EA has admitted that Star Wars: The Old Republic subscription numbers have fallen below one million for the first time since its release in December 2011. In just seven months the troubled MMO has shed over 700,000 paying subscribers, prompting the publisher to lay off scores of BioWare Austin employees and move the game to a free-to-play model.
The continuing drop in subscriptions was confirmed during an update to EA investors. A specific subscriber number was not given, but EA representative stated that it was now below one million. Despite further claims that the game only needs 500,000 paying subscribers to break even, the title shows no signs of being able to hang on to the players it attracted with a high profile launch last year.
Back in May, EA reported numbers of around 1.3 million for the title. In December 2011 it was an estimated 1.7 million. The new free-to-play model appears to be a renewed effort to stabilise the player-base and attempt to raise additional revenue through ‘microtransactions’ (smaller payments for minor equipment or stat boosts).