Its no secret that EA and BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic has had some trouble keeping their subscribers. With 1.7 million subscribers at launch in December 2011, they soon saw a decline start with only 1.3 million in February. This decline has continued and subscribers have dipped below 1 million, but still sit substantially above 500,000.
With this news of the recent drop, EA has announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic will now be going free-to-play. The new model will play alongside the old subscriber model, opening up the story driven MMO to new comers all the way to level 50.
The players who are still subscribed will receive special items. They will also receive 150 Cartel Coins for each month they have been subscribed prior to July 31 and 250 coins for each moth after the launch of the free-to-play option. Cartel Coins have been introduced as a new in-game currency with which you can purchase customizable items and items that will enhance the gameplay experience from the Cartel Market. As well as the Cartel Coins and special items, subscribers will get priority in log-in queues and full access to everything they had before.
Players who opt in to the free-to-play option will only have limited access to most features of the game. They will be limited to a certain number of Flashpoints, Warzones and Space Missions that can be completed each week and there will be no access at all to Operations. Character customization will be limited with some features, such as species selection, only offered to subscribing players. The ability to purchase Cartel Coins will be available. They can be used to purchase items from the Cartel Market as well as to unlock some of the restrictions placed upon free-to-play players.
There will also be a restriction on things like inventory slots, the amount of credits you can hold, bank tabs, and extra characters for those using the free-to-play option. Those choosing to downgrade from subscribers will have to choose what they want to keep within the restrictions of their downgraded account.
Plans for more content to be released more frequently have been made starting with an update launching this August. The free-to-play option will launch in the Fall. The transition will begin in August when the retail version of Star Wars: The Old republic will be reduced to only $14.99.