WildStar Goes Free-to-Play September 29

WildStar Goes Free-to-Play September 29

wildstar screenshot

NCsoft's sci-fi MMO WildStar will go free-to-play at the end of this month.

Way back in May, we heard that NCsoft's ambitious sci-fi MMO WildStar would be going free-to-play. Now, the developer has finally given us a definite date: September 29. The free-to-play update will rebrand the game as WildStar: Reloaded, and include a wealth of new features for new and old players alike.

"WildStar: Reloaded includes BIG changes to core game systems; a new character creation and intro experience; improvements to dungeons, itemization, tradeskills, world bosses and group content; a class stat revamp; new quality of life features, bonus events, the Cosmic Rewards program, and so much more," wrote NCsoft in a blog post.

Furthermore, the new WildStar Signature service will replace any current on-going subscriptions, and will act as the optional premium "paid" subscription, offering various in-game goodies and advantages. Veteran players will also receive additional rewards based on how long they have been playing, as detailed here.

Read more about the big changes to the game NCsoft

Permalink

Interesting, but I'm not sure if this will save it. I think one of Wildstar's big problems was that it was just too silly and cartoony and thus didn't hit the spot they wanted from players who wanted a more serious sci-fi RPG. I tend to be pretty tolerant of such things but wound up walking away from this one, and from talking to other users and former players I hardly seem to be alone. I don't think it can ever be more than a niche product, and truthfully I'm sort of surprised it lasted this long without going FTP.... that said other than being too silly and cartoony the gameplay is pretty solid, and it has some interesting ideas.

I think it was trying to be "WoWin space" and looked at Wow's enduring art style after all these years but wasn't able to strike the balance where WoW was able to be cartoony and pretty serious at the same time, which is a difficult thing to pull off. It's like every silly moment in WoW got multiplied by a hundred, launched in a spaceship, and became Wildstar.

Not that anyone will care but the sci-fi game I have my eyes on is "The Repopulation" which seems like it might be a replacement for SWG as much as anything can be. That said it seems few games have wanted to even try and do the "STO" thing and have both space and ground based game components, which is what I ideally want (without space being entirely some kind of action-twitch thing), which is why I keep coming back to STO (Star Trek Online) despite it's myriad failings.

This reminds me I need to go and cancel my subscription! I haven't even played in 6 months, so they got quite a few dollars out of me for free at this point.

I really don't think it's a bad game... I rushed to the end game content with my guild, but once I got there I did find myself bored, not with the game itself, but sadly, the people :P

Wildstar was subscription-based? Granted I was never interested in it in the slightest but I didn't know something like that can survive nowadays without at least a billion dollars in budget.

Case in point, it hasn't. But it went on for a while.

TESO has already gone f2p, right? Looks like WoW and FFXIV are the only ones remaining afloat.

I found the game awful and beyond boring for most of the same reasons I find most MMOs boring. However, I kind of liked the art style on some of the characters. It reminded me of Jak and Daxter.

Dalsyne:
Wildstar was subscription-based? Granted I was never interested in it in the slightest but I didn't know something like that can survive nowadays without at least a billion dollars in budget.

Case in point, it hasn't. But it went on for a while.

TESO has already gone f2p, right? Looks like WoW and FFXIV are the only ones remaining afloat.

Well the curse on MMOs is that game developers are an argument against human sentience and the ability to learn and adapt. All of these games continue to do the same exact things again, and again, and again and meet with the same results, to the point where it goes beyond insanity, it's almost like a malfunctioning robot.

People like me have bee saying "hey, look, if your going to launch an MMO make sure you have enough content at launch, sure you can add content later, but you'll never get there if everyone finishes and leaves. The only way to get people to do a mind numbing grind that they pay for is to inspire them first. It's been many years now, having 3x the content of WoW when it launched doesn't mean anything since your competing with WoW *now* not when it launched. Put most of your attention into the endgame as part of the game concept because eventually everyone maxes out and that's where they all sit where you want them to keep paying. The days of having three dungeons, two raids, and some afterthought PVP that can't even segregate pre-made teams from PUGS and calling it an endgame have been gone for a long time now".

