EA has tried their hardest to keep Star Wars: The Old Republic profitable. They have culled servers and moved users around to increase populations. They have given free weekends to get people in the game. They have kept the game moving forward with patches and game play enhancements such as their legacy system, but it has not been enough. Starting this fall SWTOR will have a free-to-play option to it. The free players will be able to start a character and get all the way to level 50 (level cap) without dropping a dime. Now this does not mean to say that the subscriptions will not have a value. Subscribers will have unlimited access to game features such as character creation, warzones, flashpoints, space missions, travel locations, and the auction house that are free players only have limited access to. Subscribers also will have priority access to logging on.
They are also adding a new item call Cartel Coins. These can be used to purchase customization and convience items. Current subscribers will get coins to start with and more can be purchased in varios price packs. This is basically their big money making plan to get some cash from these free players. It will interesting to see how this goes for EA and SWTOR. It worked for Star Trek Online so it may work for SWTOR. More information on this can found at the their FAQ located at http://www.swtor.com/support/helpcenter/6449.
Related: Announcing a Free-to-Play Option