Rumor: WildStar box recall and promo might herald free-to-play

The last time the retailer yanked boxes of a game from the shelves and returned them to the distributors, it was The Elder Scrolls Online, shortly before that title announced its buy-to-play conversion. Now the same thing is happening, only this time it’s boxes of WildStar. As go Australian EB Games outlets, so goes the rest of the world. You laugh, you mock, but can you be sure it isn’t true?

In all seriousness, there’s no smoking gun proving that this does herald a business model shift, and there are plenty of potential causes for pulling the boxes from shelves. But after what happened the last time, the rumor does have a bit of extra weight.

Afternoon update: Carbine has now announced a Mystery Box Promotion for WildStar. According to the developer post, all standard-edition boxed copies of the game will come with codes for a random mount, hoverboard, or costume. The promotion does not apply to digital copies or collectors edition copies of the game, and the special items are not account-wide. Gametime from the boxes stacks, according to the studio. Guest passes are no longer offered.
[Source: Games.on.net; thanks to Kieran, Dante, and Clay for the tip!]
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maximsarlet
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maximsarlet

ClassicCrime DasBenty The thing about sub fee is that to me it gives some kind of pressure to play cause I’ve payed for the sub, unlike a b2p game I play whenever I want (I’m a casual gamer who loves MMO).

maximsarlet
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maximsarlet

DoctorOverlord Zarkov LoLLL they went f2p with aion no? :p

Lockeman
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Lockeman

DugFromTheEarth EatCandy I know I’m 2 days late but I just read this debate just now and wanted to say that I can’t believe you, DugFromTheEarth, had the patience to go rounds with EatCandy as long as you did. lol
BTW you’re spot on DugFromTheEarth!

DoctorOverlord
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DoctorOverlord

Tearofsoul  I miss those Wildstar animations.   They were so BRILLIANT.   A pity the game itself couldn’t match the animations.

DoctorOverlord
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DoctorOverlord

Zarkov Yeah, NCSoft is like a bi-polar asylum inmate.  There’s no telling what they heck they’re going to do.

DoctorOverlord
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DoctorOverlord

syberghost Evade2015 Cambruin WildarX RooWoods Yeah it’s always good to ask for (and provide) data sources.  
It may seem like WoW is the gorilla of the market, and just because one’s friends are all pay subs doesn’t mean that’s the case in the actual market.   There is no denying that subs numbers in general are falling, FF and Wildstars numbers do not account for WoWs losses.   Then there were the plethora of WoW-clone failures we just lived through indicating that designing a sub-mode basedl game is not a good bet.  
Frankly, WoW is looking more and more like a one-time-only occurrence in the MMO genre.  Even Blizzard doesn’t appear to think they can duplicate it given the cancellation of Titan.

syberghost
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syberghost

carson63000 syberghost Evade2015 Werewolf Finds Dragon the worst such failure was Realtime Worlds, which spent something like $130 million on their first game, APB, and then sold it to GamersFirst for $1.3 million when they went out of business less than 80 days after releasing with a sub.

It’s supposedly doing quite well now as F2P, but I haven’t examined GF financials. They really got a bargain in that deal.

Launching CO and STO with subs, which BTW Cryptic did *NOT* want to do but had thrust upon them by Atari, nearly killed them and Atari both; PWE saved Cryptic and dumping Cryptic saved Atari, although jury’s still out on the latter.

Mythic’s choice to launch Warhammer Online with a sub is one of the largest reasons they failed to maintain the necessary post-launch income to sufficient promised features to keep that game open, although the actual destruction of the company was masked by corporate shell games that officially kept it open until recently. Another case of the benefits of having a big company to hide your little company in.

Initially launching Pirates of the Burning Sea with a sub eventually led to the semi-demise of Flying Labs when SOE cut the game loose (to their credit, selling it to a startup by some of the devs, Portalus Games), although once again Perfect World to the rescue there, picking them up shortly before they would have had to fire everybody. They survived the recent PWE employee purge, too, in their current incarnation as Cryptic North.

syberghost
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syberghost

Evade2015 syberghost Cambruin WildarX RooWoods OK; show me your data source for the assertion that “more people play sub based MMOs than F2P or B2P”, and I’ll review it.

Evade2015
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Evade2015

syberghost Evade2015 Cambruin WildarX RooWoods 
My guess is they are including games that are not MMOs like LoL.

syberghost
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syberghost

Evade2015 Cambruin WildarX RooWoods I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but Superdata says F2P revenues outstrip sub revenues 2:1 in North America. There aren’t many sub only MMOs left in the market, and the big three are all declining in sub numbers.

As for Cambruin attributing it to underemployment; I make six figures. I don’t rent access to my characters. This oft-repeated chestnut was relevant in 2009, it’s not now.