Wildstar was too cutsey for me, but had some good ideas. That said it did rather transparently hit all the major MMO planning problems. Someone here mentioned that they left because the people bored them, but that's part of the thing, companies now expect social aspects to maintain a game, when really a game has to maintain devotion and then the social aspects build around that.

It's not so much having a billion dollars in budget, though this is not a cheap undertaking and to do it right is not something that can be done on a comparative budget. It's at least as expensive as a big budget movie or two to attempt right. It's all about forethought and planning. Devs seem to always think that some ideas for a cool game is enough, where really it takes planning... it's like planning an amusement park, having the best theme in the world doesn't matter if you don't plan out the business and how to keep it operating in the long term. Understanding people as something other than income sources to be herded also helps, finding ways to make them pay means nothing if you can't make them want to, you need to provide motivation for people to keep re-upping that subscription.

I personally suspect we will see another great MMO, but the designers will have to operate outside of the little box of failure that everyone keeps duplicating.

Honestly if I was to develop an MMO the first thing I'd want to do is establish a trust producing sufficient income to cover the cost of servers and the basic personel to run them. Much like a lot of other trust funds do for other things. This would allow the game to run perpetually in an absolute worst case scenario. Then whatever other money making techniques I came up with I'd guarantee at least half of it went into the trust towards pumping it up to maintain it's existence and create new content with the surplus. I think one thing that hurts MMOs is that they are increasingly transient and after the collapse of some big ones people are a bit afraid to get involved, a game that is guaranteed to be there as long as you are would probably help a lot.

Well now I have all the dates I needed! Wildstar September 29th, GW2: Heart of Thorns October 23rd, and Fallout 4 November 10th. I'm gonna have a busy Fall and Winter...

Least I got LOTRO to tide me over until then!

Dalsyne:
Wildstar was subscription-based? Granted I was never interested in it in the slightest but I didn't know something like that can survive nowadays without at least a billion dollars in budget.

Case in point, it hasn't. But it went on for a while.

TESO has already gone f2p, right? Looks like WoW and FFXIV are the only ones remaining afloat.

No there are others FFIX, Ultima Online and Eve online for instance.

P-89 Scorpion:

No there are others FFIX, Ultima Online and Eve online for instance.

Ultima Online is STILL doing subscriptions?!?

image

Actually might give it a shot by then. Currently in a bit of a dry period regarding gaming.

Dalsyne:
Wildstar was subscription-based? Granted I was never interested in it in the slightest but I didn't know something like that can survive nowadays without at least a billion dollars in budget.

Case in point, it hasn't. But it went on for a while.

TESO has already gone f2p, right? Looks like WoW and FFXIV are the only ones remaining afloat.

WoW kinda. They've lost well over %50 of their subs within the last year. I believe WoW is also F2P until level 20, but the game today has so many ways to fast tracks people to the endgame its hurting the community. FFXIV may be top MMO before the end of this year, which is scary because SqEnix had to rebuild it nearly from scratch.

I couldn't play Wildstar for more than an hour. It's aesthetic looked far too much like an abstract painting, it was just all too silly.

Therumancer:
Well the curse on MMOs is that game developers are an argument against human sentience and the ability to learn and adapt. All of these games continue to do the same exact things again, and again, and again and meet with the same results, to the point where it goes beyond insanity, it's almost like a malfunctioning robot.

Hahahahahah:)

The Escapist needs to write "How Not To Blow Hundreds Of Millions Chasing WoW". Have it comprise entirely of comments on other articles.

It'd never stop investors from throwing their money away, mind you. But at least we could point to it after the fact, for that I-told-you-so Schadenfreude buzz.

Wiggum Esquilax:
The Escapist needs to write "How Not To Blow Hundreds Of Millions Chasing WoW". Have it comprise entirely of comments on other articles.

