Despite the successful launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic late last year, noises are coming from Bioware that indicate the company may be considering a possible shift from their current subscription-based service to a free-to-play model.
In a recent interview in gamestm, The Old Republic's lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi talked candidly about the pressures the MMO faces from the growing collection of quality free-to-play games currently available.
Lusinchi explained: "The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well. 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."
The MMO has had a mixed time of late, with a successful launch leading quickly to a raft of cancelled subscriptions and a small number of staff layoffs. Given the considerable investment made in bring the game to market (estimates vary, but they're all agreed it is somewhere in the region of $200 million USD), EA and Bioware will be desperate to make sure the game continues to draw a crowd and remain relevant.
"I think it's more than the free-to-play model - it's more that there is a lot of competitive offers," said Lusinchi when considering the competition faced by the MMO. "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."
Whilst his statement does indicate a willingness by EA and Bioware to investigate the possibilities of making Star Wars: The Old Republic free-to-play, we're still some way off seeing it become reality. Though with dwindling numbers and increasing competition, dropping the monthly subscription fee might be just the tonic needed to help SWTOR feel the Force once again.
Head over to our Forum and let us know what you think.