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Star Wars: The Old Republic to go free-to-play

Star Wars: The Old Republic to go free-to-play

Star Wars: The Old Republic is to move to a free-to-play model as BioWare and EA attempt to stem subscriber losses.

Electronics Arts and BioWare have jointly announced a free-to-play model for Star Wars: The Old Republic, as the Jedi-filled massively multi-player online (MMO) game sees subscriptions falling below the million mark.

A move to a free-to-play model seems to be the standard tactic for MMOs that aren't quite performing as well as hoped: even World of Warcraft, the three-hundred-pound gorilla in the MMO market, has a model where gamers can get their fix free initially before being asked for cash to progress.

The model for Star Wars: The Old Republic follows the same pattern: gamers will have access to characters up to level 50 for free, after which they will have to take out a subscription to advance. New content will also be made available to subscribers first, with free players left out of the fun - while unspecified advanced features will also be restricted to paying gamers.

'Since launch, our team has spent a lot of time trying to find new ways to be able to bring the Star Wars: The Old Republic experience to as many potential players as possible,' claimed the title's executive producer Jeff Hickman in a statement regarding the move to free-to-play. 'We quickly became aware that our subscription only model was a major barrier for a lot people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe. In fact, many players who have left the game said they would happily come back if they could play without the commitment of a monthly fee.'

To convince players to keep their subscriptions and not simply drop to the free level, the companies have also launched a rewards programme under which subscribers - including those whose subscriptions have lapsed - will receive 150 Cartel Coins for every month paid prior to today, with an additional 200 Cartel Coins per month if they continue to subscribe through to the launch of the free-to-play option later this year. A one-time bonus of 1,000 Cartel Coins, redeemable for 'convenience items,' boosts, visually unique equipment, collectibles, and other virtual purchases, will also be given to Collector's Edition owners.

'Our team is extremely excited about this new plan,' added Hickman. 'We are working hard and having a lot of fun preparing new content and items for the game. We believe that this is the right direction for our game – more choices, more options and more ways to customise your play experience to suit your play-style. We want to be able to keep our fans excited, engaged and having fun every time you login. We look forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions and feedback.'

The news comes on the back of a raft of planned content expansions, including a new operation dubbed Terror From Beyond, a new heroic mission set on the planet of Belsavis, additional space combat missions for level 50 characters, a new companion character and the Ancient Hypergate player-versus-player warzone.

24 Comments

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Harlequin 1st August 2012, 12:21 Quote
this really is reminding me of Earth and Beyond - really enjoyed it till they killed the serveres due to dwindling numbers :(
azrael- 1st August 2012, 12:25 Quote
The funniest part is seeing them trying to spin this in a positive way...

'Our team is extremely excited about this new plan,' added Hickman. 'We are working hard and having a lot of fun preparing new content and items for the game.'

Suuure... ;)
Harlequin 1st August 2012, 12:35 Quote
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/134940/the_making_of_star_wars_the_old_.php?print=1
Quote:
Current projections, he says, show enough success that BioWare is investing in the future and keeping the entire team of hundreds of people together.

"Unlike a lot of other game companies that, once they launch a game, downsize their teams radically, our plan is to keep the team together and continue to focus on building content."

Indeed, Ohlen says his experience has been that, once a game is finished, he always moved on to the next game right away, sometimes even before the game was done. But SWTOR will be different, he insists.

"There's no secret project currently being done in the Austin studio," reveals Ohlen. "We're very much focused on Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars for the foreseeable future"


followed by

http://uk.gamespot.com/news/bioware-lays-off-part-of-star-wars-the-old-republic-team-6378106
Quote:
The Star Wars: The Old Republic team is smaller today, as Electronic Arts studio BioWare has confirmed a round of layoffs to the team behind the sci-fi massively multiplayer online role-playing game. BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka called the move a "restructuring" in a public statement.

and now its gone F2P
monkiboi 1st August 2012, 12:37 Quote
It's surprising (to me at least) just how difficult it is to maintain a community around a game nowdays after the initial buzz has worn off.
rollo 1st August 2012, 12:43 Quote
Not a big shock game lacked content at end game and struggles because of it
kosch 1st August 2012, 13:09 Quote
Cant wait to get back into this. I really enjoyed the story lines but didnt want to pay a monthly sub for what I felt was KOTOR3 with a chat interface.
Kastagir 1st August 2012, 13:41 Quote
The game was released unfinished. The basic functionality needed to build community was missing or inadequate. LFG, Guild UI for example. Without the resources to build a strong community it was doomed to fail. Which is a shame really, cos I really liked it.
Woodspoon 1st August 2012, 13:47 Quote
Unless they've raised it level cap is at 50, which is kind of impossible to advance beyond, lol.
"gamers will have access to characters up to level 50 for free, after which they will have to take out a subscription to advance"
Tris 1st August 2012, 13:56 Quote
I played this quite heavily and ended up quitting due to lack of end game content. The funny thing is that it wasn't particularly lacking (when compared to other MMO's, even WoW), it's just that they made it too easy to get the top level gear.

They had a "heroic mode" like system where some of the dungeons you completed while levelling were boosted up to max level and allowed you to get level 50 set gear. Only problem was you could do the end game operations without gearing up first and get far better gear, so everyone skipped straight to those and cut out potentially weeks of grinding.