Evade2015
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Evade2015

Cambruin WildarX RooWoods 
Considering more people play sub based MMOs than Free to play or buy to play MMOs in North America, I would argue sub model is the majority. The problem is, people don’t play 2 sub based games at a time.

Cambruin
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Cambruin

WildarX RooWoods Don’t mistake a flawed game for a flawed business model. Subscriptions are something many people, a minority I agree, are willing to pay, but the game having it should offer what F2P games can’t/wont. ESO was quite simply flawed upon release, which is why people left. Not because of the subscription model.
Honestly speaking; if you’re not willing to pay 10-15$ or € for something that can keep you entertained a whole month, then perhaps you oughta be looking for a job instead of playing F2P titles.

Tridus
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Tridus

Rozyn carson63000 Agreed. The real difference between B2P and F2P is that in one of them, the game client costs you $0. In the other one, it costs you > $0.

That’s it. Everything after that is implementation details and the two can look very similar (or very different) depending on how the company decides to monetize. But that’s also true of two F2P games or two B2P games, which can also look very different depending on how it’s done.

Path of Exile and Candy Crush Saga are both F2P games. They have nothing else in common in how their monetization works.

Rozyn
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Rozyn

carson63000 Rozyn  You’re oversimplifying it, MMO monetization is way more nuanced than F2P/B2P/Sub. What I’m seeing are B2P models still trying to sell small, frequent purchases as if they were F2P – except they’re not – they’re making you also pay $60. I don’t mean a blur in the title they’re using, but in the actual practice of what they’re doing under the guise of that title. “The cash shops are looking mighty similar” – and the cash shop is what really makes a difference. What is in it, what’s being promoted, and most importantly, how the gameplay is encouraging or punishing you until you pay for the crap they’re selling. The general hope is that if you pay upfront for the game, they don’t have to be such sharks in the cash shop about making money because they already received a sizable chunk of profit. I’m just saying, just because a game calls itself B2P isn’t a promise that they can’t or won’t use shady F2P tactics (no offense to GW2, not necessarily saying it’s doing that.)

TL:DR there’s a hell of a lot more that goes into a game model than the name, and you can’t just trust that definition by default

WildarX
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WildarX

RooWoods I think the only ones thinking “Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online were seen as the saviors of the subscription model…” where Wildstar and ESO.  Everyone else, specifically the peeps at Massively that Was, were stating they should NOT being doing subs.

carson63000
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carson63000

Rozyn carson63000 You might as well say “the only difference between Subs and a B2P title is the monthly cost”. It’s true, but it’s like saying “the only difference between a circle and a square is that a circle is round”. The fact that you have to buy a B2P game and can play a F2P game for free is the very definition of the two terms.

p.s. I’m not making any sort of value judgement of the two models here, I’m just saying, where’s the blur?

carson63000
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carson63000

syberghost Evade2015 Werewolf Finds Dragon Which companies have shut down as a result of a foolish decision to persist with a subscription game?

Rozyn
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Rozyn

carson63000 Rozyn I literally addressed that in my comment lol. If the only difference between a B2P and F2P title is the upfront cost, and the cash shops look very similar… B2P is actually the worse deal. I don’t want to sound like I think GW2 is some huge rip off, but it certainly has more emphasis (promotions, exclusive items) on the cash shop than its predecessor, GW. It’s mostly cosmetic stuff and boosts, with the occasional unbreakable harvesting tool, puts a payment system on appearance changes and the wardrobe system (which old sub games that converted to F2P like EQ2 don’t even do) has the option to buy in-game currency with real cash, and locks content if you didn’t log in which can be payed to then unlock. None of these things are game breaking in the least, as a matter of fact, they’re very fair practices I’d be fine with seeing in F2P games… but with an upfront cost on top of that, I think it’s okay to at least question it. Of course, there’s so many unfair F2P games you could compare it to that make B2P + cash shop look amazing and I think when people say they want B2P they’re actually just saying they’d rather have an ESO/TSW/GW2 B2P system than a SWTOR F2P system – but there’s a whole lot of fair F2P between those.

RooWoods
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RooWoods

Picked up a copy today . I think it likely its headed to buy to play so I thought I would get in there quick while I can get it cheaply . Even if it does go free to play I will get to play it for a month prior to the release and usually you get lots of benefits like extra bag space and bank space etc . 

I warned several gaming friends of mine to get Elder Scrolls Online when a similar thing happened a few months ago when you could still pick it up for a tenner a couple listened the others have brought it since buy to play started at anything between 35 and 50 pounds .

syberghost
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syberghost

Evade2015 Werewolf Finds Dragon that kind of underscores the obsolete thinking going on in this game’s development; 10 years ago not allowing transfers from PvE to PvP servers was a thing. It’s not anymore. They couldn’t get their heads around this.

