Right now 1000+ gamers are all concurrently saying “called it”.
The Old Republic was expected by many to go free to play a few months after its release considering the large amount of MMORPGs that have followed the same pattern in the last year. Now it’s confirmed by EA in a press release that TOR will indeed be going F2P this fall.
So what does this mean for TOR? Not much really. It will only be free to play up to level 50 at which point you must purchase a subscription to unlock any restricted content. It’s a fairly typical transition to F2P and even with the restrictions TOR will likely be one of the highest quality F2P MMOs available. Chances are we’ll see a surge of players once it goes F2P and perhaps even a decrease in support for the game. EA poured money into TOR because they wanted to dethrone WoW, but making their game F2P just to maintain players means it has failed at doing so which means they’re likely going to throw their money somewhere else now. That’s just my prediction. It isn’t unlike EA to gut their support for a game simply because it hasn’t turned the kind of profits they wanted.
More importantly though, what does this mean for subscription business models for MMOs? Will upcoming MMOs like The Secret World be able to rake in enough revenue as non-F2P games if TOR couldn’t? These days World of Warcraft seems like the only game capable of maintaining the necessary amount of players to justify continuing with a paid subscription model. Does that mean subscriptions have fallen out of favor with gamers so heavily that any game to employ them is doomed to fail?
Not that The Old Republic has failed as a subscription based game. It still has a hefty amount of subscribers currently and it has very few flaws with it despite not quite living up to the golden ‘WoW standard’ in some areas that many MMO veterans swear by. In fact, once it goes F2P it will be able to contend with WoW better than it ever could before.
The only thing this shift to F2P really means is that TOR has failed to replace WoW as the king of MMOs and that F2P is becoming the new dominant form of business model for games. Then again both of those facts were pretty obvious prior to this announcement.