Not interested in returning for a F2P version to be honest, MMO's realistically get one shot to be huge and that's passed by for this game, as it did for Warhammer and AOC before.
Silent_Raider 1st August 2012, 14:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
this really is reminding me of Earth and Beyond - really enjoyed it till they killed the serveres due to dwindling numbers :(


Except Earth and Beyond was a much better game! I still miss it.
vdbswong 1st August 2012, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodspoon
Unless they've raised it level cap is at 50, which is kind of impossible to advance beyond, lol.
"gamers will have access to characters up to level 50 for free, after which they will have to take out a subscription to advance"

There is a planned Level Cap increase with the next set of content (at least, when the new Operation and Planet are released).

With regards to a lack of endgame, i think that's improved immensely. I could see how early on the single Operation would have been tiring to repeat, however now with 3 Operations, 1 of which being immensely challenging, i think there's enough to satisfy most people (our Guild has been around since launch and whilst we've lost quite a few players, one of our Ops teams has only just started tackling Hard Mode Denova).

Obviously "Hardcore" MMOers will never be satisfied with the endgame because they rush to the end at a pace like no other, but for the majority i think the current endgame is sufficient, but slightly growing old.
yazooo 1st August 2012, 15:46 Quote
I quit because my play time didn't justify the sub although I was enjoying it. I will go back when it is F2P, it's nice to know I can play a couple of hours a month and not feel like I'm wasting a tenner!
proxess 1st August 2012, 16:00 Quote
Just make UO2 dammit, EA!
l3v1ck 1st August 2012, 16:18 Quote
I'd love to play it now it's free as I realy like the KOTOR games.
The problem is I just don't have the spare time needed to play MMO's.
ChaosDefinesOrder 1st August 2012, 18:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by yazooo
I quit because my play time didn't justify the sub although I was enjoying it. I will go back when it is F2P, it's nice to know I can play a couple of hours a month and not feel like I'm wasting a tenner!

this is pretty much my exact argument about subscription games. It's like going back to the bad old days of Pay as You Go mobile phones where the monthly call time vouchers expired if you didn't use all the minutes you had paid for.

Paying a fixed fee per month regardless of time can either be great if you have lots of spare time, but it sucks if you only get a couple of hours a week of free time.
Tyinsar 1st August 2012, 19:24 Quote
Guild Wars: Yes I paid for each campaign and the expansion (for two accounts). But in six years I never once paid a monthly fee. I'm pretty much done with it but if I feel the need I can hop back in any time - for no extra charge. Needless to say that I preordered Guild Wars 2. :)
Quote:
Originally Posted by yazooo
... it's nice to know I can play a couple of hours a month and not feel like I'm wasting a tenner!
This.
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
I'd love to play it now it's free as I realy like the KOTOR games.
The problem is I just don't have the spare time needed to play MMO's.
And This. :(
Fizzban 1st August 2012, 20:54 Quote
Think we could get a thread merge? We don't need two threads in articles saying the same thing.
Star*Dagger 1st August 2012, 21:28 Quote
"End game" is a term used for theme park mmos, which will inevitably fail to keep the interest of the ritalin popping Worst. Generation. Ever.

Try EVE, a real sandbox and learn to cooperate with 4000 other people in your Alliance to compete against another alliance of 4000 people cooperating to stop you.

Yours in Freedom is better than Rides Plasma,
Star*Dagger
ssj12 2nd August 2012, 03:02 Quote
Ill probably start using my account then
Virus44 3rd August 2012, 20:24 Quote
Always did say swtor was terrible maybe bioware finally got the message :D
Harlequin 3rd August 2012, 20:28 Quote
the game engine IMO was the biggest fail for it - when they had to do a major rewite for animation literally a few weeks before release , there are massive issue - in fact IIRC they removed hi res textures and never put them back?
t5kcannon 5th August 2012, 09:03 Quote
People will pay for quality, and SWtoR is not a quality game. That is the main problem. No customizable UI, no addons, no combat log and worst of all a bad end game. Just on that basis, it deserves to fail.

Mostly, players did not quit SWotR because of the monthly fee. They quit because it was a poor game.
PlayLoud 5th August 2012, 19:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
the game engine IMO was the biggest fail for it - when they had to do a major rewite for animation literally a few weeks before release , there are massive issue - in fact IIRC they removed hi res textures and never put them back?
High res textures are back in the game. I don't remember when they went back in (I stopped playing when ME3 was released, and only recently came back to SWTOR), but they are definitely back in.
PlayLoud 5th August 2012, 19:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by t5kcannon
People will pay for quality, and SWtoR is not a quality game. That is the main problem. No customizable UI, no addons, no combat log and worst of all a bad end game. Just on that basis, it deserves to fail.

Mostly, players did not quit SWotR because of the monthly fee. They quit because it was a poor game.
The UI is customizable now (has been for a while), and is much improved because of it. True, there are no addons, and no combat log. I have to disagree when you say it is a bad game (I love it), but that is subjective. When unsubbing, 40% of the people said that the subscription is why they left. That's a significant amount.
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