It'd never stop investors from throwing their money away, mind you. But at least we could point to it after the fact, for that I-told-you-so Schadenfreude buzz.

The endless sea of WoW-clones and the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown down the drain in the process really highlights how little investors know about the game industry.

If there's anyone to get a schadenfreude buzz off of, it's these people (or really anyone who gets a comfortable income on the virtue of simply having money).

The fun thing about WoW clones isn't how much money they lose, but how much money they actually make. It's common to think of them needing to be as successful as WoW to make a profit, but they really don't. WoW is a runaway success that makes bucketloads of money, and has funded a company purely by itself. Even so, that's not the definition of success, making your money back at appropriate returns is.

That's a much easier target to shoot for, and surprisingly easy to get. Games don't go f2p because they're struggling to make any money, but more of a way to get all they can from their investment. It's smart, too. Any basic economics class will teach you that anytime you have a semi-monopoly, to optimize profit you sell at multiple price points.

Considering the history of NCSoft points to free-to-play just being a last prelude to gouge money before grabbing the money and running as fast as they can, I think I'm gonna stay far away from this one.

I don't know why people are referring to Wildstar as a WoW clone. Except for the similar art direction style (both chose a cartoony based art style), Wildstar is nothing like the current WoW. It has a passing resemblance to the old pre-Lich King WoW in terms of some group content, but other than that the similarity is "Oh well they are both MMORPG's" and hence share some things common to the genre.

I say this as someone who quit playing both games (and started both at release), but if you discount the pure volume of content that WoW has built over the years, in terms of gameplay, Wild Star is by far the superior product. The fact that they have to go F2P is less about how good they are and just the realities that the bottom has fallen out of the MMORPG market. In fact, the only reason why WoW can still charge anything at all for a subscription is because it has been somewhat insulated due to the inertia of the size of it's social network (a large group of people play wow, pay for wow, to hang out with friends more than play the game).

Therumancer:
Interesting, but I'm not sure if this will save it. I think one of Wildstar's big problems was that it was just too silly and cartoony and thus didn't hit the spot they wanted from players who wanted a more serious sci-fi RPG. I tend to be pretty tolerant of such things but wound up walking away from this one, and from talking to other users and former players I hardly seem to be alone. I don't think it can ever be more than a niche product, and truthfully I'm sort of surprised it lasted this long without going FTP.... that said other than being too silly and cartoony the gameplay is pretty solid, and it has some interesting ideas.

Surely that can't strictly speaking be a pure negative though?
Lots of people like silly.
I mean, when wildstar first started, the race introduction video was brilliant, even if I never did play the game. (my badges might imply otherwise, but no, never played it)

To be honest though, I'm not much for MMO's in general.

Now, sure, if you think you can get an audience that is into 'serious' to play a really quirky, cartoony game, that's probably not going to happen.
But then if you're trying to do that, you are clearly trying very hard to lure in completely the wrong kind of audience.

But it seems a little defeatist to say any such concept is doomed to failure just for existing...

Also... STO's ground combat sucks.
It might have both space and ground, but when one of the two is kinda terrible, it becomes something of a moot point. XD
Also it absolutely butchers the setting.
Basically, it is bound to piss off any die-hard star trek fan because it force-fed bog-standard MMORPG mechanics and economics into a setting where the economics in particular are quite at odds with the setting.
Not to mention giving literally everyone a starship made no sense either.
(it's understandable why they did that, but I think I would have preferred it if they had had the courage to stick with the vision the original company that began the project had; People were ensigns and lieutenants and the like and actually had roles that fit with that. Commanding a starship would've taken a lot of work to get up to, not be something the game just hands everyone)

Wiggum Esquilax:

Therumancer:
Well the curse on MMOs is that game developers are an argument against human sentience and the ability to learn and adapt. All of these games continue to do the same exact things again, and again, and again and meet with the same results, to the point where it goes beyond insanity, it's almost like a malfunctioning robot.

