WildStar Survives Another Day by Going Free to Play

Back in January one of my least controversial new year predictions was probably this:

WildStar will go free to play.  NCsoft has a deal for the China market, so they can’t shut the thing down just yet.  But to get to China I am going to bet they have to go F2P.  And if you’re going to do the work for China, you might as well apply it in the west as well.

The issue seemed in doubt when the NCsoft Q1 2015 financials were released and amongst the data it was revealed that WildStar was officially doing worse than City of Heroes was before it was shut down.  But Carbine appears to have dodged that bullet for the time being (though they were very touchy about the business model subject for a while) as they announced today that WildStar would be going free to play this autumn… provided it doesn’t tank even further… a possibility when you tell be subscriptions will be optional in a few months… and simply get shut down.

Wildstar_logoFor me the biggest surprise was that Elder Scrolls Online went for the free to play option first, given the dev team attitude about monetizing things in-game.  But then they had the big console release coming up and subscriptions are even more out of favor on that front.

But when it comes to WildStar, I have never really been a fan of the game.  I was skeptical of a team that left Blizzard in 2005 because they felt World of Warcraft was doing it wrong even as it was becoming a popular sensation.  I was dubious that their CREDD plan … which allowed Carbine to claim that they were offering up a “hybrid” model since you could play for free if you bought CREDD with in-game currency… would make an iota of difference, or that there was any evidence that WildStar could build up an economy that would support a PLEX-like scheme.  And I was somewhat exasperated at their near tragic misuse of the Bartle types for their path system.  Also, the graphic style did nothing at all the encourage me to play.

So, yeah, I wasn’t really all that interested when it was announced, it clearly wasn’t my thing when it launched, and going free is unlikely to change my mind.  There are simply too many other things I would rather play ahead of WildStar on my list.

But for those who enjoy the game, at least it will be around a while longer.  As I have noted, the conversion from subscription to free to play usually brings about a happy time, a resurgence of interest, and the joy of populated servers… at least until that dies down and the whole thing descends into the usual in-your-face cash shop focused lockbox monetizaion hell that is the standard for MMO F2P games these days.  A mixed blessing indeed.

The question, of course, will be just how free is “free” really going to be.  Well, there is a FAQ posted, because there is always a FAQ somewhere with these things.  And Carbine does seem to be serious on the free thing, emphasizing it throughout the FAQ, summing up with this paragraph:

We place no restrictions on any of the game’s content. Every zone, every dungeon, every raid, every battleground… they’re all available. All players will be able to create characters of every race, class, and path while choosing any tradeskills they like. Characters can achieve level 50 and path level 30, just as they can under the current system.

The nudge to get people to subscribe… which is being called a Signature player or some such… is the usual set of perks and restrictions on various aspects of the games.  The list from the FAQ is available after the cut because it is a bit long to stick in the middle of the post.  Saved for posterity, because we know how these things can change.

So another bow to the inevitable in an MMO market crowded with competitors.  Moment noted.



11 thoughts on “WildStar Survives Another Day by Going Free to Play

  1. bhagpuss

    Those are unimpressive “perks”. What is it with developers that they see selling content as a bad thing but selling ways to rush past said content as fast as possible as a good thing? And they all do it – every MMO offers bonus xp as a perk or a reward or just an outright purchase option. How about making content that’s so compelling players want to keep on doing it as long as possible instead of getting through it as fast as possible? Just a thought.

    Anyway, I quite liked Wildstar so I will be dabbling when it goes F2P. Probably not much more than dabbling though.


  2. Stephanie “Stargrace” Morrow

    “But Carbine appears to have dodged that bullet for the time being (though they were very touchy about the business model subject for a while” – what does reddit have to do with Carbine? It’s not run by them at all and has their own moderators / rules that are not affiliated.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Stargrace – I remain unconvinced about the separation between Reddit, moderators there, and the companies being covered. At best Carbine tacitly approved of this, or were they allowing business model discussions in their own forums? But I am a known skeptic and enjoy entertaining conspiracy theories now and again.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Random Poster


    Because thw tyoes who are likely to pay are the same ones who want to rush through with XP/Money and the like I owuld guess. The main driving force behind the f2p popularity in the areas it started in (mobile)seems to be impatience.So its carried over to larger games.


  5. Pike

    I don’t play many MMOs at all, so I was never really interested in WildStar, and this does little to change my interest – especially if it’s still doing the “Hardcore Vanilla WoW” model of attunements/raids and so forth. That stuff was fun back ten years ago when I was a college kid, but these days I’ll stick with WoW because it went “casual” the same time I did.

    That said I am happy for WildStar fans and hope that this improves their gaming experience.


  6. Pingback: #Wildstar – Free for All | Leo's Life

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