Well E3 is over, and after all the excitement and speculation over server transfers, and big upcoming updates/expansions, I was shocked to to see this little bit of news to say the least. Games(TM) recently had a sit down with Emmaunuel Lusinchi, lead game designer for BioWare, and he hinted at the fact of going to a free to play model for Star Wars The Old Republic.
“The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” he says. “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.”
Frank Gibeau of Electronic Arts also added this.
“We’re going to be in the business from a long-term standpoint so absolutely we’re going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model,”
Am I surprised? yes and no. While SWTOR has had it’s ups and downs since it launched last December, the game, for being new, has actually done pretty well for itself. Granted they’ve mad some substantial mistakes, most of which are unacceptable for the veteran MMO player, but BioWare is one of the few companies out there that will listen to the community, and work on things accordingly based on the feedback they recieve. The game in general is solid compared to other MMO’s that have launched before it. BioWare has fixed some game breaking bugs rather quickly, and given us some pretty good content and features in a small amount of time. Why am I not surprised? simple, subscription based MMO’s are a thing of the past, and a lot of people speculated that SWTOR was the last of a dying breed. Now normally we would look at this news in a negative light, after all, going free to play after only launching in December, plus all of the events that have transpired over the past few months is bad PR for sure, but does this REALLY hurt the game? Games like TERA and Guild Wars are going free to play from the start, and it seems that’s the way other companies are headed. If this does end up happening only time will tell if it will help the game grow, or potentially be its downfall. What do you think?