BioWare's massively multiplayer online RPG Star Wars: The Old Republic will go free-to-play later this year, publisher Electronic Arts said today.
Earlier this year, the game became free-to-play until level 15. In coming months, players will be able to play any storyline up to level 50 for free. To access higher-level game content and other new features that the company plans to implement, you'll have to either pay for a subscription or buy things individually.
"Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe," BioWare Austin GM Matthew Bromberg said in a press release.
Here are the two options BioWare has to offer, according to their press release:
Subscription — A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customisable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.
Free-To-Play — The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be "unlocked" with Cartel Coins.
If you're already a subscriber or you've subscribed to the game in the past, you'll get a bunch of rewards for your money: 150 Cartel Coins per paid month; 1000 Cartel Coins and a "Heroes' Banner" for Collector's Edition buyers; and extra bonuses for people who sign up between August 1 and the eventual free-to-play launch.
BioWare also promises more regular content updates in the near future, starting this August.
This is a decision that has been hinted at for a while. Earlier this year, following news that The Old Republic had lost a significant chunk of subscribers, BioWare's Emmanuel Lusinchi said they were considering the free-to-play move.
"Since launch, we've been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace," executive producer Jeff Hickman said in today's press release. "We believe we are in a position to help improve the service even more, not only by continuing to add new content, but also by expanding the game to many more Star Wars fans, increasing the populations on worlds and the vibrancy of the community."