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This Fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free to Play

Well this was rather inevitable: Amid stories of dwindling subscriber numbers and months of rumors Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall (while still maintaining a subscriber option). It’s easy to be snarky and all, “well duh,” about the announcement, but in truth I have to applaud. The Old Republic isn’t a bad game. There’s a whole lot of it that I enjoyed quite a bit, and not just because lightsabers have been and will always be cool. It’s just not, “Here, take $15 of my money every single month,” good. For me, it’s the sort of game you hop into every now and then when there’s nothing else on your plate, and that’s a perfect fit for the free-to-play model. I wouldn’t even mind dumping some money into the game every now and again if I’m playing it a lot in a given week and the benefits seem worth it.

So, how’s this all going to work…

You can check the link above for the full details, but for dedicated players the subscription program isn’t going away. Bioware is turning to a new currency system, referred to as Cartel Coins. Since there’s like eighty other currency forms in the game (the badges), what’s one more? The coins can be used at the Cartel Market to… make purchases of some kind that involve “valuable items, customizable gear, and convenience features that will enhace the game play experience.” Who’d of guessed?

People who stick with the subscription program will get an allotment of Cartel Coins every month, along with access to content for characters over level 50. Free-to-play subscribers will also face some “content restrictions” and miss some “advanced player features.”

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Oh EA. You can always be relied upon for unabashedly dishing on the specifics.

As an additional enticement to get players playing now, and not just when it all goes free, there’s another info page showing what’s coming in terms of new in-game content and information on bonuses players will received for continue to pay now (mostly more Cartel Coins to spend). Thanks, but I think I can manage to wait this out. In the fall, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if old Sarevok rides again.

Go on with your bad self.

Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at

9 thoughts to “This Fall, Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free to Play”

  1. Note to potential MMORPG customers. Don’t wait for the price drop. Wait for the MFer to be _free_.

  2. Not unexpected, but still pretty cool. When I started playing ‘the secret world’ recently (which has been a blast) that was basically the final death blow for swtor since I won’t pay for more than one mmo at a time, but I always kind of wanted to at least finish leveling my main avatar. Now I just need the secret world to go free to play, too.

    “content restrictions” sounds ominous.

  3. Free-to-play subscribers will also face some “content restrictions” and miss some “advanced player features.”

    Translation : Experience the Beta again ! Only $14.99 ! (End Game not included. Some restrictions may apply, void where prohibited. See your local Bantha for details)

    I’m sure they’ll be a surge to “check out” the game (e.g. those that didn’t participate in the beta), but as far as longevity goes, it’s done. This time next year I’d bet it’ll be around 500k paying users. I figured they’d try & release it before GW2, but dropping it during the MoP release window (wake) is just insane.

  4. I doubt I will pick this up again, but free to play is a good option.

    It got an extra month out of me, so it was one up on Rift, Aion, Champions, and whatever else I tried.

    I didn’t think MMOs were my thing any more, turns out it was just those, as I am giving Secret World another month, and in this case it isn’t to see if I like it any better, it’s because I already love it.

  5. decent game. had a lot of fun leveling and doing end game (regardless of it being limited, faction imbalance, etc). fact is – this isnt 2004 anymore and the video game market is so over saturated that game life spans (for MOST games) are way less than the work time put into them. games like this (all MMOs at this point. GW2 and Elder Scroll’s will go through the same collapse) and Diablo III are a complete waste of time regardless if they make their money back and profit because they dont live long enough to develop anything substantial within the infrastructure. populations drop after 2-3 months and you just get cult obsessed who end up living their lives in game. balance that out with whiny western AAA consumer babies who are impatient and must keep treading through the garbage of “NEW NEW NEW”. there’s your generalized video game market.

    why keep up with that and participate in Pop Games? its no different from following pop musics conveyor belt of shit but in video game form. no thanks.

  6. I’m a big fan of the game, and still a playing subscriber (yeah, yeah). I hope this will lead to positive things. I am a bit worried that some promised content, like same sex romance and playable Cathar species, haven’t been discussed in the upcoming features. Heck, they still haven’t implemented an hood up/down toggle button yet. Then again, maybe it will be one of those things the ‘cartel’ coins can buy.

  7. That’s not at all shocking. Personally I’m waiting for Secret World to make its way to F2P so I can check it out. It sounds pretty good.

    I liked SWTOR when I was playing it, but after years of WoW I’m just kind of tired of the “Go to Quest #1, Go to Quest #2, etc.” wheel. I picked up New Vegas on the Steam Summer Sale, and it’s fun, but… I dunno. I’m just tired of the go here, now go here, now go here part of RPGs at the moment.

  8. I was in the beta, and really liked the game, but not enough to be like ‘this is something I need to pay $60 every 4 months for’

    I hate to admit it, but this was the first MMO I consciously waited to go FTP, because the story and world are great, but it’s so much more of the same when it comes to gameplay. There’s a part of me that’s a little sad the subscription model is mostly done for, but then I remember that this is basically ad-supported high-quality free gaming, and the ads are all for the game you’re already playing.

    If it’s well done, or at the least, mostly unobtrusive, it’s hard to get upset about a freemium model.

  9. I’m actually pretty happy to hear this. I love the Star Wars universe, and who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to run around with a light saber? However, the cool world and interesting stories countered by the “fetch 10 potato peels” quest mechanics and click and wait for cooldowns combat system just didn’t seem worth the $15/month. I’ll definitely check it out once it goes free to play.

    Also, I just heard Todd Brakke say, “Go on with your bad self,” in my head. So, thank you for that.

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