Star Wars: The Old Republic lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi has spoken to GamesTM about the level of competition in the MMO market. He mentions that the quality of the competition is more important than the free-to-play pricing model, but suggests that Bioware are willing to consider other pricing options.
Update: GamesTM's story is no longer online, but EA boss Frank Gibeau told Gamesindustry.biz that "ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It's all a matter of timing and thinking things through."
Original story follows.
“The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” Lusinchi said. “Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations. So we are looking at free-to-play but I can't tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on."
Bioware Austin have recently adapted to falling subscriber numbers by reducing the number of staff at their Austin studio last month. Lusinchi told us that “the MMO is the toughest part of the game industry without a doubt."
He added that Austin "have a very large development team still, definitely one of the biggest in the industry," and mentioned that the team "have a very complete and detailed plan for the rest of the year.
"The players don't really care about all that, behind closed curtains, but they want what they're paying for which is a service with new content, new systems, that's what they're asking for and we listen to them. That's what we mean to deliver.”
The next update, 1.3, doesn't contain any especially thrilling new features, but will introduce some much-requested additions like a looking for group tool, server transfer support, adaptive gear and class balance changes . The updates teased at E3 were much more promising, with mention of a new planet, a new species and a level cap boost.