WildStar is going free-to-play this autumn

Critics, current players, former players, people who had briefly heard about the title from friends and family – a lot of people didn’t think that WildStar could keep its subscription model forever. The question, for most observers, was when it would go free-to-play, not whether. But Carbine Studios has remained silent on the subject… until now.

Yes, WildStar is going to be transitioning to a free-to-play model this fall. And we do mean free-to-play, not buy-to-play; you’ll be able to download and play the game without paying a cent, whether you’ve purchased a copy in the past or you have never played a day in your life.

At a recent press event in California, I sat down to talk with product director Mike Donatelli and creative director Chad Moore about the transition, the team’s overall plans, and what it all means for the game’s past, present, and future players.

Moore and Donatelli began by outlining the ways in which the game has changed over the past several months, walking back through the game’s past several patches. Both of them argued that the driving force behind the updates has been how the devs have listened to player feedback and changed course based upon it. It surely won’t be a surprise to many of our readers that one of the most regular pieces of feedback was that the monthly subscription was a major barrier to entry for would-be players.

And that compounded the fact that there was no easy way to show that the game had changed if players weren’t able to join and play seamlessly. With the monthly barrier in place, people had an image in their head of what the game was like, and regardless of whether or not that image matched the reality, that was how people thought of the game. The team was patching up the game, but folks on the outside just weren’t seeing it.

Free-to-play, Donatelli and Moore now say, solves both problems neatly. Players who have stepped away from the game for whatever reason can jump back in and see how things have changed, players who have never played before can judge on their own rather than listening to secondhand opinions, and players who are already happy subscribers can continue to enjoy the same game — only, you know, with a more robust playerbase and loyalty rewards.

You didn’t think they forgot about loyalty rewards, did you? There will totally be loyalty rewards.

Players who have been subscribed from launch to the free-to-play launch will gain a special mount and title, while everyone who subscribes between June 15th and the free-to-play launch in the fall will receive four months of Signature service, a title, a new companion pet, and a new bit of housing decor. In addition, former and current players will be rewarded through the game’s loyalty program; you can find out some of the early details now and keep your eyes peeled for more.

You can also get lots of guns, yes. If you must.If the free-to-play transition alone isn’t enough to entice you, take heart because autumn will also see another major update for the game, with stats and the new player experience both getting streamlined and overhauled. Players can also look forward to a rebalancing of open-world content and dungeons to fall a little more on the “difficult” side rather than the “hopelessly brutal” side. Oh, and at long last, all Amp slots will be automatically unlocked, which negates that particular barrier to building your character.

If you needed to be told that the game will have a microtransaction currency, you might be a little new to the whole free-to-play routine. Players will be able to purchase Ncoins and use them to purchase outfits, dyes, and other cosmetic items, along with convenience items like XP enhancements. Power will not be sold, Donatelli and Moore insist; you may level faster, but you won’t get extra power for money.

You can also purchase a membership for various perks, but none of those perks includes content access. New players and constant subscribers alike will have complete access to all content in the game, no matter what. Membership means additional character slots, costume slots, decor items, and the like, but it will not mean unique access to content.

We don’t know all of the details about the shift yet, obviously, but we’ll have time to test it all out. Moore and Donatelli told me that the free-to-play shift will land on the game’s test servers first, so players can thoroughly break it ahead of time. The transition is currently slated for sometime this fall, depending upon testing.

It’s a big shift for the game, but is it enough? Is it important? You should keep an eye open for someone who has a bunch to ramble on about regarding this shift later this morning. (Spoiler alert: It’s me.)

Disclosure: This information was obtained at a press event in California; travel, lodging, and most of the food was provided by NCsoft. Yes, it was the same event as last week. I also did get some swag, most notably a USB power charger for my various devices. It’s a cool little device; I’m rather fond of it. I played a bunch of Shovel Knight on my trip. I’m rather fond of that too.
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progshine
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progshine

Zeplini Not really a smart comment. But anyway…

jeremy2020
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jeremy2020

This is shocking news. I don’t think anyone was expecting this.

Professor K.
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Professor K.

Since its going to F2P, i’ll give it a whirl. I played during beta but couldnt justify the full price costs at the time..

chosenxeno
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chosenxeno

JcsP Oh no! How will the game survive without you…..

Mister Tuggles
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Mister Tuggles

Zeplini 
 Then you should probably pack your bags up, and move to single player RPGs. F2P is here to stay. The majority of games that will be coming out will likely be b2p or f2p with cash shops. Hell, even the sub games have cash shops or purchasable add-ons of some sort now.

