02 Aug 2012

Star Wars the Old Republic, developed by Electronic Arts and Bioware has announced via their blog that the game would have a free to play option sometime this fall.

Star Wars the Old Republic had a very successful launch but after several months of play there has been a steady decline in player population.  Developers have added new content regularly including new flashpoints, new operations and gear as well as the new Force Legacy System.  Despite all this the decline continued.

The free to play option is being made because developers are more interested in fostering the community and felt the biggest obstacle in retaining players has been the pay per month feature.

Once the option is online, players can continue as subscribers with unlimited access to all features and game updates or they can play the game for free to level 50 along with some restrictions.  In June the company began offering a free to play option up to level 15

To entice people to subscribe or maintain their subscription there will be new content coming in the coming months.  One content expansion is the operation called Terror from Beyond a new mission series on Belsavis with a set of level 50 space missions and a new companion and new war zone titled Ancient Hypergate for PvP players.

Bioware will introduce a new reward system that uses cartel points which players will use to purchase items, character boosts, collectibles, unique gear and more.  As of now, current subscribers earn cartel points for the number of months they have been playing the game since launch and months subscribed between now and the transition to free to play.

This change is really par for the course as far as MMO games are concerned.  Several other games have already gone to this free to play model.  This model is a growing trend.

After this news announcement EA shares went up 1.5% to $11.19 in after-hours trading.  Shares had been off in the past months.  This indicates that despite a Star Wars decline, analysts aren't in despair over EA's performance.

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