The Old Republic Goes Free-to-Play

TORtanic has finally sunk. It was inevitable, I blogged about the dropping activity on my server numerous and the fact that I have not renewed my subscription and officially quit the game around May this year. EA yesterday confirmed officially that Star Wars: The Old Republic will become free to play for all users up to level 50 and then there will be microtransactions and whatnot to make profit in form of the traditional F2P mechanics. Wow.

I predicted the game to go F2P around December this year after seeing how many subscribers opted out in March this year. At first I thought December 2013, as all servers were full and  activity was fantastic. I really enjoyed my time with the game and I do not regret it one bit. It provided tons of fun PvP matches, operations, flashpoints, ganks, and amazing storylines.

But despite this it had flaws, and people stopped playing. Subscribers are way below 1 million now (officially confirmed by EA) and keep dropping like there’s no tomorrow. The Old Republic never became the WoW killer it was intended to be. Not even close. The $300 million budget along with % going to Lucasarts is killing EA right now and something had to be done. They released great content with patches 1.3 and the coming 1.4. They really did everything they could from a logical point of view, but the players didn’t come back. So there was only one thing left to do: make the game free.

The game will drop from $59.99 to $14.99 in August with a month free subscription to entice new players. They will still keep the subscription model and paying customers will be “premium users” with everything unlocked from start. New players and free riders will have to either pay microtransactions or farm for cartel coins to be able to participate in operations and warzones and explore deeper content past level 50. It seems fair to me and the way to go given the situation the game is in.

This news angered a lot of current subscribers that are still loyal to this sinking ship and will most likely cause them to leave. Although I am certain that EA will report over 2-3 million active users once the game goes free in November. In fact, I will come back to see how the game has evolved at that time as returning customers get tons of free cartel coins and whatnot. I will however, not buy a subscription but return as a free-to-play customer. And I certainly don’t plan on buying cartel coins. I just want to see how the game has changed and whether or not it is alive again.

I don’t think anyone could have foreseen this game going free so soon. The reason is obviously the development costs and licensing fees. Otherwise the game is still “strong” in comparison to other MMO:s such as RIFT and Tera Online. But those games cost a fraction to maintain and develop compared to Star Wars.

Thoughts on this? Do you still play The Old Republic? Will you start playing it in November now that it is free? Or do you hate microtransactioning MMORPG:s with their “pay to win” attitudes?

I will always remember you, The Old Republic. Till we meet again.

 

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