Many believe that it’s only a matter of time before Star Wars: The Old Republic goes free-to-play after shedding 400,000 subscribers since February 2012.
Developer BioWare Austin has admitted that it’s looking into free-to-play as an option for the game. “The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi told GamesTM. “Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations. So we are looking at free-to-play but I can’t tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on.”
These comments in no way confirm a move to free-to-play, but this is the first time that the developer has mentioned it as a viable option. The team would have to be incredibly ignorant not to at least look at this business model, considering the success it has had over the past couple of years. Several major titles have made the switch from a subscription model and found an increase in revenue, such as DC Universe Online and Lord of the Rings Online.
If BioWare did decide to make the switch it wouldn’t mean that the game has failed, it’s just a result of how the MMO market is changing.
I expect micro-transactions to creep their way into the game over the next year, to test the waters. If fans are willing to spend money on vanity items in a cash-shop then BioWare may decide to make the switch regardless of subscription numbers.
Would you be happy to see the game go free-to-play?