 As far as f2p model “nickel and dimming you”: You quite literally don’t have to spend a single dime in 99.9% of f2p games. All cash shop items are typically able to be traded. The entire premise of cash shops is that you either spend your time in game grinding coin to purchase items from cash shop users, or you spend your time irl grinding at work to purchase cash shop items with real money. They don’t force you to spend anything. However, they do force you to decide if you are willing to spend your time, or your money to get certain things you “need”.

JcsP
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JcsP

Is this article where we should drop the “We told you so!”?
Still not jumping aboard the wrecked train, even with free tickets.

Schlifer
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Schlifer

I had the good chance of playing this game during its beta phases, it was fun the combat different, and i could not do as i do with many standard MMO´s split screen it with a tv show as i grind it out, yet the game offered those paths, and i found them all equally fun especially explorer/scientist, more so scientist as i love knowing more about…. yeah everything, and the planet nexus had a lot to be explored so to speak as a scientist, especially exploring the story behind the eldan, i did not manage far but i loved it, at the end of the day i just dont have the time to game a lot, most of my day i go to work and by the time i get back from work i add a training routin.

Jogging for the sake being healthy and increasing my oxygen uptake as well as to be able to last longer, then at some days i workout strength-training, combined with other duties i scrape together a few hours a day monday to friday excluding weekends, and for me as i have so little time leftover i wont be getting the full value for a monthly sub, as i play so little i just cant see a value in paying monthly when i get to play so little, but thats just how it is at my end and we all have our versions of life and issues as well as opinions towards this.

Cash shop is bad, it is stupid, it lets everyone in even the disgusting casual….for me it is freedom, play when i want, it is on my terms, and if i feel like it ill drop a dime or two to get some cool looking outfits, will i be limited in bag space? will i be limited in character slots? probably yes, but who knows i might get so invested that i even might go subbing even if it did not have the same value before, my opinion changes, maybe, perhaps, there is a chance at least. 

I have been waiting for this F2P conversion for quite some time as i saw that the potential for customization during the beta, and i await eagerly to explore nexus and take as much time as i want with no taxi-meter telling me “You got 12 days left to explore nexus.” 

This is just an opinion and i understand if there is some who do not share it, as i am not here to launch an argument for f2p, just some insight for anyone curious.

chosenxeno
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chosenxeno

TheJewishMerp 2014 was bad for Gaming in General.

chosenxeno
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chosenxeno

_Ariel_  I feel like I have more control over the mouse when I can hold Right Click. Maybe you Palm Grip though. I’m a Claw Grip.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

Zeplini well, its either this or the game shuts down :(

Zeplini
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Zeplini

Another game with a stupid cash shop in your face, and please stop calling these games FREE TO PLAY when they cost you more than a subbed game, if you like costumes? you pay!, if you want more bag space you pay!, xp boost?, extra content then you pay! want progression? you pay and pay me now!

i hate the free to play model, its nothing short of nickel and dimming you, no? then check out swtor, im done with this  payment model of mmo it totally sucks!

goettel
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goettel

Nreff The Force is with that one though.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

_Ariel_ Agreed, I wish that was an option in the default game since i despise addons.

wjowski
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wjowski

TheJewishMerp 
Good.  The entire industry needs to be smacked with a rolled up newspaper and then have it’s nose shoved into the mess it’s made.

_Ariel_
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_Ariel_

Protip: use the 10 day trial to create 3 characters now cuz once f2p beta starts you can only make 2 for free ;)

_Ariel_
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_Ariel_

It’s a totally different game once you have a mouselook addon running to make it action rpg.
I don’t understand why these mmos are so stupid as to not include that from day 1.

toomanywowclones
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toomanywowclones

745 comments good lord

KirkSteadman
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KirkSteadman

Yes I will definitely play this game again. I loved a lot of things about this game, especially the group pve content, but I have had a bit of mmo burnout this past year so paying a sub and only playing once a week was in my opinion not a viable way to spend my money.

rioinsignia
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rioinsignia

Well, this goes down in my 2015 diary as the least shocking revelation of the year.  I may try it if I find myself completely bored out of my skull, but given some of the games I’ve recently purchased I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

Sinaptic *shrug* The leak was super vague and mainly just said things we all knew or speculated about anyway. Considering all the people in these comments that are claiming “they called it”, not going to put much credit in that leak being right.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

AvatarOP dirtyklingon Really depends on what you want to do I think.

Leveling up can be a fun solo experience, and those zones are not complete ghost towns. Even on Farside, I’d still see a player here and there.

