Preceding EA's latest quarterly investor call -- where the publisher revealed that Star Wars: The Old Republic subscriber numbers had slipped below one million players -- developer BioWare has announced the long expected news, that their MMO will soon be adding a free to play option.
Due to roll out in Spring 2012 (US Fall, expected to be in November), the free to play option will give all-comers access to all eight classes and storylines right up to level 50, but some "new content and advanced player features" will be restricted and unlockable via micro-transactions with a new game currency called "Cartel Coins".
Paid subscription will continue to be an option, and subscribers will have immediate access to all new game content, as well as receive a monthly "allowance" of Cartel Coins to purchase the customisable gear and "convenience features" from the new marketplace.
“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,” said Matthew Bromberg, GM of BioWare Austin.
Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic added, “Since launch we have been adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace based on the feedback from our fans. 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.”
More details on the transition to free to play can be found in this official press release
, and on this preview page on the game's official site