Well, that took all of about a fortnight. Pretty much everyone called this one, given the age of the expensive monthly subscription game seems to be over, bar a few very particular exceptions. So it is that the struggling juggernaut that is EA/Bioware's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic is to join the rapidly-swelling ranks of free to play. They've just announced that play up to level 50 will be gratis and open to all as of this
Fall Autumn. That's no moon - it's a fully-armed and operational new business model.*
All eight classes will be available, "with some restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. Some restrictions can be “unlocked” with Cartel Coins." The subscription model will continue in tandem with the F2P one, but renamed to 'Premium Players' who will be given a monthly allowance of 'Cartel Coins', which appear to be the new currency for microtransactions.
Honestly, there's a million catty things I could say about this, but I'm going to settle on 'told you so.' Because honestly, SWTOR was at least two years too late as a subscription game, and the MMO itself pulled way too many punches when it finally released after all those years and all that money EA spent on it.
“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. If it were me, I'd say "people simply didn't want to spend that much every month on a very familiar experience." But it's not me. It's Matthew Bromberg, GM of BioWare Austin.
More details on the F2P move here and specifically on planned content updates here. It's not due until "this Fall", but the base game will be discounted to $15 next month ahead of that. You should probably wait until
Fall Autumn, though. Free, see.
TOLD YOU SO NAH-NAH, NAH-NAH
*Yes I know I mangled together quotes from two different films. It's post-modern, probably.