Oh, Old Republic. You were clamored for by so many once upon a time. While the game has certainly been a financial success, it certainly hasn’t been the MMO juggernaut many thought it would be.
In their quarterly earnings call yesterday, EA said that paid subscribers for Star Wars: The Old Republic has fallen from 1.3 million last quarter to below one million this past quarter. EA did also mention that only 500,000 subscribers were needed to make the game “substantially profitable,” and the current subscriber count was still “well above” that mark.
As a result of the subscriber drop off, the decision has been made to make The Old Republic free-to-play beginning this Fall. Players will be able to play all the way up to Level 50 with no cost to them; only higher level content and new features will be locked away under the subscription model or individual purchases. As part of the movement to free-to-play, SW:TOR will go on sale in August for the low price of $14.99 (which also includes a one month subscription).
Bad news for TOR, which is seeing this transition to a FTP model less than one year after its launch. EA seems to think this will drive in new subscribers, but when you’re giving people the proverbial cow, there’s not much incentive to buy the milk. Allowing free access to essentially the entire campaign for free is nuts. Most people I know who played TOR played it until the campaign was done, not really getting into the endgame content.
A couple of other notes from the earnings call: Battlefield 3′s Premium service has seen over 1.3 million subscribers to date, pre-orders for Madden NFL 13 are up 25% over the previous year, and FIFA 12 and Battlefield 3 continue performing, as they combined for over 2 million units sold this past quarter despite the fact both released in September and October respectively last year. Additionally, FIFA 12′s Football Ultimate Team has contributed over $30 million(!) in net digital revenue to date.
Anyone out there still playing The Old Republic? Anyone going to give the game a shot once it goes free-to-play? Let us know in the confab section below!