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Today Electronic Arts announced that their massive Bioware-built MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall.  The game will be supported with microtransactions, following in the footsteps of titles like Lord of the Rings Online and City of Heroes. This must be some sort of record for an MMO flexing into a new business model this close to launch. 

Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic added, “Since launch, we’ve been listening to feedback from our fans and adding new content and refining The Old Republic at a breakneck pace. 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.”

I wasn't really enamored of what SWTOR was at launch, and friends have been trying to convince me to come back to the game in the wake of Update 1.3.  Now that it won't cost me anything to play the game I definitely would consider coming back, if only to find out what happens in the storylines of my characters.  

Starting this fall, there will be two different ways to play Star Wars: The Old Republic:

  • Subscription – A service designed for players who want unrestricted access to all the game features via ongoing subscription or by redeeming a Game Time Card. In addition to gaining access to all game content as our current subscribers do now, subscribers will receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins, the new virtual currency that will be introduced later this fall. Cartel Coins can be used to purchase valuable in-game items including customizable gear and convenience features that will enhance the game play experience.   
  • Free-To-Play – The first 50 levels will be Free-to-Play, with restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins.

As the first step towards adding the new Free-to-Play option this fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic will go on sale in August for $14.99 USD, including one-month of free subscription.

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As foretold! 

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