The once ailing MMORPG has gained two million new accounts following the switch to free-to-play.
When Star Wars: The Old Republic first launched, it looked like it could be the game to challenge World of Warcraft’s dominance of subscription-based MMOs. Its subscription base was the fastest growing in the genre’s history, with more than 1.7 million people joining the game in less than two months. Things didn’t stay rosy for long, though. Despite high early subscription rates, players began to leave the game. In an attempt to boost its faltering membership, the game’s publisher, Electronic Arts, decided to switch The Old Republic to a free-to-play model in late 2012. It’s a move that seems to have paid off. In the months since, The Old Republic has added more than two million new players.
This boost in membership was announced by Jeff Hickmen, executive producer of The Old Republic, on the game’s development blog. In addition to discussing the increase in subscriptions, Hickman also acknowledged some of the issues that may have driven players away in the game’s early days. “We were starting to lose subscribers and players were growing frustrated,” said Hickman. “In fairness, many of the complaints were justified. In an effort to address everything, we just weren’t sufficiently focused on improving the core experience.” Key among the complaints of many players was a lack of content following the game’s story heavy main quests. In response, Bioware and EA have been working on several updates, including one, soon-to-be-released, that will allow for in-game same-sex relationships, though not to the extent that some were hoping for.
Hickman also acknowledged that despite some the improvements that have been made since it launched, there are still issues to resolve in The Old Republic. “We will keep at it, I promise,” said Hickman. “We’ll keep listening to your feedback and continue to dedicate ourselves to making the game the best it can be. Nothing is more important to us than getting it right.”
In all likelihood, EA and Bioware can’t afford to get it wrong. According to some estimates EA spent close to $500 million making The Old Republic. That’s not the sort of investment you can just shrug off if things don’t work out.
Source: Game Informer