It’s perfectly normal for ambitious MMO projects to experience growing pains post-launch. Even the largest and most successful titles out there go through an awkward stage early on. The titles that overcome the many challenges posed by those first critical months typically come out the other side that much stronger, and eventually find their footing to continue growing, and hopefully, prospering.

WildStar has certainly experienced some of these growing pains over the course of the past year, but within the past six months has really started to come into its own. For all of Carbine Studios’ meticulous and ambitious planning prior to launch, it really does take some time in the live environment before you can get a proper feel for what kind of game your active player base is really most interested in consuming.

A lesson far too many MMO studios have failed to learn over the years is how critical it can be to listen to the community, and take its feedback to heart. You may not be able to please everyone all the time, but once you begin pairing user data with the vocalizations of your player base, clarity begins to emerge from the post-launch fog.

This is a lesson that Carbine has truly taken to heart, and has spent much of 2015 focusing on. Which is to say, listening to player feedback isn’t just a marketing department pacifier, it has become a mode of existence. In this exact same spirit, it comes as no surprise that when we recently learned that Carbine had aims of adding in a free-to-play option for WildStar this fall, player feedback will be critical to insuring that it is a transition that makes the most sense for the game. In terms of what this transition entails more specifically, Carbine offered up the following explanation:

Following the transition this fall, all players will be able to level to 50, acquire all Amps and abilities, and participate in all dungeons, raids, adventures, shiphands, and PvP. The entirety of the game will be open for players to explore for free.    

Players may also purchase an optional membership for a monthly fee that will provide various convenience bonuses and enhancements to XP, crafting, currency, item drops and reputation. Members will gain additional character, costume, bank, supply, and decor items.  

For the in-game store, NCoin will enable players to buy convenience or cosmetic items. In almost every case, items that are available for purchase via NCoin will have equivalent items available for players that want to invest time rather than money. One thing that will not be available for purchase is power – progression will continue to require both skill and effort. 

As has historically been the case with business model conversions, the press releases go out and all of the decisions surrounding its implementation have been predetermined by groups of non-players in closed board room meetings. All players can really do is react to the news, and hope for the best. Sometimes the transition goes smoothly and everyone breathes a giant sigh of relief, but that hasn’t always been the case.

Rather than rush headlong into something that might not provide the best experience for existing – and hopefully new – players, Carbine will be rolling things out this summer on the WildStar test servers. While not entirely unprecedented, this is still a bold move that goes a long way towards Carbine’s claims that player feedback truly does matter when it comes to the future of the game.

In the current era of online gaming, there are a lot of mixed signals when it comes to consumer trends and what a gamer considers a proper price point for digital goods and services. One gamer might scoff at the notion of paying a recurring subscription fee – regardless of how nominal it may be – while the next has no issues whatsoever paying hundreds of dollars in a single month for cosmetic upgrades, character unlocks, or even consumables like XP boosts or premium ammo.

The waters only grow muddier when you consider how many major software products have turned to recurring subscriptions in favor of once-off licensing fees. Microsoft Office, Adobe’s Creative Cloud, and even music production companies like Cakewalk have converted into subscription-based services.

For a game like WildStar, the decision to make subscriptions and option for players really boils down to finding ways of removing barriers for entry. Fellow NCSOFT studio ArenaNet has found great success by offering ongoing service to Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 for free once the initial box purchase has been made. If you dial the MMO clock back a bit, many folks would have called you crazy if you told them that a triple-A MMO could be sustainable based primarily on the sales of non-combat costumes, weapon skins, mini-pets, and consumables.

Times have certainly changed, and WildStar will no doubt benefit from the upcoming transition. While no firm dates have been announced, certain key building blocks for how paid DLC (largely cosmetic items, pets, and consumables) could factor into the game in the future. Specifics also have been revealed in terms of exactly what type of items players will find for sale in WildStar, but this is an area Carbine will no doubt be discussing in more detail as things progress. For now, the studio has this to say of how the in-game store will work:

For the in-game store, NCoin will enable players to buy convenience or cosmetic items. In almost every case, items that are available for purchase via NCoin will have equivalent items available for players that want to invest time rather than money. One thing that will not be available for purchase is power – progression will continue to require both skill and effort. 

Having clocked a hefty amount of time in WildStar dating back to the earlier beta phases (think in the hundreds, collectively) the team at Ten Ton Hammer will be following the transition with much interest. The best thing for the game right now would be an influx of new players, so hopefully the transition is a smooth one. 


To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our WildStar Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Sardu 1
Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.

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