Despite all the TORtanic jokes, the move to a hybrid free-to-play model was the right move for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The game keeps all of its loyal subscribers and is able to attract new players at the same time, but what about the players that left? BioWare might be able to bring them back with the game's first expansion due out next Spring.
BioWare announced today that The Old Republic's first expansion is to be called "Rise of the Hutt Cartel." The expansion brings all the requisite level cap increases, new characters, new planets and other additions that you would expect to find in new content like this.
Getting into specifics, the level cap has been raised by five to 55. With the level increase, BioWare promises more abilities, skill points, gear and other bonuses as you grind to the new cap. The expansion is also adding the new planet of Makeb where the "Galatic Republic and Sith Empire fight for control over a powerful secret." Finally, the addition of the Hutt Cartel will add more of the fully-voiced story content that TOR was best known for.
The expansion will launch in Spring 2013 for $19.99. Subscribers will be able to get the expansion for half-off at $9.99. Those who pre-order by January 7 will get five days of early access when the expansion launches. Non-subscribers will also become a Preferred Status player if they pre-order the expansion.
It will be interesting to see if this expansion helps BioWare gain more players and subscribers after the game sank earlier this year. If it doesn't, the game could be in trouble. Disney, the new owners of LucasFilm, has already made it known that it doesn't intend to pursue core games in the Star Wars universe. TOR launched before the acquisition, but Disney now holds the fate of the latest Star Wars MMO in its hands.