Star Wars: The Old Republic was one of best hopes for an online RPG that could take on the mighty World of Warcraft. But, like so many others, its player base has dwindled after an initial surge. Now that fewer than a million are playing, EA has decided to make the game free to play.
EA Labs President Frank Gibeau claims that the game would break even with just 500,000 players paying the up-to £8.99 a month fee, but said that current performance was simply "not good enough". He said that 40 per cent of players were "turned off by the monthly subscription and many indicate they would come back if we offered a free-to-play model."
Analyst Michal Pachter agrees, saying that the move will bring the game at least 10 million new players, and up to "perhaps 50 million." When World of Warcraft has around 10 million, this seems a tad over-egged. Still, we're tempted to give it a shot. Would going free tempt you to don traditional Tatooine dress and piddle away dozens of hours for the online grind?
Michael Pachter: often entertaining, often way off the mark
Of course, as with virtually any free-to-play online RPG, there are still costs involved. The free version of Star Wars: The Old Republic will only let you progress to level 50, and doesn't give you access to all play areas, missions or player species. You're give "full access" to the game's story missions, but everything else is limited. To get full access, you'll have to subscribe for £8.99 a month as usual.
EA says that the freebie version of Star Wars: The Old Republic will kick in "this fall". Tempted, or are all online RPGs as fun as working down a coal mine? Let us know your view in the comments.