It’s exactly the same reason they stuck their heads in the sand about subscriptions, despite the entire industry telling them “hey, you’re repeating a mistake that has nearly shut down a bunch of companies, and successfully shut down several. Learn from our mistakes, don’t repeat them again, you’ll be a laughing stock”.

carson63000
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carson63000

Rozyn Koshelkin How does Gw2 “blur that line” between F2P and B2P?

Is it free? No. Do you have to buy it to play it? Yes. Where’s the blur?

carson63000
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carson63000

ManastuUtakata B2P probably would just mean abandoning their revenue stream totally. I’m pretty sure everyone who wanted to try Wildstar and was willing to spend money has already bought a box. At least with F2P they can dream of attracting new players who might potentially spend at the cash shop.

FineFineValentine
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FineFineValentine

I’ve been waiting this one out. I mean, I had hoped it would’ve been fine without people like me, but as someone who doesn’t have time for MMO’s much anymore, I just do not like the old subscription model. If this turns out to be true, I know I’ll be giving it a try for sure; either F2P or B2P.

Cure4Living
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Cure4Living

Well I’d definitely give it a try.

ClassicCrime
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ClassicCrime

fingers crossed for b2p

ClassicCrime
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ClassicCrime

DasBenty i find subs generally just more of a hassle, though i tend to spend quite a lot more in f2p games as well. subbing makes me feel like im not really capable of playing it just now and then like i typically do with mmos, if im paying monthly for it, its hard to justify playing anything else that i feel like playing, then typically thats when i unsub

DasBenty
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DasBenty

Strangely I don’t like subscription games but in the end I spend more money on F2P games than I do sub games :/  Think I’ve bought 5 SWTOR hypercrates now which is a lot more than a WoW sub

KirkSteadman
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KirkSteadman

Yessss! I have been waiting a long time for this. I absolutely love this game I just don’t have the time to play mmo’s enough to justify a sub fee anymore. I will come back for sure.

Evade2015
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Evade2015

Werewolf Finds Dragon You were on the PvP server which Carbine killed off 5 months ago. Carbine allowed free 1 way transfers from the PvP server to the PvE. PVE’ers actually would come over and try to poach players by offering them guaranteed raid slots

Took about a month for enough people to transfer over creating a “sky is falling, server is dead” panic. Then the mass exodus. 

About 2 weeks after the mass exodus, Carbine opened up PVE -> PvP, but was too late, damage was done.

Had you switched to the PvE server, you would have seen 1000’s of players

Zarkov
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Zarkov

This is NCSoft were talking about? They are just as likely to shut the game down completely than go F2P.

Lethality
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Lethality

grumpyoldcat Lethality skoryy Who’s in denial? Burden is on you.

grumpyoldcat
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grumpyoldcat

Lethality skoryy Yeah, keep living in that world of denial.

Enikuo
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Enikuo

I picked up a copy. I had been waiting for a sale. I tried the time trial, but I wanted a whole month to really try out the housing, which is my main interest in the game. I don’t know whether I’ll get a mystery box, since I’m not a current subscriber, but we’ll see. I’m happy just to get the discount so I can play now, even if it us headed to B2P or F2P.

Enikuo
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Enikuo

Yeah, but you also have to consider the content of those lockboxes. In other games, the mounts and costume would have been the high value, super low drop rate item in a box that has a ton of mostly useless boosters or such. The mystery boxes guarantee one of three items that would be the main draw in another game’s lockbox.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate lockboxes. I collect the keys and destroy Black Lion Chests in GW2 for petty spite. But, that aside, this promotion isn’t as bad as it looks at first glance.

syberghost
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syberghost

Enikuo that’s about four times what most games charge for a lockbox key.

Enikuo
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Enikuo

The boxes are on sale for ~$20 on Amazon & at Best Buy. And, the codes add 30 days of subscription time to the account. So, it’s only ~$5 for a mystery box, which guarantees you one of the mounts or the costume.
That said, I understand the annoyance at the deal as it’s aimed at current subscribers. It probably would have gone over better as a recruit a friend drive. And, it would also have been better had they made the items account bound and structured it so that buying 3 boxes guaranteed you all of the items, maybe as progressive unlocks.
I don’t really understand why games aren’t more generous with digital items for promotions like these. I know it costs money to make the stuff, but they paid to make it anyway. So, why not really leverage it to earn goodwill instead of restricting it like they do? I just don’t get it.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

Exactly what I mean. They just look good, but don’t go faster or anything.

Budukahn
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Budukahn

Wait wait wait…. have they just effectively implemented “physical” lockboxes?  At $30 a pop?  Seriously?

Pandalulz
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Pandalulz

breetoplay Lethality Oh man, I’d buy a bigger sky plot, just so I could keep hoarding things on it.  I’m running out of room in giant world.

