WildStar’s Next Stop: F2P

Sitting back and watching WildStar's future unfold

If the rumors are true about box recalls, WildStar might be going free-to-play. Having predicated WildStar would be free to play months ago, this change should come as a shock to no one, myself least of all.

Unfortunately, ignorance leads down the path to the dark side F2P. It’s not a subscription keeping players away from WildStar — it’s the one-dimensional content and gameplay. The developers had a myopic vision of what they thought people wanted, and ignored the blatantly obvious signs all around them that such a plan would fail. Playing WildStar simply isn’t fun, and no price can change that.

The relatively small group of players still enjoying WildStar are doing so on a subscription (or CREDD?). Reading the official forums and outlets where real players actually speak out, they don’t want the game to go F2P either. They’ll end up having to pay more for less if it does.

What NCSoft should do is push the game into a B2P model. Going F2P is just as foolish as developing a “hardcore” themepark game. If they go B2P with an optional subscription for added perks (maybe like a DLC season pass, still capable of being funded with CREDD) and actually put PvP and PvE where they should be at, then WildStar can most likely still chug along. All of that is a pipe dream though. Realistically, the community and interest have shrunk so badly that NCSoft is likely to align the China release with a F2P announcement in the West for their quarterly report. They’ll do the F2P conversion, ride it for a year or two at most, then close it down.

[Update: See comments below for a semi-official lead on what might be the direction WildStar is going (B2P).]

  • Omar works for carbine now and he said in towelliee’ stream the game is going b2p like eso not f2p

  • Or his name might not be Omar but that guy that used to work for EQ next at soe and drinks lots of skotch on stream

  • His name is Omeed. Good info, thanks Bartillo.

    If true, B2P like ESO is definitely a better step. Next stop for them should be to release some content actually worth playing, and do something to entice players back into the game. If I were them, I would actually revamp the entire game. I’d kill out the raiding entirely and work toward small group content. But even if they do that, WildStar is still a quest-driven themepark that is very, very one-dimensional. The whack-a-mole combat was driving me crazy.

  • His name’s Omeed Dariani. Got a link for him saying that?

    Not sure I see any great difference between F2P and B2P for games that convert from an original Sub design. It certainly IS the subscription that keeps me from playing WildStar. I liked it but not enough to make it my main (or even my main back-up) MMO. That means that, with a sub, I don’t play it at all.

    If it goes B2P I will buy it because it’s a game I’d like to dip into when I’m in the mood. If it goes F2P I’ll do exactly the same only I’ll save myself $30 or whatever it is. (Actually less – I just checked Amazon and it’s going for £11 in the UK).

  • He just said it in towelliee’s stream chat that “he works for carbine now and they are looking into B2P soon” and towelliee was like “oh cool B2p would be good”

  • @Bhagpuss: It’s a bit of semantics, but it’s really not the subscription keeping you from playing, it’s the fact that the game isn’t good enough to justify the subscription. Symptoms vs. Cause here. You can have a broken ankle and it hurts. If all you do is take ibuprofen then your ankle may hurt less but unless you fix the broken ankle it’ll keep on hurting. Now if you rephrase it to the subscription is keeping you from TRYING the game, then that might make more sense, but “trying” and “paying” are two very different things for the game, the player, and the company.

    B2P allows the company the earn money on box sales if they can earn your business, and then have to keep earning your money for content expansions or DLC sales. F2P means they never have to earn you as a player because 90%+ will try it once and never try it again, or never give the company any money and therefore be of almost no value. That’s why the F2P model is supported by whales.

    The F2P model is all about throwing $#!% against a wall and hoping something sticks before the entire place wreaks of … well, you know.

    @Bartillo: I’m skeptical of Omeed, and “Looking into B2P soon” isn’t really a “we’re going B2P and not F2P” statement. We’ll see.

  • B2p is the new buzzword because people are catching up on the fact that f2p does not work. But there really isn’t any difference between f2p and b2p. In effect, they are both variants of a cash shop operated game, but in one case you pay for a mandatory dlc that gives you access to the shop.
    The only potential benefit is a barrier of entry for hackers and give bans some weight.
    I don’t understand why you’re acting as if it meant a world of difference, can you go in further details?

