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BioWare considering free-to-play Old Republic

Lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi indicates BioWare "looking into" Star Wars MMO game dropping subscription fee in favor of free business model.


BioWare is examining the possibility of making its massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic a free-to-play title. Speaking to GamesTM, lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi explained that the MMO space is constantly evolving, and BioWare must adapt to the changes.

Is The Old Republic heading to planet FTP?
Is The Old Republic heading to planet FTP?

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

Lusinchi went on to note his belief that free-to-play games are elevating in quality, becoming genuine competition. This competition, he said, is driving BioWare to consider its options moving forward.

"If it was just free-to-play games and they weren't very good, it wouldn't even be a question, but there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out, so of course all of this competition impacts your plan with what you want to do," he said.

This is not the first time BioWare has said the MMO genre is a demanding business to be in. Last month, Lusinchi explained that "the MMO is the toughest part of the game industry without a doubt, and we live in tough economic times in general."

Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in December to a warm critical reception, and the game tallied 2 million in sales and attracted 1.7 million paying subscribers by February. Last month, publisher Electronic Arts revealed the game had shed 400,000 users, falling to 1.3 million. Later that month, a round of layoffs also hit BioWare.

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