By Jonathan Charles | Aug 01, 2012 12:33 PM EDT
At E3 2012, BioWare announced that it's MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will offer free-to-play (F2P) access up to level 15. Seen as premeditating a complete free-to-play model, BioWare has announced that the F2P level cap will be raised to 50 and the company will offer limited access to the full game this fall.
Players will have access to the game's eight storylines and the title's full range of content, BioWare announced in a press release (PR). New high-level content along with "new features" will be available through a monthly subscription, or individual payments.
"Players wanted 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," general manager of BioWare Austin - Matthew Bloomberg - said in the press release.
Two models will run concurrently from fall 2012, when free-to-play features launch. There's a monthly subscription, offering unrestricted access to the game. It will also bring "monthly grants" for a new virtual currency, Cartel Coins. Coins can be used to purchase in-game gear and "convenience features that will enhance the gameplay experience," according to BioWare in the PR.
The F2P route will offer restricted access to the game's contents, though Coins - a form of in-game currency - can remove barriers. Basically, aside from having full access to the story content, F2P players have limited access to features including character creation (can't choose from the full selection of species) and world travel.
For a full list of the differences between paying a subscription and no fee, take a look at a table BioWare has created for comparing the models.
BioWare also said it will be increasing the rate of content updates, with the first in August 2012 (no specific release date has been revealed). Current subscribers will get Cartel Coin "grants" also, presumably a monthly quota, and "special" in-game items. The latter also applies to former players reactivating subscriptions.
Offering two models feels like a compromise by BioWare. The company announced the free-to-play-to-level-15 model just two months back. It's also seen layoffs at BioWare Austin, the development studio, and the resignation of the executive producer on the title.
With competition in the form of Guild Wars 2, launching August 28, 2012 (a completely sans subscription MMOG), it's a matter of time before Star Wars: The Old Republic is just free-to-play.
The free-to-play model goes live this fall. Star Wars: The Old Republic is available now.
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