Star Wars: The Old Republic will shed its required subscription fee when it becomes the next in the line of massively multiplayer online role-playing games to implement a full free-to-play feature this fall. BioWare announced the change today, opening the game past its current level 15 limit for free players, in advance of parent company Electronic Arts' first quarter earnings call.
After free players log into the Star Wars: The Old Republic, they will be able to play as any of the game's eight classes, though some races will be limited. They will be able to advance to the game's current level cap of 50, but some of the content along the way will either be restricted, such as some travel options or the number of player-versus-player warzones they can join in a given time, or outright closed off, such as the game's raid-like Operations. These restrictions can be lifted either with microtransactions or subscriptions--for more information check the official website's feature comparison list.
Star Wars: The Old Republic will also be made available for $15 with a one-month subscription August 6 in advance of the transition. Matthew Bromberg, BioWare Austin studio general manager, said in an interview with GameSpot that the changes were made directly in response to player feedback. He said the game's subscriber base had declined slightly (EA's first quarter financial call revealed the numbers dipped below 1 million) but the changes were more in response to broader trends in the industry.
"The reality of the marketplace today … is that the subscription model is a barrier for consumers," Bromberg said. He said the modifications to the game will let free players experience the majority of its content while giving them incentives to pay for unfettered access. Jeff Hickman, Star Wars: The Old Republic's executive producer, said players will be able to purchase means to advance more quickly and conveniently through the game. Subscribers will also receive a stipend of the game's microtransaction currency to spend on vanity items or other bonuses in the in-game store.