Star Wars: The Old Republic Gives Up, Goes Free-To-Play This Fall

    July 31, 2012
    Zach Walton
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It was so cute to watch BioWare and EA try to stave off suggestions that Star Wars: The Old Republic would be going free to play for so long. They didn’t want to admit that they had made a World of Warcraft clone and had to go free-to-play like all the other WoW clones. Now the truth is finally setting in and EA has embraced their destiny.

Its destiny is that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be going free-to-play, with some restrictions, starting this fall. EA can’t fully admit that TOR was a bust so they’re going to keep saying that this is just an expansion of their current business plan. Take this comment from Jeff Hickman, executive producer on TOR, for example:

“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.”

In other words, BioWare didn’t anticipate that the game would bleed over 400,000 users within the first six months. To get those players back and attract new players, they’re going to have to move to a free-to-play model. This isn’t good news for anyone besides the players who never played the game in the first place because of the subscription.

Anyway, if you haven’t yet experience TOR, you can start playing for free starting this fall. Like other failed subscription MMOs, there will be a few limitations placed on the free players though. Free-to-play users will only be able to play up to level 50 and have their access to new content and advanced player features restricted. To get any new features, free-to-play users will have to purchase Cartel Coins, a new in-game currency being introduced in the fall.

If you feel that you must pay for a continued subscription, you will get access to all the game content that’s been available since day one. You will also get monthly grants of Cartel Coins which can be used to buy in-game content.

To set up the move to free-to-play, TOR will go on sale for $14.99 starting in August. Those who buy this edition will also get one a month’s subscription for free. Current players, no doubt a little upset that they spent $60 for the game, will receive additional benefits.

To be honest, you would have to be naive to not see this coming. It’s hard for a game to compete in the MMO market and WoW clones never succeed for one very simple reason. WoW players are going to keep playing WoW. They don’t care about the Star Wars universe enough to leave their precious game that they’ve put years of their life into.

Here’s hoping BioWare will be able to keep some money flowing into the project to avoid further layoffs. It would be sad to see the game shut down after only a few years when its predecessor, Star Wars Galaxies, lasted for almost a decade.

  • Jim

    TOR came out in December 2011, while Galaxies in June 2003 and lasted til Dec 2011. Even after the NGE, Galaxies still made it through. I do miss that game despite the crap soe introduced and ignored. TOR isn’t really a worth while game to play imo. Unless you love WOW and want to see a SW style of it

    • jj

      every mature player in TOR wanted a SW:galaxies II MMO
      and was crying for the lack of gameplay / community

      if i want a instanced dungeon ill load a instanced dungeon
      not pay 15 bucks a month to run the same shit over and over.
      (without reasons to do so, besides that u payed suscription)
      they brought this on themselves.

  • http://cosanostrarepublic.enjin.com Subutai

    Frankly, I LOVED tor. Their dedication to the star wars univers was amazing and the stories and gameplay coalesced with the universe amazingly. I loved reading the tor books and playing the game, and is (and will be) the only mmo to interest me. Ah well, very few star wars lovers these days.

  • Howard

    Zach, are you clueless? It’s VERY obvious for most players that BIO/EA has been planning this for quite some time. Look at content releases and dates all leading to 1 event…F2P. They knew it Pre-launch and just played dumb to get the most bang for the buck. You expect the reader to believe that Bio/EA have no clue what the market is?…really?? they know! and they also know that even a game as trend setting as WoW will fade. Not Everyone likes childish graphics, mods that make game play easy mode, and gold spam pouring from every oriface in the freaking game. Lets face it Zak, If WoW dies so will your narrow point of view, and your job…hopefully

    • Joe

      Its not that they did not know as much as they did not care or so it seems. I would have fired the development team personal for the amount of money they lost.

  • Joe

    They added content an did not listen to players nor fix any of the bugs that existed from launch an at that time it was obvious from a 2 year old that the game was going free to play. The better question would have been to ask the designers an developer team how much they were smoking to think it had even a chance to not lose money.