Star Wars: The Old Republic 'looking at free-to-play'

As with most new subscription-based MMOs, it seems that the big question about Star Wars: The Old Republic is not if it'll go free-to-play, but when. BioWare has said it's having a good look at that market, but isn't yet announcing any concrete plans to move into it.

Speaking to gamesTM, lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi said that free-to-play games wouldn't be competitors if they weren't any good, but "there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out, so of course all of this competition impacts your plan with what you want to do."

"The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well" he explained. "Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations. So we are looking at free-to-play but I can't tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on."

The Old Republic shed 25 percent of its players between February and the end of March, down from 1.7 million subscribers to 1.3 million. In May, one player estimated that there were only an average of 344 people on each server. BioWare's Old Republic team was recently hit with layoffs too, though of course an MMO needs fewer people to maintain it as time goes on.

The MMO market is about to get a little busier, too. Funcom's subscribalicious and supernatural The Secret World is out next week, while ArenaNet's subscription-free Guild Wars 2 is expected before the year's end.

Still, work on new content continues. Our John had a gander during E3 at what's to come later in the year, including a cat-like playable race, an HK-51 assassin droid companion, and new operations and war zones.