Hahahahahah:)

The Escapist needs to write "How Not To Blow Hundreds Of Millions Chasing WoW". Have it comprise entirely of comments on other articles.

It'd never stop investors from throwing their money away, mind you. But at least we could point to it after the fact, for that I-told-you-so Schadenfreude buzz.

Well the problem isn't chasing WoW, it's in doing it the wrong way. With most MMOS it's a case where they are great until you get to the endgame, and then the content gets the floor dropped out from under it, replaced with a grind that doesn't even provide that much of a motivation. A lot of the time it also just recycles old content, say letting you run older material at a new level of difficulty. As much, if not more, focus needs to go into endgame and motivating players as goes into the rest of the game because that's where the players wind up and that's where they will keep re-upping subscriptions. Not one MMO I can think of has managed to learn this lesson in years. Also when they chase WoW, they are looking back at WoW when it launched, not what it became, and they can't have that mentality.

There is also the whole "Funcom" problem which is where they release a fine MMO, but do it with a niche premise and somehow expect this to be a blockbuster success. TSW reviewed quite well before release for example, then it was a shock when it wasn't some huge WoW-like success when anyone with a brain could have told them that if they had made their expectations for it known. After that they decided to more or less throw a tantrum and stormed off to give up on AAA game design and focus on games with Lego Mini-figs and a less demanding audience... which was easier than learning their lesson and tempering expectations accordingly.

I'm not sure if an article would really help, all of this has been said before, and like a malfunctioning robot if it doesn't fit the established programming it simply "does not compute". I'll confess part of it is probably the expectations of investors who are impatient on returns, but you can't continually blame them, it's still the developers who don't plan for an appropriately robust endgame, keep recycling the same mistakes, and then see the subscriptions and interest fall off. The most telling sign of a game that is going to crash is one that tries to force grouping and social aspects especially at the endgame and then expects social inertia and drama to keep the game going.

In addition to my comments about funding with a trust, which is increasingly important in this era of long term virtual property and item sales, I've long felt two solutions are to create a set of MUD-like tools allowing Devs to continually generate tons of content for the game. We already see something like this, in a much more limited form, in Cryptic games, and of course the inability to control rewards and such unlike what a dev could do makes it so it's not all that worthwhile, they almost have to bribe people to create and play some of that content.

Another solution which Anarchy Online experimented with was to include rogue like elements with randomly generated dungeons and such (either group or solo) and mounting rewards.

You just don't see many people working with anything but the same pool of ideas, which keep failing, not even looking back at ideas from the past to see if they can be polished and improved.

CrystalShadow:

Therumancer:
Interesting, but I'm not sure if this will save it. I think one of Wildstar's big problems was that it was just too silly and cartoony and thus didn't hit the spot they wanted from players who wanted a more serious sci-fi RPG. I tend to be pretty tolerant of such things but wound up walking away from this one, and from talking to other users and former players I hardly seem to be alone. I don't think it can ever be more than a niche product, and truthfully I'm sort of surprised it lasted this long without going FTP.... that said other than being too silly and cartoony the gameplay is pretty solid, and it has some interesting ideas.

Surely that can't strictly speaking be a pure negative though?
Lots of people like silly.
I mean, when wildstar first started, the race introduction video was brilliant, even if I never did play the game. (my badges might imply otherwise, but no, never played it)

To be honest though, I'm not much for MMO's in general.

Now, sure, if you think you can get an audience that is into 'serious' to play a really quirky, cartoony game, that's probably not going to happen.
But then if you're trying to do that, you are clearly trying very hard to lure in completely the wrong kind of audience.

But it seems a little defeatist to say any such concept is doomed to failure just for existing...