    On wildstar, it’s not changing models that will save it. Like in most case it will only serve to alienate the people actually enjoying it. They just signed their death sentence. Without sub revenue and having to focus on store items, it won’t ever recover.

    It’s the same thing with eso, except that eso had managed to stabilise and grow a bit according to steam activity charts. So eso lost even more in the conversion.

  • @Frosth: Having to create content worth playing/buying vs. Simply trying to make your gameplay experience suck just enough to force people into spending cash to buy boosters is a huge difference to me.

    Now, if you add a big cash shop with the same F2P crap in it but charge for a box then you’re correct in there being little difference save for a barrier to entry.

    When I think of B2P I think of regular ole games. Buy the box, play forever. Constant development is required to keep the game afloat. There’s not as much money in that model, though, which is why cash shops and tons of DLC come into play.

    All of these business models in the MMO sphere seem to be skirting around the issue: Cashflow is necessary for continued support. That’s why a subscription makes most sense. Earning the subscription requires skill and finesse. It’s easier to make something free and hide behind it.

  • Two points on B2P/F2P.

    I have played both EQ and EQ2 under most of the many payment models they have used. I played both for years with a subscription, I played under the original F2P rules on the Freeport server and under all the variations since. I am still playing both games regularly, on several accounts which are variously F2P and All Access.

    I can assure you that from my perspective, over more than fifteen years of continual play, the payment models have not materially affected either my enjoyment of either game, the way I play either game, or my perception of the people playing either game around me. Oh, except for the first year or so on Freeport, where playing under the “Silver” F2P restrictions actually refreshed my interest considerably by making me stop hoarding loot and manage my bag space more efficiently.

    Similarly, I find it very hard, from quite extensive personal experience, to see much, if any, difference in my in-game experience of any MMO based on its payment model. I’ll accept that you can perceive a difference but it’s lost on me.

    Secondly, your argument on Wildstar simply not being good enough to justify a sub is not appropriate to my personal situation. The quality of the game had nothing to do with my decision not to play it. I thought it was as good as a number of other MMOs I play, which I don’t pay for or for which I only had to pay for once. To justify a sub, though, it would have to be better than the MMOs I spend most of my time playing – GW2, EQ, EQ2 currently.

    Wildstar was just like FFXIV – good but not good enough to replace my existing choices. If either of them were F2P or B2P I’d be playing them as often as I play TSW, Allods, free WoW, Fallen Earth, ESO and all the rest, namely as often as I have moment and the mood takes me.

    I’d no more consider playing just one MMO than I’d listen to just one band or read just one author. If there were bands or authors who demanded a monthly fee every time I wanted to listen to one of their albums or read one of their novels that I’d already bought, though, chances I would be skipping them too, no matter how “good” they were they were, unless they were my very favorites. Then I might.

  • The subscription is certainly what is keeping from trying this game. I miss everyone having a subscription and some type of trial to test it out.

  • @Bhagpuss “I’d no more consider playing just one MMO than I’d listen to just one band or read just one author.”
    => The music comparison is really interesting : there is the streaming service allowing free access to – nearly- all music for a sub. If a Sub would allow me to have access to all MMO (or all games ) I would be happy to pay a sub – something like 20-30€ max for a All-Game, 10-15€ max for a All-MMO

    The point is I have – like a lot of people – a big bias to ownership VS renting. Even if I end paying more, owning something seems more valuable to me that renting it.

  • It has nothing to do with the gameplay; it’s an exceeding fun game. The problem is the players.

  • @Lethality: While a degree of subjectivity is at play here with whether or not the game is “fun,” I think it’s tough to ignore the fact that the number of people playing WildStar has declined substantially to the point of server merges and continued losses. These are facts, and when facts are weighed against the question of ‘why’ it has to be considered that people simply did not enjoy WildStar.

    @Bartillo: No, I’ll be in Arizona on a top secret mission for Friday and Saturday.

