Developers continue to claim that pay-to-play is the only viable financial model for an MMO game looking to maintain a reliable subscriber base and regular updates. However, Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic has shown that the free-to-play route is the way to go after an announcement from Electronic Arts president of labels, Frank Gibeau.
Although the games release wasn’t as rocky as previous MMO games it became obvious very quickly that Star Wars: The Old Republic would struggle to maintain a subscriber base with the pay-to-play financial model. EA announced that the game would become free-to-play last year and it went through on November 12th.
Since then the game has surpasses all expectations attracting over 1.7 million news players and 500,000 regular subscribers. Overall, the transition to the free-to-play model has more than doubled the monthly revenue for EA and Bioware.
“Since it was induced in November, we’ve added more than 1.7 million new players on the free model to the service,” Gibeau said. “And the number of subscriptions has stabilized at just under half a million.
“The really interesting thing that’s happening inside the service right now is monthly average revenue for the game has more than doubled since we introduced the free-to-play option. And as we look forward, we’re going to continually invest in new content for the service and for players every six weeks or so.”
Free-to-play, whether you love it or loathe it, announcements like this prove that you can still have a high-quality MMO without forcing monthly payments.