Star Wars: The Old Republic going free-to-play, introducing Cartel Coins

As expected, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be going free-to-play later this year...

And as expected, there are tons of caveats. The F2P option will grant access to the first 50 levels of play in BioWare's MMO, with restrictions on access to new content and "advanced player features."

"Players want flexibility and choice. The subscription-only model presented a major barrier for a lot of people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe," BioWare Austin's Matthew Bromberg said in a press release. The game's lackluster performance has already led to downsizing at The Old Republic team.

Of course, while the game may be "free-to-play" later this year, it won't actually be free. A copy of the game must still be purchased. It will drop to $14.99 in August, which includes one month access to a paid subscription.

Paid subscribers will get access to new higher-level game content beyond the current level 50 cap, including new space combat missions. In addition, subscribers will also get ongoing monthly grants of "Cartel Coins," a new virtual currency that unlocks in-game items, such as customizable gear and "convenience features." Presumably, these Cartel Coins can also be purchased by free players.

Additional rewards will be distributed to current and former players. Current subscribers will quality for "special benefits," and receive additional Cartel Coins and in-game items. Lapsed players that reactive will also receive special benefits. For example, according to the official site, subscribers will get 150 Cartel Coins for every month paid for since launch.