BioWare Is 'Looking At Free-to-Play' For Star Wars: The Old Republic

Back in December BioWare's duelling doctors told us they couldn't see their newly-launched massively multiplayer online Star Wars role-playing game going free-to-play in the foreseeable future. Then BioWare botched several free game updates and lost a good chunk of the game's subscribers. Suddenly free-to-play isn't looking so bad. In an interview with Games(TM), lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi says the popular pay model is being explored.

The MMO market is like none other in the games industry. The customers are more demanding. The support is more intensive. The development cycle never ends, and where there are bugs in your code or kinks in your gameplay the reaction is massive and brutal. BioWare in an incredibly accomplished and reliable video game developer, but one does not simply go massively multiplayer.

The past seven months have been pretty brutal for Star Wars: The Old Republic, rife with small problems exacerbated by the fact that BioWare is at the helm. If this were a game from a traditional MMO outfit fans would probably have been more accepting of the missteps. Then again, if BioWare were a dedicated MMO studio they might not have made the missteps in the first place. That and the power of the brand and the developer drew in players that had never played an MMO before. They were certainly not prepared for all of this.

So here we are, seven months later, exploring the unforeseeable future with lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi.

"The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well," he says. "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."

It's a wise decision. The free-to-play model allows a developer much more room to make mistakes and be forgiven. And, as demonstrated by games like Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online, going free-to-play often equals a massive influx of cash, which can then be used to subsidise those updates players are constantly demanding.

Hell, I'd pay $US20 for a pink lightsaber.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: "we are looking at free-to-play," says lead designer [Games(TM)]


Comments

    I would not ever pay for TOR again but may come back if it was f2p. At least until GW2 hits.

    Boy, that was quick! They must be hemorrhaging users fast.

    I don't think going F2P will help, Bioware have already screwed the pooch enough with the mistakes they made with this game. There's still hardly any endgame content, the population is still spread out way too much (although I heard they're offering free transfers or something) to the point where there's only a handful on a server at a given time. ToR is just a mess, and going F2P won't fix it.

    I played for 2 months, I think the loading times and the fact my computer couldn't run it very well killed it for me. I'll play it again if it goes f2p, might even get another month anyway to finish off my character's story.

    Hmmmm I may need to smash through some content and get as much gear as possible, kinda sad about tor's failing..

    I stop playing when 1.2 wrecked healing sorcs.

    If the pace of their updates are anything to go by, Guild Wars 2 and MoP will be out and thriving before Bioware/EA have even finished talking about going F2P.

    F2P would work... I think what would be better is just to take it offline for a couple of months, fix up the end-game, add a couple more planets for the leveling experience. Balance classes at lower levels.

    Maybe expand the space dailies too, take them off the rails just a bit less.

    Oh and given me a reason to stop playing WoW where I have all these features that you're planning on adding... Hate WoW all you want, its polished and clean.

    Won't matter though, unless its F2P i'll not be going back, especially once GW2 hits.

    If it goes F2P I would play it again, I have had more fun playing this game then wow
    There is lot that need to be fixed but I can wait.

    I'm quite enjoying tor, I have to admit. But I'm only playing it as a single player game, and if I understand the issues people are having with it, then I believe they are mostly based around the multiplayer. While the single player aspect is no kotor, I'm still enjoying the story lines for my 4 characters, and I'm not finding it too grind intensive.

      that's pretty much it, it's a good singleplayer game, but they're charging a subscription fee for it, hence a lot of people feel that it's worth it.

        that's pretty much it, it's a good singleplayer game, but they're charging a subscription fee for it, hence a lot of people feel that it's not worth it.

    I was going to get this on launch day until it was announced that the "Worldwide" Launch didn't include Australia. I knew I could import it but never got around to doing it. Plus I had (and still do) a massive backlog of other games i wanted to get through.

    At the moment I have only ever played it in the Beta and Free weekends. With the limited time i do have to play games i cant really justify paying a monthly sub for any game. I think that if it did go F2P then i would jump into it... even just for the story. I could then play at my own pace and not be forcing myself through it so i am not wasting my money

    They never fixed the game being unresponsive. It's still a clunky horrible interface and not worth revisiting.

    Justice!!!

    I love the Star Wars IP. I love Bioware. The stories and conversation trees were fantastic. I wanted to love SWTOR but I hated the combat and mobility first and foremost - as well as some other specific design decisions. They really had the option of pushing the envelope and being *truly* innovative. While they brought a few new bits and pieces I felt they gave us a Star Wars-skinned WoW in space and that was not what I was looking for.

    It's almost like it appeared that they made a conscious design decision to mimic WoW combat and mechanics to ease the transition of WoW players into SWTOR but I got the impression from many people that they didn't want more of the same but were after something completely different.

    Even if they make it free to play the combat and mobility are enough to keep me away.

    If the game goes F2P I will leave it.

    I hate to think what a mess they will make of a transition to f2p or how graspy the ca$h $hop will be.

    yes it is worth paying for and i will continue to do so...

    Bioware's biggest F. up was firstly releasing a game that was AT BEST 50% done (Though to me, it looked more like 30%) what with it's numerous bugs, game imbalances etc and secondly spreading all the functions within the game across several patches. For example the Legacy system which they hyped to no end is still not fully released. What is the point of having Legacy come out half a year later when players would have a few toons over level 20 already?? And when part of Legacy finally does come out, it is near useless to just about anyone and everyone. Make a family tree?? Whoopee. It adds no game benefits in doing so except if you finish Chapter 1 and you can now use buffs between your toons.

    Bioware are clowns plain and simple. First Dragon Age 2 started their fall from grace, then the debacle of Mass Effect 3 and now SWTOR and the game's contents continually being dragged out and drip fed to it's players. Then these same idiots wonder why the subscriber base is over this once promising game.

    And let's be honest, with Bioware's recent spate of F.Up's, I am sure they will find a way to screw F2p as well.

    Same old tired game-play after you get over the "OMG STORY LINE" part of the game. Engine is horrible, world is small and empty of players and over populated with NPC's in most places. Sense of exploration is zero. SWG was better on so many levels.....
    The PVP is just horrid, honestly it was almost as bad as WoW's pvp.

    Yeah I got bored with it, then when I upgraded my phone to ICS, I realised that the unlock code thingy wouldn't work anymore, and they told me that I had to ring some support desk to talk to them about getting it removed from my account blahdy blahdy blah honestly, CBF, so I stopped playing.
    Too much grinding to get to the end where you get all the cool toys.

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