Star Wars: the Old Republic manager explains shift to free-to-play

Thursday, 30th August 2012 11:54 GMT By Dave Cook

Star Wars: The Old Republic is shifting to a free-to-play model after trying to capitalise on subscriptions from launch. General manager at BioWare Austin Matthew Bromberg has revealed to CVG why it’s making the switch.

With dropping subscription numbers, SWTOR’s move makes sense, but why has it taken BioWare Austin so long to see what we’ve all been thinking from day one?

Speaking with CVG, Bromberg explained, “Well we looked at it and thought, what is the size of opportunity for your brand? There are tens of millions of Star Wars fans, how many have tried our game? How many would like to try it? Clearly the awareness of the brand is really high so what’s standing in the way?”

“We did a lot of research and found that people who gave it a try but left found the subscription to be the biggest barrier. So it was a pretty straightforward decision for us.”

With less subscriptions to monetise, it’s unclear how BioWare Austin will respond to the drop in income. Bromberg explained, “Yes there is that risk, but we feel our existing subscribers see the value in the premium experience we are offering. We want to keep that full experience for them.”

“One thing we’re doing is rewarding subscribers with in-game currency for all the time that they’ve been subscribers,” Bromberg added, “and lapsed subscribers will have currency for the time they were there, which offers them a reward for coming back.”

“So our subscribers are going to be advantaged in this world, and from the feedback we’ve got from our subscribers they seem to be happy with it. But it’s not just about how we are charging people for the experience; we are also looking at creating very frequent content updates as well,” Bromberg concluded.



  1. Hirmetrium

    And what about those who bought the game? That’s £40 that has fast gone down the crapper for most of us. That’s the biggest insult. My £40 has bought me nothing. Even my half used 3-month left me disappointed, with the first patch seriously lacking the legacy enhancements that were promised/expected (delayed to 1.2) and very little in terms of new content. My subscription had ended by that point, and so had my excitement.

    Broken PVP based on some stupid powered up gear ATTAINED BY RANDOM ROLLS, artificial daily lockouts from PVE instances preventing you to gear up for raids, and a silly raid loot system where loot is auto-assigned. My guild had a fit when they first found this out, and we were gone within the month.

    And, so far, this move has proven to me what a waste of money it was to buy the game on release. There has been no incentive to come back. My retail box will remain an expensive paperweight.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Phoenixblight


    Opposite for me and what they give for the subs for when the switch would make DCUo or various other MMO that switched blush. I can’t wait until it goes f2P and I get over 3k of cartel coins for subing and getting the collectors edition.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. DSB

    I guess I’m part of a dying breed, but I don’t mind subscribing to a good MMO, if it means I’ll be free of artificial scarcity.

    I just think it serves to make the games themselves better, instead of a pseudo-storefront that’s constantly trying to goad me into buying something.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. viralshag

    @3, It’s funny that while I wouldn’t and don’t want to pay a sub for most of the MMOs that have launched lately, I would happily do so for GW2 which doesn’t ask for one.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. GrimRita

    Its incredible to think that those poor suckers left paying for this turd havent had anything new added since April. Yet, they are expected to wait on more shallow promises of new content at a price.

    Bioware/EA are keeping their fingers crossed that F2P will see an uplift – which it wont. The game engine already prevents a majority of players joining and when they do, like the 1 million other players – they quit because its simply shit.

    Paying for an MMO isnt something that is dying – players want to see value for their money and if its worth the investment, they will pay. But if you launch a crap product, charge top dollar, and provide 1 major content update – is it any wonder?!

    Guild Wars 2, which is free – simply puts SWTOR to shame. The game is just vast, well thought out and has fantastic WvW elements and crafting.

    Yes, I am pissed because the Auction House is still broken and I am getting close to becoming a huge deal but the difference between GW2 and SWTOR is night and day

    #5 2 years ago
  6. viralshag

    @ Grim, If there are many more people like you and me that have already spent the equivalent of a couple of months worth of subs in GW2, within the opening week, I expect new content by the end of its first month. ;)

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Talkar

    No new content since April? suuuure….

    #7 2 years ago
  8. GrimRita

    @7 Name the updates that have added new flashpoints, warzones, etc -


    Since then, its just been bug fixes and adding functionality that should have been there since day 1.

