Is F2P Saving Wildstar? [#Blaugust 17]

The much awaited Wildstar f2p-build is currently in beta as more and more players are either remembering to resub or acquire a copy before official f2p-launch. There are various veteran rewards and different goodies depending on whether you were continuously subscribed to the game, subscribed right before f2p or well, none of the above. There’s some more tricky fine-print as Bhagpuss points out in his post today and I need to thank him for the reminder. I’m about to resub myself before the whole f2p switch. I miss my housing plot in Wildstar and am very interested to see the additional items and bling yet to come out.

CaretakerDJ

All the while, existing Wildstar players are debating what f2p is going to do to their game. Depending on where you look, player attitudes towards the payment model change seem more or less dire: there’s those who believe that f2p was always in the books since day one (myself included), those who think it necessary to save Wildstar from bankruptcy and then another group who fear f2p will be the game’s downfall.

“I don’t care if f2p people come in. I just want the fucking game to be properly funded. I’m concerned with how much it costs to host the f2p players. I’m concerned that we are going to lose all of the subscribers we gained. Who many current players are going to opt out of the signature service? How many people who join for f2p are going to get the signature service? I think we might actually lose money. Then again they haven’t announced their cash shop. I’m not looking forward to getting nickel and dimed for vanity items I used to farm dungeons and content for.” [source]

I guess no matter how you feel about f2p as an MMO player, in lieu of verified numbers by developers it is impossible to predict what a payment model switch can or must achieve in the mid- and long term. LOTRO is one of the most well-known examples of f2p saving or at least buying an MMO more time. This is thanks to how well Turbine designed their different payment options too. From all I’ve read about Carbine’s approach, they may actually pull off a similar stunt – new players will first jump into f2p and opt in to signature service at some point. There seems to be a higher chance of that than legit, existing subbers from today downgrading to more restricted f2p service.

I guess we’ll see if f2p will “save Wildstar”. Am not exactly convinced how last resort we are speaking, anyway. Does Wildstar need desperate saving at this point or is it not much rather Carbine ditching a dated business model, the way they always intended? Whatever, huh.

15 comments

  1. I realize anecdotal evidence is worth nothing but…

    I’m tabbed out right from WildStar right now taking a short break after two hours of exploring. I’ve traveled from the starting zone in Everstar through Celestion and Whitevale and I’m now in Galeras. On the entire journey I’ve seen maybe 10-12 players. This is on the only EU (Mega)server in late afternoon/early evening during the school/college holidays. I have also seen two people speak in zone chat.

    Compare that with GW2 where, on an NA server in the middle of a weekday I would have seen literally hundreds of people in a two-hour stretch and seen scores of people talk in map chat. Even on an EQ2 NA server in EU hours I see and hear way more people than I’m seeing in Wildstar.

    I imagine by this time in the game’s life the huge majority of players are max level and of course WS has a lot of instanced content for them to be hiding in but it very definitely does feel like a bit of a wasteland at lower levels. A very beautiful one, though, and really top-class for exploring. I’ve taken so many screenshots!

    I would think F2P can’t come soon enough from Carbine’s point of view. It can hardly get worse and if they handle it well it could certainly get better.

    1. Agree it can’t get worse. I didn’t experience the game becoming deserted, I guess I left at the right moment. I think they made a mistake instancing the main cities, that’s a gripe I had from the start but it was usually better in the outdoor zones.

      Exploration was okay. The Nexus is just too overstylized and cluttered for my taste – not enough empty spaces to ever make it feel like a real world.

  2. At this point, I think it’s the right move. They seem to have thought a lot about their F2P approach, and so far, the feedback from my circle of WildStar friends is really positive.

    They have an amazing design team, and just like how MOBAs are monetizing on cosmetics, WildStar will most likely do the same with costumes, mounts, and housing items. They also did something smart, where players can buy extra costume slots, character slots, housing item limits from the cash shop.

    So far, the F2P and cash shop implementation seems to be very reasonable.

    If you are a housing junkie, I think you won’t be stepping outside of your plot/neighborhood for a long time. :P

    1. I do look forward to a bigger plot so much! :D
      The shop will be interesting….there’s a lot of potential if they do it right for a change (which cannot be said for any of the other NCSoft shops).

  3. I will say this about Wildstar; in spite of me never subscribing, I never removed the beta version from my computer. Last night, I actually fired it up and let it download several gigs worth of updates over the course of several hours.

    I did apply for a beta F2P key, so we’ll see if I get a chance to play.

  4. “Does Wildstar need desperate saving at this point” – Q1 they were $2.5M, Q2 2.08 that is at/below the revenue of CoH when it shut down. It sure seems like not only very disappointing for the size of the development, but also its current expenses.

    GL to everyone!

  5. WildStar needed a really good excuse to overhaul a lot of stuff to make it a more approachable and palatable game for new audience members. F2P gives them the incentive for that. I think it is a ‘new life with F2P or die by sub names’ situation.

  6. Well, the announcement of the impending F2P and the limits on character slots did make me buy the game so I could have more options. So they earned a bit of my cash, at least.

    Of course, for the “free” month that came with that purchase, I played all of two hours, and most of that noodling around in character creation and the first area. 2 hours in a month. This is why subs will never work for me, and why the F2P switch got me to invest a bit. It seemed like a bargain to buy the game ahead of time instead of buying character slots.

    …but yes, it took longer to download the game than the time I actually played it. The subscription-only model can’t die off fast enough for my taste.

    1. Heh yes, you always made a compelling case for f2p. :D
      I think it’s really the best option to go f2p with special sub services for those who would rather not mess with single transactions and single feature unlocks. LOTRO before it started with all the silly popups and daily slotmachines…..

      1. I’m actually happier with the “buy to play” classic model. Guild Wars spoiled me, I guess. That said, I did log a lot of hours in STO in their F2P, and Allods Online as well. I’ve spent a LOT of time in Puzzle Pirates, too. I agree that the slot machines, lockboxes and such are silly and unnecessary.

        I’m happy to pay for content. I did that in pieces with Wizard 101. I hate paying for time, and I’m even more annoyed with paying for a *chance* at something useful. That’s one of the reasons I’ll never spend money on Terra Battle or Slingshot Braves. Those are decent mobile games, with pretty good core game design, but the monetization stinks.

        It’s possible to do F2P well, and I hope that Wildstar pulls it off… but it’s apparently hard to avoid the temptation to sucker customers with slot machines. I’m never happy to see those silly lockboxes in Allods Online or STO, for example.

        This model of F2P with perks for subscribers does indeed seem like a really good way to handle things, since there *are* players who get good value out of subs, and it’s good to keep them in the loop.

  7. I was one of the nay-sayers who always said that it would never work in the format it launched with, and yet I still bought it anyhow.

    I have no interest in giving it the time of day while it’s a subscription, but I’ll definitely give it another shot when it launches as F2P. I really liked the aesthetics and the combat, I just could not get behind their “hardcore” mantra. I know I am a dirty casual :P

    1. As someone who did the attunement questchain of doom and raided a bit in WS, I still agree with you – the hardcore mantra of the game is OTT and feels poorly aligned with many of its other aspects. The dungeons are still way too hard….which is why I intend to focus on housing only in the future.

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