Update: The free-to-play model will launch in November, EA announced during an earnings call.
Also revealed was that subscribers have dropped down to below one million.
Original story: Star Wars: The Old Republic is adding a new free-to-play option this autumn, publisher EA and Bioware have announced.
The new option will allow players to take on each of the eight character classes up to level 50. Currently it's free-to-play only until level 15.
There will be some restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features, though some of the restrictions will be unlockable via a new system of virtual currency called Cartel Coins. These can be used towards purchasing valuable items, customisable gear and convenience features.
The alternative is a subscription model catered towards players who want unrestricted access. Redeemable through an ongoing auto-payment system or through purchasing Game Time Cards, this premium service gives players access to all the game's content, just as it is now. Subscribed players will also receive a monthly payout of Cartel Coins to boot.
To prepare players for the upcoming model change, The Old Republic will go on sale for $14.99 in August and include a free one month subscription.
Additionally, current players will receive a smattering of rewards based on how long they've been playing leading up to launch. For every month played prior to today, they'll receive 150 Cartel Coins, while each month played between 1st August and the free-to-play launch garners another 200-250 Cartel Coins based on whether they're a subscriber or not.
GM of BioWare Austin Matthew Bromberg explained the restructuring. "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."
Executive producer Jeff Hickman added, "We believe we are in a position to help improve the service even more, not only by continuing to add new content, but also by expanding the game to many more Star Wars fans, increasing the populations on worlds and the vibrancy of the community."