With The Old Republic now free to play up to level 50, I’m sure some of you, including myself are wondering whether we should invest our time and hard drives to participate in the SWTOR community. While starting the 30GB installation of the game, I remembered how much fun it was watching this game progress through production and finally release. So now that the game has reached another big milestone I thought I would briefly follow the path that the Old Republic created to get where it is today and what kinds of things we can look forward to out of the game.
The most talked about parts of the game are still the incredible trailers. At the time Star Wars Galaxies was still the only Star Wars MMO around, but it was quite outdated in terms of how other MMOs have progressed and only catered to a small dedicated fanbase before it was inevitably shutdown. While a new game had been rumored for years, I don’t think any of us expected the shock of the Deceived trailer, in which a mysterious Sith lord conquers the Jedi Temple with an army of Sith warriors. Interest for the game skyrocketed from that point on. To me, the period before the game was released was the most exciting. It seemed like just about every day I was looking for news about the game, and then discussing the latest announcements with my friends or within the community. Even though I knew I probably would not be buying a subscription.
The Old Republic Launched on December 20th 2011 and received positive feedback by places like IGN and Gamespot who praised the production value, the stories, and characters of the game of the game, but also looked unfavorably at things such as repetitive corridor missions and disappointing space combat. The game reached approximately 1.7 million subscribers within two months of its release. The game was considered a success both critically and financially. But it seems the success of the MMO would not last for long. A report from Gamespot.com this last May reported that the subscriber base of the game had fallen from 1.7 million to 1.3 million in the time span of about four months. I was shocked at first to hear this, but thinking about how much this game is supposed to be based in an expansive story, rather than focusing on traditional MMO quests, it makes sense that the replay value could be quite low after completing the main storylines. While it may not interest some MMO players to have a set end to a character’s story, for someone like me, who does not have a lot of time to invest, I like the idea that I can play exclusively for the story from start to finish, and have that feeling of completion from the game that I never really received from most MMOs.
The big question is should we play it now that it’s free. It comes with some big kickers such as a 30 GB download, and investing actual time to play the game. But if you have both time and hard drive space available to you, then I would encourage you to give the game at least a try. This game offers so much promise as an immersive Star Wars game and the designs, and stories look remarkable for an MMO. Many talented artists, musicians, writers, and voice actors have created a unique world to explore and experience for yourself. The best part now is that it does not cost you a fortune to keep a subscription going, you can explore with all your friends for as long as you want. That to me is worth it, even if I can’t keep up with it all the time.
Whether it was because of the decline in sales, or just trying to find a new audience for the game, Star Wars: the Old Republic is now free to play! What does this mean for the game? Well, this is a good opportunity for the community to expand, allowing more people to have access to the vast universe that Bioware has so beautifully constructed. The free to play business model has been a success for games like Lord of the Rings online and will hopefully also work to keep the Old Republic alive and a valued part of the online Star Wars community. I’m looking forward to giving the game a try as soon as it finishes installing and I hope that many others decide to discover the possibilities of the Old Republic along as well!
Ryan Zasso first entered the Star Wars fan community in early 2010 with the podcast Fanboy’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interested in doing Star Wars related writing, he began writing for the Star Wars Report in 2011.