Star Wars: The Old Republic is a commercial hit, but it also has plenty of investment to make up for. The game uses a standard subscription model, and doesn't seem to be planning to change that anytime soon. Game director James Ohlen admits that the audience for subscription MMOs is "limited," and most players only take on one at a time. Still, he suggests that more than one MMO can find success.
"Obviously, there can only be a few subscription-based games," Ohlen told IGN. "There is a limited MMO audience and not a ton of that audience is playing more than one MMO, but I still think there's room for more than just one really successful online game. I think Star Wars: The Old Republic can coexist with World of Warcraft and other successful games like Rift. You can have multiple MMOs with a subscription being successful as long as those games fulfill the requirements of high quality, good polish, lots of content, and continuing to do high value updates on a regular basis."
Despite more MMOs moving to a free-to-play model in the waning months of The Old Republic's development, he says it "didn't really impact us." He reiterated earlier comments that the size and scope of the game makes it a different tier than F2P titles. "The quality, the polish has to be very, very high, and then you need to have a plan to continue to deliver free content on a regular basis. If you do those things, I think you can succeed as a subscription-based game."
Ohlen has previously said that the team is focused on a subscription model "right now." For the time being, though, BioWare seems to be sticking to its guns on the traditional model.