Updated: Star Wars: The Old Republic BioWare looking into free-to-play
Update: EA comments on how The Old Republic might use a free-to-play model.
games™ would like to make a correction to the original article posted 14 June. While Emmanuel Lusinchi was discussing whether Old Republic could transition to other business models, we misquoted the lead designer in the original post. Lusinchi did not explicitly use the words “free-to-play” but did answer a question about the possibility of The Old Republic going free-to-play by saying “we are looking into everything.”
Here is the entire quote from the interview: “The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” he says. “We are looking at everything but I can’t tell you in much detail. This decision is a little bit above my pay grade. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on.”
EA Labels President Frank Gibeau recently spoke to GamesIndustry.biz about the future of Star Wars: The Old Republic: “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. It’s all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we’re not looking to make any abrupt changes.”
EA announced at E3 that Star Wars: The Old Republic would include free-to-play up to level 15. Whether or not this was what Lusinchi was referring to or whether BioWare has larger plans for free-to-play remains to be seen.
BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic has faced some hard times since launching at the tail-end of 2011. Lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi discusses the effects of losing over 400,000 subscribers earlier in the year and facing off increasingly stiff competition from free-to-play competitors.
“I think it’s more than the free-to-play model – it’s more that there is a lot of competitive offers,” suggests Lusinchi. “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. Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations.”
Still, the advantages of free-to-play haven’t gone unnoticed by the developer. Asked whether it would be feasible to adapt The Old Republic to a free-to-play model, Lusinchi confirms that BioWare has been investigating the model.
“The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” says Lusinchi. ”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.”