Also... STO's ground combat sucks.
It might have both space and ground, but when one of the two is kinda terrible, it becomes something of a moot point. XD
Also it absolutely butchers the setting.
Basically, it is bound to piss off any die-hard star trek fan because it force-fed bog-standard MMORPG mechanics and economics into a setting where the economics in particular are quite at odds with the setting.
Not to mention giving literally everyone a starship made no sense either.
(it's understandable why they did that, but I think I would have preferred it if they had had the courage to stick with the vision the original company that began the project had; People were ensigns and lieutenants and the like and actually had roles that fit with that. Commanding a starship would've taken a lot of work to get up to, not be something the game just hands everyone)

Well, when making an MMO you want people to play for the long term you need to think in term of mass appeal to people who will keep re-upping subscriptions. Silly is fine with a lot of people, but drives enough off where it can make maintaining a subscription model difficult as we've seen. I'm sure this wasn't the only factor to what happened with Wildstar but I feel it contributed. Also it should be noted that some silly is fine, but there is such a thing as too much and I think "too much" was Wildstar's problem rather than it not being deadpan serious.

As far as STO's issues, it's one of the more successful FTP games right now it seems, but yes it DOES have it's issues. If anything it suffered from being too ambitious and not enough dev time. If someone could take those ideas and say work on a better ground/team management game they could have a winner. Someone who say managed to combine say Anarchy Online for a ground game and EVE or the old "Earth and Beyond" (much simpler) for a space game, would likely have a serious winner. One of the problems with STO, and to an extent KoTRO is that I think licensed settings holds MMOS back, I don't keep coming back to STO because it's trek, but because it's an ambitious and functional sci-fi game that has done things nobody else has even attempted, there is literally nothing else like it. Had someone taken the basic game concepts, a unique universe, and more initial polish, I think it could have been the WoW-competitive juggernaut a lot of people wanted, but instead it was rushed, limited by it's license which came with certain expectations, and is still riddled with problems that have existed from it's inception as a result, it's actually on a lot of levels amazing to see it's lasted as long, and been as successful, as it has.

CrystalShadow:
Also... STO's ground combat sucks.
It might have both space and ground, but when one of the two is kinda terrible, it becomes something of a moot point. XD
Also it absolutely butchers the setting.
Basically, it is bound to piss off any die-hard star trek fan because it force-fed bog-standard MMORPG mechanics and economics into a setting where the economics in particular are quite at odds with the setting.
Not to mention giving literally everyone a starship made no sense either.
(it's understandable why they did that, but I think I would have preferred it if they had had the courage to stick with the vision the original company that began the project had; People were ensigns and lieutenants and the like and actually had roles that fit with that. Commanding a starship would've taken a lot of work to get up to, not be something the game just hands everyone)

Shit yes. I actually like STO a lot, but the ground game is stock and repetitive. They've got like 3 landscapes, for fuck's sake.

It's kind of why I've been looking for at the Wildstar ftp launch, but it always felt a little too much like Borderlands for me. From the beta, I always felt the aesthetic of the UI would have been better suited if the story were about a game show or competition.

Therumancer:

Well, when making an MMO you want people to play for the long term you need to think in term of mass appeal to people who will keep re-upping subscriptions. Silly is fine with a lot of people, but drives enough off where it can make maintaining a subscription model difficult as we've seen. I'm sure this wasn't the only factor to what happened with Wildstar but I feel it contributed. Also it should be noted that some silly is fine, but there is such a thing as too much and I think "too much" was Wildstar's problem rather than it not being deadpan serious.

As far as STO's issues, it's one of the more successful FTP games right now it seems, but yes it DOES have it's issues. If anything it suffered from being too ambitious and not enough dev time. If someone could take those ideas and say work on a better ground/team management game they could have a winner. Someone who say managed to combine say Anarchy Online for a ground game and EVE or the old "Earth and Beyond" (much simpler) for a space game, would likely have a serious winner. One of the problems with STO, and to an extent KoTRO is that I think licensed settings holds MMOS back, I don't keep coming back to STO because it's trek, but because it's an ambitious and functional sci-fi game that has done things nobody else has even attempted, there is literally nothing else like it. Had someone taken the basic game concepts, a unique universe, and more initial polish, I think it could have been the WoW-competitive juggernaut a lot of people wanted, but instead it was rushed, limited by it's license which came with certain expectations, and is still riddled with problems that have existed from it's inception as a result, it's actually on a lot of levels amazing to see it's lasted as long, and been as successful, as it has.

