Do you like Star Wars? Of course you do, who doesn't (opening a whole can on worms on that one). Then do you like free stuff? Again, easy answer on that one. In that case then you should be happy to hear that BioWare and EA have released the Free-to-Play version of Star Wars: The Old Republic today! So if you never played it when it came out last year, or want to visit some old friends now is your time. Long time meat bag fans of the BioWare Star Wars games will also be glad that, as of today, you will be able to get the deadly HK-51 Assassin Droid. This is in addtion to a new area, the prison world of Belsavis along with a the new Operation: Explosive Conflict on Denova (complete with nightmare mode). So prime that blaster and polish your lightsaber crystals (you think OCD Jedi/Sith do that?) and enjoy the game.
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.
Wow, to think that 6 years ago a 10 day trial of a 60 day MMO was all it took to get people's opinions. But now in a world of free-to-play MMOs a company that expects your money every month has to work harder to get your loyalty. To do this World of Warcraft has extended the old 10 or 14 day free trial to an unlimited trial that allows you to get to level 20 without dropping a dime in their pockets. This means that you can get a mount while not paying for the game as well as experience a dungeon. Heck if you are persistent you can even explore the WHOLE WORLD (minus Northrend)!
In addition to this people that have been with WoW for a long time (they defined it as Veteran Players) have been given a free copy of Vanilla WoW to give out. Will this be enough to stay the slow disintegration of their player base, or are they still screwed after 7+ years of gaming? Only time will tell, unless the Bronze Dragonflight speaks up.