Enikuo
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Enikuo

ColdinT I don’t know what you mean. Do you just mean they aren’t functionally better, like faster?

ColdinT
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ColdinT

And as far as I know, the mounts are purely cosmetic.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

I love all the people taking this rumor as a fact. Can’t we at least pretend to be speculative.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Werewolf Finds Dragon 
If they designed so whatever is in the cash shop can be earned ingame, then I’ll listen. As soon as they erect a cash shop wall it’s sleazy. Double so with lock boxes. And triple so with selling stat items.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

breetoplay Lethality 
If it’s making them money, highly unlikely.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

Cash shops don’t have to be sleazy, it’s all down to the business running it. It can sustain itself on content packs and customisation options for one to express oneself with. For example: Since when, exactly, was The Secret World’s cash shop unethical? It’s exactly as I said, and it’s even better. I was playing TSW and after a quest story arc, they gave me money to spend in the cash store.

I was genuinely vexed by this, I was so flummoxed that I had to check everything to ensure that I wasn’t going mad. A game that sustains itself on the cash store had just given me the means to get things from the cash store without spending money. I don’t even know how to deal with that. But that kind of generosity and lack of unethical behaviour were major bonus points for them, and thus TSW became one of the only MMOs I considered spending money on for cash shop items.

So it’s not the cash shop, it’s the company running it. If the cash shop is bad, the game will never be good, and you should just leave it to rot. TSW is proof enough that an ethical cash shop can exist. I just hope that ESO will follow suit.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Lethality skoryy 
You’ll need evidence to support this claim beyond the hopeful thinking. Just saying.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

Addendum: I will point out that in my time playing it, over the month I had, I think I saw only a handful of other players out in the world in the Dominion zones. It was worse than a ghost town, it was a graveyard. And this was on the American mega server. Sooo…

It was so dead that I actually felt at times like the server had broken, or that I was playing a poorly designed single player game. I hadn’t seen anything like it since Warhammer Online.

Werewolf Finds Dragon
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Werewolf Finds Dragon

Not surprised. It was trying to be WoW 2.0 and had no population whatsoever due to that. It had so many outdated things to it — oversexualised characters, open world bosses, huge raids, and  it just didn’t work. I recall awhile ago I told me beau that this game was going buy to play, soon. First there would be free weekends (which happened), then there would be a promotional event (which happened), then the stock would be recalled (which happened), and there’d be a last, ditch, desperate attempt to make some money on it in a big buy to play campaign.

Anyone with even a little common sense could’ve seen it coming, really. I’m not special. I’m just logical and perceptive. All the hallmarks were there to be seen if you had the mind to see them. It’s a game that could never survive. It was trying to court away WoW’s population, and you just can’t do that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only way to make a successful online RPG these days is to go for the co-op RPG. Have most things instanced and concentrate heavily on the story being told, the depth of the world, and the options and agency provided to the players. ESO got a lot right in this regard, but it could still do more to make it an even greater success (such as providing options to make public dungeons instanced to the team, solo dungeons instanced to the team, and fully embracing the co-op narrative-driven RPG that it wants to desperately be).

I think ESO is a look into the future of the MMO space, and what needs to be iterated upon in order for further successful games to be developed. No more exploitation, stash the unethical brain rot and develop a game that groups of people want to play. Offer them content packs and methods of self expression for money and you’ll have more profits than you know what to do with. And market it that way so we all know. If it hadn’t been for ESO’s buy to play campaign, I’d never have known its true nature.

But yes, Wildstar was doomed from the start. The extroverted peer pressure system of leashing people back in and providing barriers to exit, that kind of social engineering can only work for one game at a time, because everyone is going to congregate there. You can’t make another WoW until WoW itself chooses to die. Even Blizzard realised this when they cancelled Project Titan to concentrate all their efforts on WoW. Until WoW goes the way of the dodo, you won’t see another game like it. WoW can’t have competitors, it can only have successors.

And individuals like myself, more autistic/introverted types don’t fall for those hooks in the first place. So what we want is very different. If you want us, then you have to make games which are enjoyable to play. Want to keep us around? Tell different stories. Have choice & consequence that locks out content and invites replay with alts, or just have the content divided into factions a la ESO. Then sell further content packs to keep us interested. If we’re not flooding your servers to play, that’s a good thing for you, anyway, since you won’t need to keep all your servers running all the time. In lulls, you could probably take some of the instances offline. Everyone wins.

It’s just a matter of waiting for businesses and marketing to catch up. It’s been more than a decade now… maybe within the next few years, maybe?

Spacejesus3k
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Spacejesus3k

syberghost Spacejesus3k yeah, because pay 2 win and real money gambling aren’t a gimmick.

Vexia
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Vexia

Rozyn Vexia Cindy_Adorkly dirtyklingon Darthbawl BigMikeyOcho Budukahn Just like those AOL free trials.

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