Yes, there has been beta and open beta and a headstart for those who pre-purchased the game, but all that is in the past now. Today is the official launch day for WildStar. Today the game goes live for everybody and anybody can wander in off the street, buy a copy, and start playing.
Well, you can start playing is you can get into the game. I thought I saw somebody mention a server queue time estimate of 3 days over the weekend.
But, if you’re going to have a problem, being too popular is one to have. And the team at Carbine is trying to do what they can, even offering free realm transfers.
Granted, your options are from specific, high population realms to specific low population realms, but at least you have an option. How often are realm transfers even a thing this early in a game’s lifecycle? Sure, it was understandable back when EverQuest launched, but server transfers tend to be a post-launch item for most games, coming along when things start to go south.
Of course, the team at Carbine has had a lot of time to consider what ought to be in a game at launch, the founders having been made up of 17 former Blizzard employees who left the company back in 2005 to make their own MMO. Fortunately… or maybe unfortunately from some points of view… they didn’t lock themselves away to develop their game, but paid attention to what has come to pass in the industry. So along with the Blizzard polish, they have some other twists, like the combat system and the paths mechanic (which I think represents a misunderstanding of what Bartle meant by his types, but whatever) as well as some older ideas like their PLEX-like CREDD and the whole now very retro monthly subscription fee thing.
The question now is, will it work?
Lots of people seem happy with the launch, aside from the whole “help, I’m stuck in a queue!” issue. Blog posts I have seen so far trend towards very favorable… but that tends to be the case for most launches, unless something is horribly wrong.
Even my pal Gaff, who has worn out his most recent return to WoW, is quite enthusiastic on the subject. Some actual IMs from him:
wildstar is worth the money
already, in my experience of 3 hours or so, a seriously cool mmo
very polished, huge, great graphics, smooth
combat system awesome, more like diablo with just a few buttons
lots of depth
be ready for stupid queues right now though
I do have to take that with a grain of salt though. He does get enthusiastic about games early on. There is a history of him finding a new game, telling me all about it and at just the point where I plunk down the money and log in, he stops playing.
So his enthusiasm hasn’t lured me yet. I am content with what I am playing now and don’t feel the need to drop $60 on a box to start up another $15 a month subscription. As Forbes put it, that is asking for too much commitment, at least for now.
We shall see how things look a few months down the road when things have settled down and the first blush enthusiasm has been dampened by the realities of the game. Will WildStar be able to hold on to its initial subscription base and maybe even grow over time? Or are we past that even being a possibility these days? Is holding on to enough subscribers to pay for the transition to free to play the only thing we can hope for in the long run of MMOs now? Is the first wave of players more like the last round of financing?
[For those scoring my F2P attitudes at home, this post counts as a tie, as I both eschew the idea of paying $75 up front to play the game AND I complain about the idea of it going F2P.]