Bioware's "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is set to convert to a hybrid Free-to-Play model on November 15th, and once again take the MMORPG industry by storm! As with when the game launched not quite a year ago, in December 2011, SWTOR is expected to break all records and put all other games in the industry to shame!
I have it on good authority that many companies that are running F2P MMOs are considering fleeing back to the relative safety of a subscription model, or closing down their Free-to-Play games entirely, due to the imminent threat of SWTOR's arrival in the F2P playground.
"There's just not enough players willing to play a game for free to go around!" One developer told me, on condition of anonimity. "Bioware knocked off all the other subscription MMOs when they launched SWTOR last year, and now they want to put our F2P games out of business, too!"
It's true, the launch of SWTOR last year was a watershed moment in the history of massively multiplayer online role playing games. Before then, there were several highly successful subscription-based MMORPGs, including the venerable "World of Warcraft". But in the first few months after SWTOR launched, one after another the subscription-based MMOs fell like dominoes. The first to go was of course Trion's "Rift", but this had been foretold for months previous to SWTOR launching.
A shame, really. I liked "Rift".
Anyway, after "Rift" went under, subscription games like "Warhammer: Age of Reckoning" quickly adopted the free-to-play model, in an effort to survive in the very large shadow SWTOR cast over the industry. It wasn't until Blizzard announced they were closing shop entirely, though, that people realized just what we were facing: "Star Wars: The Old Republic" was indeed, figuratively and now literally, a "WoW Killer".
But not willing to rest on their laurels as the only subscription-model MMO left in operation, Bioware announced a few months back that they would be converting SWTOR to a free-to-play model this Autumn, in an effort to further increase their hold on the MMO industry. While no one outside of Bioware and EA know exactly how many people play SWTOR, it is estimated to be roughly 22 million worldwide, and that number is expected to rise significantly, once the free-to-play transition occurs.
"How can we fight against that?" Another F2P developer told me, "It's like they want SWTOR to be the only MMO left in the world!"
When asked for a comment, a representative from Bioware stated "As you can see, my young blogger, those games have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL MMORPG!"