Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) has had an interesting first year all be it a somewhat depressing one. After a huge promotional push and launching to excited fans last December, BioWare reported that more than one million players had joined the game in the first few days alone. By early February, the numbers were as high as 1.7 million subscribers and over 2 million copies sold. But a number of issues plagued SWTOR such as a poorly implemented open world PvP system on Ilum that led to some nasty player experiences, bugs that could let you dance to avoid damage, warzones that forced you to play random maps, often ending in that unholy game of Huttball (seriously, I would rather chew glass and drink kerosene than ever play another game of Huttball again), and other things that seemed to act as a pebble rolling down a hillside of subscriptions and causing a massive avalanche of unsubs.
This year was enough to make any BioWare employee or fan drink.
Earlier this year BioWare revealed that subscription numbers had dropped below the one million mark, the studio underwent layoffs and several key personnel departed the studio, including studio founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. As part of the change to revitalize the game and bring back former and new players, SWTOR announced that it would be going free-to-play this year, and today that promise comes to fruition with the 1.5 update and renewed hope for the future of The Old Republic despite the depressing recap.
Update 1.5: HK-51 Activated is now available on live servers, introducing the new free-to-play option and a host of new content. Playable today courtesy of the update is the new Belsavis location of Section X, the Nightmare Mode Explosive Conflict operation, the HK-51 companion and the launch of the Cartel Marketplace, SWTOR's new microtransaction shop.
What do you think about SWTOR's jump to free-to-play? Will you return to the game or try it for the first time? If so, make sure to check out our SWTOR Free-to-Play Checklist and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
Source: SWTOR Launchs 1.5 & Free-to-Play