Yeah, I'll admit it still seems to be going strong, so on some level it's doing something right.

Licensed properties are a bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand you have the people that like the setting, who probably have certain expectations because of that.
On the other, you have the ones that like the gameplay, (or some other element that has little to do with the license).

Problem of course is, unless the fans of the licence you are using are numerous enough and interested enough to sustain the game, you end up needing to compromise.
That compromise ultimately makes the game worse both for the fans of the licensed properties (starts diverging from the setting in ways that are annoying), and people that just want a game with roughly that concept and theme. (The license imposes limitations that interfere with making it a better game experience generally)

So, in some ways if you try and hit both targets with a licensed game, the end result is basically a loss for everyone involved.
(And I just realised who I'm talking to. Ahh. Memories. Almost makes it feel like 5 years ago. almost XD)

kitsunefather:

CrystalShadow:

Shit yes. I actually like STO a lot, but the ground game is stock and repetitive. They've got like 3 landscapes, for fuck's sake.

It's kind of why I've been looking for at the Wildstar ftp launch, but it always felt a little too much like Borderlands for me. From the beta, I always felt the aesthetic of the UI would have been better suited if the story were about a game show or competition.

No kidding. The ground combat is so unwieldy. Can't make up it's mind what it's trying to be, doesn't really fit the setting that well, and just generally doesn't work.
And yeah... Repetitive is right.
Most landscapes are so easy to get lost in.

I mean, some of them are stunning in places (dilithium mines, if you're in a fleet, the fleet mine in particular comes to mind), but they can be so maze-like. And whatever looks pretty gets repeated a million times until you don't know which way is up...

I for one am looking forward to this, though i'm cautiously optimistic about how well it will do after f2p drops. Honestly, I wasn't aware people had an issue with the cartoony art style. To me it adds its own charm to the game world, and makes everything feel more 'alive' due to the far greater range of motion that takes place. May just be me, but hey.

No, the problem that I -really- hope is properly fixed are the bugs. At launch, the game was a total mess. Even now I still have occasional official addon crashes and subpar performance at populated zones. I'm not talking about 30 or 20 fps either, i'm meaning less than 5fps with a GTX780. Granted this is only at populated world events, but when free to play drops there will be far more people in the world, and these kind of issues may become more apparent.

I love the game. It has neat lore, amazing housing and fun content. I'm not even a part of the 'hardcore' demographic that they went for early on, I'm a full blown filthy casual. But they have to ensure the game is up to par when relaunch ticks around, or they wont get another chance.

I absolutely loved the art style of Wildstar and the personal housing was a blast. My problem with it was the physical pain playing caused my hands after questing for awhile because it requires constant motion/attention. I like my questing a little more relaxed while saving the intense eyes glued to screen for raiding and such. I'm also more drawn to the story and they seem to have plopped the start of it around level 30. By level 20 as a chua I had no idea about my race other than they were insane, I hated the corrupt political church I was fighting for and it was just dull. The green alien guys were humerous at first, but quickly wore out their welcome.

I finally just quit after the first month at about level 20 (It took me a week after I started just to get into it, there were some movement and overwhelming visual issues in the very start that I had to push through). When I found out about the story really starting at 30, I gave it another month. The story drove me to level through to the end and then I immediately quit and uninstalled the game. I miss the characters I made and my little plot of land in the sky, but the game play wasn't for me.

The crafting system was a bit of a love/hate relationship. I liked the idea behind it, but not the implementation. Having the recipe appear on a dart board and then having various parts used move you from the center closer to the target in various directions was a great idea. Having those same parts randomly decide to go too far/close/up/down when the exact same parts worked the last try for the same exact spot was frustrating.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here