    @6 Yeah, I am up to £50 now. Purchase some armour, and mostly bank slots as I am trying to grind Chef but just do not have any more storage left.

    WvW is just fucking awesome!

    #8 2 years ago
  9. DSB

    So you’re actually spending way more right now than you ever would on a subbed MMO during the first month :P

    I guess it makes sense when there’s no real endgame. For me it’s probably going to be a case of maxing out a character or maybe two, and then putting it away.

    But then in the meantime I’ll still have to look at all that artificial scarcity driving the gem sales.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. viralshag

    I’ve definitely spent more than I would normally. Of course I don’t actually need to spend real money as I could trade a couple of gold for some new character slots or bank space.

    But like Grim says, with the AH being down the only way to make real money is questing, selling in chat or selling to vendors. None of which really make money fast unless you have some decent stock of materials.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Talkar

    You didn’t say it had to be flashpoints or warzones, it just had to be content. But the recent world event is new content. No matter how you twist it to make the game look worse than it is.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. GrimRita

    @11 a so called ‘live’ event isnt content update. Im talking about ACTUAL additions to the game for those PAYING their hard earned money. As of today, 1 update @ £8.99 doesnt offer value for money.

    And I dont need to make the game look worse, its done a good job doing that itself. After all, over 1 million people have quit in record time.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Talkar

    So let me get this straight, adding new stuff to the game that a player can interact with for hours and days isn’t content, unless it is on your arbitrary list of what is and isn’t content?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. TheWulf


    Yeeeeah but that’s intellectual dishonesty, isn’t it? In fact, it’s so brazenly so that it makes you look a little foolish for even saying it. I mean, any MMO fan is going to be able to call you on that because there’s artificial scarcity in every subscription MMORPG.

    Now, it comes down to whether you understand what artificial scarcity is. If you do, then you already understand that having gear which has a 0.05% drop rate in WoW raids is artificial scarcity. So paying a subscription for World of Warcraft doesn’t avoid that, does it? And every subscription MMORPG I’ve seen has a similar system.

    What you’re saying, which is intentionally false (or just woefully naive), is that if you pay a subscription, the MMORPG hands you everything on a silver platter and doesn’t ever hold anything back from you. That’s simply not true.

    And before you choose to argue with me, ensure that you understand what artificial scarcity is: “Artificial scarcity describes the scarcity of items even though the technology and production capacity exists to create an abundance.” That describes WoW raid gear that you have to spend months and months of your life raiding for in a nutshell.

    So whilst WoW might not goad you to buy something from a store, it instead goads you to spend your life (and your monthly fee) raiding for the same end result. Think about it, it’s the same thing.

    Though, contrarily, Guild Wars 2 has avoided this issue by allowing you to exchange in-game money for store gems, both ways around, so that even kind of sidesteps the idea that a game without a subscription has to have artificial scarcity too, doesn’t it? In other words, your post is misleading because according to my own experiences, the opposite is true. WoW forces artificial scarcity upon me, GW2 does not.

    You’re part of a dying breed because you keep woefully hoping that you can con yourself into believing that your own intellectually dishonest nonsense is true, and that it isn’t the opposite of reality as we know it.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. TheWulf


    The difference is the choice. Here are the realities as we know them:

    Reality #1: You pay your monthly subscription or you have your game taken away from you. This means that you have to maximise the amount of time in the game in order to justify the subscription. Goodbye social life, goodbye job, goodbye responsibilities! It becomes worse when you have peer pressure from a guild or some such to not quit. Does this describe you?

    Reality #2: You can buy some stuff on a store. It isn’t mandatory, but it’s there as an option and it presents a direct money for goods trade system. You pay something, you get something. Thus far, I haven’t had to spend a penny in GW2, but I’ve spent money on the store because there are some cosmetic outfits (like the pirate one) that I decided I wanted. Mostly because I felt I wanted to give ArenaNet more money. That was my choice.

    One is representative of choice, the other is not.


    Oh, and keep in mind that you can trade in-game money for gems, as I mentioned in my prior post. :P

    Geez, I’m sorry DSB, but ArenaNet has you over a barrel.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. OrbitMonkey

    ^ Methinks you’d like DSB over a barrel… If you know what I mean ;-)

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    Honestly I’d be glad to have TheWulf come along whenever I’m looking a little foolish :P

    I don’t think I could actually write a better parody of a fanboy.

    #17 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.