Subscription numbers for BioWare's Star Wars MMO "not good enough", says EA, as The Old Republic goes free-to-play.
Subscriber numbers for Star Wars: The Old Republic have "slipped below 1 million", EA has confirmed.
The figure was revealed alongside the announcement that EA would be introducing a free-to-play option to the MMO in November, granting players access to each of the eight Star Wars character classes without the need for a premium subscription.
The new free-to-play option will let players play up to level 50, but includes restrictions on access to new content and advanced features.
EA says that some of these restrictions can be "unlocked" with Cartel Coins, a new virtual currency that will be introduced in the autumn.
Those wishing to continue paying for an ongoing subscription can do so, however. They'll receive ongoing monthly grants of Cartel Coins to purchase "customizable gear and convenience features" for their troubles.
The fall in subscriber numbers should come as a concern to EA, however. Active subscriptions for The Old Republic were said to be at 1.7m just five months ago.
Speaking on the announcement of the free-to-play option, Matthew Bromberg, GM of BioWare Austin, said: "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."
EA Labels president Frank Gibeau added:
"Although [Star Wars: The Old Republic] launched well, subscriptions have been on a declining trajectory and have now slipped below one million.
"Last year we announced that the breakeven point was roughly 500,000 subscribers. And while we are well above that today, that's not good enough."
"The message from players exiting the game is clear – 40 percent say they were turned off by the monthly subscription. And many indicated they would come back if we offered a free-to-play model. Our plan now is to pivot and provide a two-tiered pricing plan which will make the game more accessible and grow the audience."
But as subscriptions continue to fall, EA CEO John Riccitiello said that "the disappointing results of Star Wars: The Old Republic were largely offset by a powerful performance from Battlefield 3 Premium service".
It was announced earlier today that over 1.3m users had signed up to the shooter service.