Pachter: The Old Republic could net 50m players with free-to-play switch

Yesterday, Electronic Arts surprised absolutely no one by announcing that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be going free-to-play later this year. Wedbush Securities thinks that this is a great idea, and is encouraging investors to buy up stock in EA while they can still get in at a decent price. GamesIndustry International reports that EA's stock currently sits at $11.68 per share, but Wedbush gives the company a twelve-month target of $29.

That's a pretty huge gain, and it isn't hard to see why Wedbush thinks EA's stock will skyrocket. Yesterday's financial report was more or less in line with the company's expectations, so it really wasn't anything to get excited about. However, The Old Republic's upcoming transition to free-to-play is something to get excited about, considering that making the switch has worked wonders for other MMOs in the past, such as Lord of the Rings Online.

Speaking about The Old Republic's transition specifically, Michael Pachter predicts that the change to free-to-play will bring BioWare's game "10 million MAUs indefinitely, with upside to perhaps 50 million." 10 million monthly users certainly isn't anything to scoff at, but 50 million players? Apparently Pachter thinks that the Star Wars name will be able to pull players in by the boatload. That could very well happen, but The Old Republic definitely has a long way to before it can boast 50 million players.

Still, stranger things have happened before. Ultimately, Pachter and Wedbush say that the switch to free-to-play will be good for Electronic Arts and BioWare, stating that the large margins BioWare will be making on Cartel Coin sales to the game's increased user base will bring in more money than charging $60 for the game and then hitting players up for a subscription fee every month. We'll see if the switch was a good decision soon enough, as Star Wars: The Old Republic is set to go free-to-play this fall.