reliant MMORPG out there that isn’t called World of Warcraft.
What do you guys think about the shift?