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Old Republic exec uncertain of free-to-play success

Matt Bromberg unsure if switch to free-to-play will generate more revenue and users

The new general manager of Bioware Austin says he is unsure whether Star Wars: The Old Republic's upcoming switch to a free-to-play model will be a notable success.

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In an interview with CVG, Matt Bromberg was asked if he thought the transition from subscription to a hybrid subscription-and-freemium model would generate greater revenue.

"I don't know," he replied. "My primary intention is to make as many people play this beautiful game that we've made.

"It just so happens that the business will naturally grow as more people come to play the game, but we're not trying to squeeze every single penny out of it."

Bromberg added: "There are lots of Star Wars fans out there, but really I don't know what to expect. A lot of other games that have moved from subscription to hybrid haven't lost as many customers as you might think, in fact a lot of them have gained subscribers."

He also confirmed that there is an internal subscriber target but said he was "not sure" if it would be met. "You have to plan for this but you can never be sure. We do think the numbers will grow steadily but we're not looking for some enormous surge on day one."

The Old Republic launched in December 2012 and by February peaked at 1.7 million active users. Today it is thought to carry less than one million.

In July, a free Old Republic trial up to level 15 was implemented. By the end of the month, however, it was announced that the free-to-play segment of the game will be expanded to cover all 50 levels.

But players will still be encouraged to subscribe, with premium features available to those who pay a monthly fee. The language of Bromberg's answers suggest he's taking a philosophical outlook - in that he cannot be sure of anything - as opposed to perceiving a lack of potential in the game.

The full interview with Bromberg can be found here.

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