The Old Republic’s free to play option, launched back in October in response to black slope-sliding subscriptions, has reportedly paid off.
The news comes as BioWare push out The Old Republic 1.7, which introduces that Reputation system and an Ilum event: the first in the dev team’s attempt to build a newly “dynamic, ever changing universe”.
More on all of that beyond the jump.
SWTOR lead designer Damion Schubert announced the free to play option’s success rather surreptitiously at the conclusion of a patch-related blog post.
“Launching Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Free-to-Play option in October has proven to be successful and we’d like to thank not only our amazing development team, but also our fans and the community for their continuing support and dedication,” he said.
“The fans are what make this all worthwhile. Thank you for that.”
What isn’t clear is whether it’s the Cartel Market that’s proven a success, or the drive to nudge free players into subscriptions. Despite a punitive model that’s all but made free players second-class citizens, our money’s on the former.
And then there’s 1.7, the Return of the Gree update released earlier this week. With six tentacles, a metre in height and a sprawling brain sac that hangs in uncanny suspension behind your skull, you might think you’d done enough to earn a name with at least a couple of apostrophes in it. Not so the Gree, seemingly named by Dreamworks or a baby.
Nonetheless, their arrival in BioWare’s Old Republic universe is something of an event, or rather an Event - a repeatable archeological quest with potential rewards including some of the “most unique” gear, weapons and minipets the game has yet seen. What’s more, it signals a shift in design philosophy that could make the Old Republic a less static place to be.
The Gree are on Ilum hoping to crack open and explore a prehistoric ship, or at the very least send a beefy-looking stranger to do it for them. Intriguingly, their missions will often offer a choice - of a “safe” meander to completion, or a more direct route straight through PvP territory. It’s the latter that will offer the more unusual and exciting rewards, with more expected in the future.
“The introduction of the Gree event also introduces our new event philosophy,” writes lead designer Damion Schubert. “One of recurrence. All events we run will be designed with the possibility that they may be reactivated again, and, while the Gree’s time on Ilum will be limited, we are already making plans for them to revisit multiple times over the course of this year alone.
“As we add additional events with this philosophy, The Old Republic will feel like a dynamic, ever changing universe for players to explore.”
A compelling, decaying leaf from Guild Wars’ book, then, which will be fascinating to watch unfold alongside ArenaNet’s GW2 Flame and Frost update plans.
New localised reputations, meanwhile, will see players rewarded for completing certain faction-based tasks with points shared between all of their Legacy characters. Here’s the SWTOR galactic reputation system explained.
Will you be heading to Ilum to see BioWare’s new event philosophy unfold? Or standing arms-folded to judge from afar?