The game, which cost more than $150 million to create, was the most expensive video game that EA had ever produced and certainly among the costliest games of all time.
In an interview last fall prior to the game's release in December, EA Vice President Greg Zeschuk said the game's huge cost could only be recouped through a premium subscription model. Monday's news is an admission that in order to attract new players against stiff online competition, much of it in the forms of games that cost nothing to play, "The Old Republic" had no choice but to offer an introductory experience at no cost.
The announcement follows similar decisions made by other developers of the so-called massively multiplayer online game genre, or MMO, which lets millions of gamers play the game together.
Even "World of Warcraft," the reigning king of paid MMO games with more than 10 million players, was forced to crack open its first 20 levels to free players last June to help reverse a precipitous decline in paying customers.