Investors quickly began to lose their confidence in EA, as their release of Battlefield 3 failed to make any notable impact on the number of copies sold by Activision's Call of Duty Franchise. EA also remained tight-lipped on the number of paying subscribers for Star Wars: The Old Republic; a lack of news led to a worrying suspicion that the actual number of paying subscribers was far less than that of the market's expectations. This naturally led to many fans and potential subscribers pondering as to how long the game would manage to survive.
A mere 11 months after its release, and after much speculation, EA announced that the game would become 'Free to Play'. This was a tactic that, at the time, was often considered a final attempt to rejuvenate an already dwindling population, as well as a way to squeeze funds from non-paying customers by selling virtual items for cash. This model often marked the beginning of the end for an MMO. However, on the 21st of March 2013, BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman revealed to investors that since going 'Free to Play', the number of active players for Star Wars: The Old Republic had risen to almost 4 million. By January 2013, the game's subscription model was the leading contributor to a $150 million (of subscriptions) windfall for EA.
With the MMO now being considered a 'hit 'and with the release of Star Wars Episode VII in 2015, I can't help but feel that an expansion of considerable quality will be on the horizon. The game is almost in profit by the end of this financial year and Bioware has hinted that they are considering future expansions including a more developed space game. However, at present players are reduced to regular, free game updates including the latest patch: '2.4' The Dread War.
Bioware has made a concerted effort to provide new and engaging content for players who have reached the maximum level attainable. 2.4 is perhaps the largest patch to date, and predominantly brings new end-game content including: a new planet to explore, daily level 55 missions, 2 new Operations, 3 new pvp maps and a wealth of new in-game items.
As a whole, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a far better game than what it was at launch. As outlined above, this extends much further than Bioware fixing bugs or loopholes, but rather providing new content to occupy its ever swelling population - a community that I suspect I will continue to be a part of for many years to come.
I recently created my 6th character, who is a Jedi Knight. Just as it is with all missions and classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic, Bioware has managed to produce a storyline for this character that encompasses the very essence of Star Wars and what makes a Jedi Knight so special.
All interactions and quests with NPCs (non player characters) are voiced by professional actors, a detail which helps to draw the player into the storyline. My Jedi Knight has already had to make some fun yet difficult decisions which will have an overall effect on his progression towards the light or dark side of the force, as well as the direction of his main storyline. Furthermore, each decision made has an impact on his bond with his companions and should he continue to slide towards the dark side, his appearance will begin to change...
Companions are, in essence, complex pets that aid the player in combat,collect resources or craft equipment. They can be equipped and customised to suit the player's needs and each companion has unique yet effective combat abilities. From an early point in the game, Companions become in integral part of helping the player to progress from one level to the next. Each companion has their own personality and level of friendship with the player. This friendship can be strengthened or weakened, depending on the decisions made by the player. Moreover, Companions will interact during conversations with quest givers or with the player during missions. Each Companion also comes with their own intricate back-story that they will gradually divulge as they become closer with the player. Some back-stories lead to new, progressional storylines that span a number of quests on a variety of different planets.
In truth, Companions are such an important and detailed part of Star Wars: The Old Republic, that to do my description of them justice would require an article in itself. However, suffice to say that Star Wars: The Old Republic is a very special game that has been expertly weaved together to create an online experience unlike any other.
Bioware's monumental massive multiplayer online game allows players to progress right up to end-game content with multiple characters for free. There has never been a better time than now to play the game and, as shown above, it is a community that will be around for many, many years to come.