  • I think Looney Tunes the MMO should have been F2P to start with. The fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all is the exact opposite of what immersion craving, subscription paying (magic circle retaining) people like myself are looking for. Go for the iphone gaming crowd with your ERHMAGERD YOU DIED LELZ /guitarriff nonsense.

    I mean come on:

    The fact that even one person thought this would pull in the vanilla WoW crowd is astounding.

  • Lol @ that youtube link. After those few seconds, I instantly was able to decide that I do not in fact want to hear pinball sounds, arcade sounds, zany melodramatics, and see box outlines constantly in my MMO experience.

    Thank the Gods I stayed away from Wildstar. Good to know I still have some working instincts after all these years in the MMO bog.

  • Wow those sounds were so annoying. I was having flashbacks to 90s arcade games.

  • @keen
    Ho I totally get the traditional b2p model for “regular” games with arena multiplayer only.

    But we were talking about mmos, and as you said, in that context cashflow is all that matters. For that, f2p and b2p is the same thing.

    See that music analogy is the reason why you don’t feel the loss of quality of f2p over sub.
    You don’t want to have only one while those that notice can’t imagine playing more than one.
    You seem like a loyal customer but you’re just not consuming mmos for the same reasons and in the same way.

    There are a lot of players like you, and I don’t have any issues with you guys, it’s just a different perspective, but different enough to have an impact on a larger scale.

    Lately, most games have been addressed to players like you and none to “immersion” players. That’s where most of the ressentment you see on forums comes from. And on top of that, the models chosen to target non immersion players are not sustainable for mmos. Even if it weren’t impacting gameplay negatively, all f2p/b2p games lose revenue over time so even great games go down.

    There is a tangible threat to the mmo genre that if this round of mmos fail, there won’t be any big budget ones coming for a long time.

    Wildstar switching to b2p is a bad news for everybody.

  • As the contrary POV, I loved Wildstar. It was a vivid, entertaining, different and fun game. The leveling up was varied, the dungeons challenging and, hells, I was surprised to be seriously engaged by their storytelling. The crafting was interesting. They did creative things with group PVE content and housing and all sorts of things. The exploration and discovery that you could do (and the detail that seemed to go into every little spot of their game) was astounding.

    It is a MMO worthy of praise.

    Except that they attached this insane attunement process to progressing into the ‘serious’ game modes. Their already damn hard (in a good way, mostly) dungeons were made even harder in a way that allowed nothing to bumpiness of internet connections and bad luck. Worse, they scaled poorly. So attuning people was much more of a chore than it should have been.

    In trying to make it something worth working for, they made it a 3 monther. Such is life. (I’m pretty my sub went exactly 3 months.)

    But, seriously now. Don’t call it a bad game. Because it wasn’t. It just wasn’t what the producers wanted (aka, WoW.)

    As a B2P game, I’d seriously suggest playing through the levelling content to most people. It’s genuinely good.

  • @Bathoz I would give it a try but I’m afraid my ears would be bleeding after a few moments and I’d never be able to take myself or anything seriously, ever again.

  • @Keen

    Off Topic; Did you see anything about this “new” ‘”Romero’s” Aftermath’ game? I just got an email from them, saying it was a rebranded Infestation Survivor Stories which I think had another name before too and sucked so badly they changed it. Apparently twice, lol.

    Just thought it might be a fun topic for you to talk about 🙂

  • @Keen

    I don’t actually think it’s people not enjoying WildStar because it’s a bad game. It’s an excellent, well-crafted game. But players will not allow themselves to enjoy a game without undressing it before they even lay their hands on it.

    Combine this with the social baggage players have in WoW or whatever game they’re coming from, and they’re not tolerant of anything that isn’t easier or more rewarding… even then, their friends are not there.

    While each new game that comes out has flaws, they all do. What we need now is players to be able to see the bigger picture and play the games with the intent of having fun. They might be surprised at what they find.

  • I’ve been playing Dayz Origins for months now. It has almost zero content other than what other players are doing. However, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of any persistent online game I’ve ever played. Content for me, will and always has been, about how the game can allow players to tell their own stories and conquer their own piece of the game world.