Star Wars: The Old Republic may inevitably be heading into the free-to-play market, but EA doesn’t want to rush the process any more than they have to. After all, 1.3 million subscribers isn’t bad, right?
As BioWare lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi accurately puts it, the MMO market is seeing more and more F2P games of extremely high quality, and premium subscription rates aren’t as solid a money maker as they used to be. Nowadays, PC gamers can sell themselves with polished, engrossing experiences in titles like Vindictus, Dragon Nest, League of Legends, World of Tanks, and DC Universe Online—hence, the subscription-based model isn’t always the best route to go.
Although GamesTM pulled their interview with Lusinchi, Massively retained images of the preview piece in question. In very frank candor, EA exec Frank Gibeau also admits to GamesIndustry that going free-to-play is a no brainer:
“We’re going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we’re going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It’s all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we’re not looking to make any abrupt changes. We made some good announcements in terms of giving you the first few levels free, because our telemetry told us that if we can get you to around level 8 or 9, you stick with us for the long term.
Considering that the SWTOR dev team went through a round of layoffs last month, most likely tied to the game’s falling subscriber count, an early turnaround into free-to-play might be better for everyone in the long run. Since F2P MMOs just seem to be bleeding money nowadays, going that route would likely see a huge spike in activity for BioWare and LucasArts’ game.