Star Wars The Old Republic will be free-to-play for anyone up to level 15 starting in July, Electronic Arts partner BioWare announced today at EA’s E3 press conference.
although SW:TOR players have put 520 million hours into the six-month-old MMORPG, there are grumbles about declining subscriber numbers turning the game into a “ghost town”. Letting players play for free for the first few hours keeps games fun World of Warcraft relevant years after their release, and the move could help in the same way SW:TOR stay alive.
“There’s never been a better time to join us,” said Ray Muzyka, CEO of Bioware. “In July, everyone can play the game up to level 15 for free.” Muzyka did not provide any other details about the offer.
The free-to-play announcement was one of many at EA’s press conference. FIFA 13, dead space 3and new versions of SimCity, madden footballAnd Need for speed were demonstrated while an agreement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to produce fighting games and a premium service Battlefield 3 players were revealed.
FIFA 13 will feature a new architecture for animation, physics and artificial intelligence to make the game more realistic, with more advanced dribbling and strategic moves. Much of the gameplay is inspired by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, whose moves on the pitch are as acrobatic as those of any video game player. Messi will be on the cover of the new game.
EA is also powering FIFA’s social network, the EA Sports Football Club, with apps for iOS and Android. The service offers live auctions and bonuses for returning players (including the right to carry over stats from the previous season).
The next version of Madden will be more RPG-like than players may be used to, with experience points to level up players and a more advanced career mode. madden 13 lets you manage your team on your PC, tablet or smartphone, sync to Twitter and post achievements to Facebook, while a “Virtual Twitter Feed” shows analyst reactions to your in-game achievements and failures. Tech upgrades will of course make the game more realistic, in part by allowing players to regain their balance and fight a few more yards after being tackled. The general trend is toward less predetermined outcomes – the game’s Infinity Engine takes into account a player’s mass, speed, momentum, and size to determine how collisions play out.
Here are some more highlights from EA:
- In addition to being free to play up to level 15, SW:TOR gets a brand new planet called Makeb, an increased level cap and new content called “Operation: Terror from Beyond”.
- SimCity coming to Facebook in a few weeks, while a new version for PC is planned for February 2013. The two games bring SimCity to the multiplayer world, where choices players make affect their own cities as well as those that have been destroyed by friends and opponents. built.
- EA and the owner of UFC have entered into a multi-year agreement to release multiple products and give EA exclusive rights to develop UFC video games. No gameplay footage was shown and no release dates were revealed.
- dead space 3 will be available in February 2013 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. The shooter will “deliver action and horror on a scale that far surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Visceral Games GM Steve Papoutsis promised. Both single-player and co-op play are offered.
- A new version of Need for speed: most wanted will launch on October 30 as an open-world racing game where players compete to become the “most wanted” among their friends. Gameplay footage showed something Grand Theft Auto-like action, complete with cars trying to outsmart the cops. The game will be available on PS3, Xbox 360, PS Vita, PC, iOS and Android.