WildStar Goes Free to Play

Two years ago I was wondering if The Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar were throwing themselves under the bus by declaring for a monthly subscription model in an era when only a select few games seem able to hold enough customers to make that model work for their vision.


Back then the team doing TESO said that a subscription model was essential to deliver the experience they wanted while the WildStar team felt they could offer a PLEX-like option and declare themselves free to play already.

The subscription business model champions of 2013 have come around to free to play in 2015.

TESO went first, going free back in January, while WildStar, after a precipitous drop in revenue, reflected in the NCsoft quarterly results… I believe somebody said that WildStar might end up bringing in less revenue that City of Heroes when NCsoft shut that down… announced that they were going free to play back in May.  This staved off closure by the trigger happy team at NCsoft for the time being.

And today is the day.  WildStar is now officially free to play, another such title in a veritable forest of free to play MMORPGs.  I cannot name a single factor that would set it out from the crowd of other options.  We shall see if free is sufficient inducement for players to keep the game going.

The WildStar site has been updated and there is a FAQ spelling out what free to play means for the game.  As with the game itself, nothing in the FAQ stands out as new and different enough to separate it from the pack.

8 thoughts on “WildStar Goes Free to Play

  1. pkudude99

    That was pretty much my impression during the couple of hours of open beta I played of it. Seemed decent enough, but nothing made me want to take time away from other games I was playing to play it instead.

    I bought a box copy a month ago on their fire sale price of $10 so that I have 12 character slots available under the F2P scheme. And I’ve even created 12 characters — 6 classes, 2 factions. Works out well. But in my latest post about Wildstar, I yet again said “nothing about this game screams ‘play me.'” In the 1st couple of levels, only the Spellslinger class really is fun to me, and even then it’s nothing new/different so… I dunno. Hype’s everyhwere, but I didn’t feel it at initial launch and I’m still not feeling it now.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @pkudude99 – I haven’t even gone as far as you. Nothing I have read about the game, including blog posts from some of its most enthusiastic supporters, has made me say to myself, “Yeah, I need to go play that!” My primary interest in the game has been to see if it could make it as a subscription game, and we got the final answer to that one today.

    Given that, this is likely my next-to-last post about WildStar, unless they do something really new and different. The last post will be, of course, the one when NCsoft inevitably shuts the game down. Actually, that might be two posts, when they announce the game is going to be shut down and when it actually happens. I have no doubt it will happen, it is just a question of how long the ride will last.


  3. bhagpuss

    I’m patching it up now – it’s taking forever. I’d say that the things it has going for it are

    a) It’s well-written in good English by native English-speakers. That puts it way ahead of about 90% of the F2P options I’ve tried.

    b) It has a significantly different setting to even more than 90% of MMOs. The only other Space Western I can think of offhand is DinoStorm. Anyone know any more?

    c) It’s feature-complete and as bug-free as MMOs ever get. It’s a full, professional experience for no money. There are a lot of MMOs that can’t meet all, or even any, of those criteria.

    In terms of gameplay, though, it is indeed indistinguishable from many, many other MMOs. However, in a period when the majority of new MMOs seem to use some kind of modified “Action” interface, a new(ish), AAA-standard MMO that uses traditional hotbars is not to be sniffed at. I’m glad for anything we get along those lines these days.


  4. Fenjay

    I had a lot of hope for Wildstar. They were (and remain) very enthusiastic and stylish in their art and marketing. I didn’t dislike the gameplay when I played it, but it didn’t have a ton to differentiate itself from WoW, at least to the point at which I played (before housing, etc).

    There was a time when I was at least neutral to positive on any new entrant in the MMO space, because I wanted it to grow. Now I wonder if too many entrants are diluting the field, especially with one giant sponge sucking up ~5 million of the available players. This gets complicated when you consider the percentages of players in Asia and not-Asia, which last I heard is slanted heavily to Asia, but the billing model is different there so it’s not strictly an apples comparison.

    Anyway, I hope when the smoke clears, there are a healthy number of MMOs but not too many so as to make most of them fail due to players being spread too thin. And I hope that Wildstar is one of them.


  5. zaphod6502

    Wildstar was an ok MMO. It had a number of distinguishing features to its credit including:
    – Advanced graphics engine
    – Interesting combat system
    – Detailed advancement and collection systems
    – Detailed and useful housing system

    If you didn’t like the cartoon style graphics and humor then it definitely isn’t for you. Where the game was let down badly was its complete indifference to the casual MMO gamer. All the mid to endgame systems were solely targeted at hardcore raid MMO players. It had a raid attunement system that made The Burning Crusades classic attunements look like childs play.

    Large slabs of content was completely locked out to those who could not meet the convoluted attunement requirements. A side effect of this is that it made the Wildstar community completely toxic as it devolved into the haves and havenots. The end result was 90% of the player population left and the remaining 10% struggled to find raiders to play with.


  6. carson63000

    I checked it out an in open beta weekend and was bored long before lunchtime on Saturday. Certainly I couldn’t be less interested in downloading it again now that it’s free.

    But Bhagpuss has a point – a F2P game which features coherent English written by someone who is actually fluent in the language DOES put it ahead of 90% of the F2P competition.


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