AvatarOP
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AvatarOP

dirtyklingon well, if you want to resub “now” its because you have a high level character. if you plan on starting from scratch or only have a low level toon, i would wait for the f2p beta at least. current low level zones are not really active, pvp server is kaput, and so many cool updates will come with f2p.

thats an advice from a Wildstar fan.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

dirtyklingon ihatevnecks SoMuchMass Celestia Guilded characters, not total character counts. There are also other Lodestone mining sites like http://luckybancho.ldblog.jp/archives/43689452.html which count only active characters, representing those being logged into with a minimum level and whose Lodestone profiles are showing active changes (mounts, minions, levels). Also viewable server-by-server here http://luckybancho.ldblog.jp/wsurvey_en.htm
I’m not sure you even bothered to read the post. I never claimed these were official numbers. However, they’re more reliable than SMM’s baseless “Japan carries it” as all evidence is actually pointing to the contrary.

wjowski
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wjowski

bassface212 wjowski 
Tell you what, if you’re still around this time next year for when we’re all commenting on ‘Is Wildstar On NCSoft’s Chopping Block?’ then you can tell me how little I know of the game’s current state.

Tridus
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Tridus

LilyCheng wjowski Something can be multiplayer without also being “go home scrubs, this endgame is for the hardcore only.”

Gangrel
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Gangrel

RicharddeLeonIII ihatevnecks wjowski AdeptusEnginus LilyCheng The NCsoft financial reports are all about *revenue* and not profits especially when they refer to a game.
They have never directly said how profitable (in monetary terms) that a game is. Their reports don’t cover that part.
And yes, revenue is different to profit.

_Ariel_
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_Ariel_

2015 as well imo.

wolfyseyes
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wolfyseyes

It sounds a lot to me that these are being talked down a fair bit. Obviously this is dependent on how galvanized the actual playerbase is.
To that point, personally, I plan on actually participating the PTR tests for once (never have prior) in order to provide as much feedback as possible. This is an important patch.

Sinaptic
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Sinaptic

breetoplay AvatarOP Madda BryanCo Lethality 
But how is that no different than what she did – 100% troll.

Sinaptic
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Sinaptic

breetoplay Vexia Madda MissingLynx Midgetsnowman thatchefdude 
she had a lot of levity and truth in what she said. Really sad.

Sinaptic
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Sinaptic

So the leak was bang on

TawneyRoberts
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TawneyRoberts

wjowski Totally agree, it could not last a year on a sub model which pretty much shows the quality of this game, but hey, good luck to all the Wildstar people.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

ihatevnecks RicharddeLeonIII wjowski AdeptusEnginus LilyCheng well, there was some anonymous sources about that…http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/3/feature/7015/City-of-Heroes-Profitable-or-Not.html.
Now i cant say how true it is, but there were similar reports around the same time.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Farg Sci-fi is defined by narrative taking place on multiple planets? Since when?

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

RicharddeLeonIII wjowski AdeptusEnginus LilyCheng Is that actually true though? Their 2011 and 2012 (pre- and post-F2P) remained pretty static, never going above 3% for overall quarterly sales. I think the only game that was ever lower was GW1. 
If they’re making the same F2P as they did during subscription, when the whole point behind F2P is increasing (or even just making) profit, can that really be considered a successful transition?

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

AdeptusEnginus omedon666 exeeter ComradeStanimir Not really sure that’s true, especially for MMOs, which have never been very big over there compared to mobile gaming.
As far as actual Japanese developed MMOs, PSO2 is probably the biggest one there outside SE’s Final Fantasy & Dragon Quest games, and it’s F2P. Wizardry Online launched as F2P there, as did Uncharted Waters Online years ago. Same for Shin Megami Tensei Online. Dragons Dogma Online is also launching as F2P :)
For the imports, NCSoft’s games that aren’t already F2P (like ArcheAge) were moved to it this year. BDO is launching there as F2P.
Overall SE seem to be the only ones either trying or doing very well with subscription MMOs for Japan.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

Well, I’m glad its free to play so I can resub again :)

Yes, you read that right, because now there might be more people to play with since a lot of the content i couldnt do was group based.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

wjowski AdeptusEnginus LilyCheng City of Heroes was actually profitable when it closed moreso than when it was sub based, more than enough to stay open.  NCsoft just decided to close it withour regard to its fans.

RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

carson63000

Muspel
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Muspel

SoMuchMass Celestia FFXIV was basically in the best possible situation.
Square Enix desperately wanted to salvage the game after the original, disastrous launch, because having a Final Fantasy game that was a flop was (at least from their perspective) a huge problem for their reputation. As a result, they gave the design team all of the time that they needed to make the game great.

On top of that, the IP they were using is arguably the best-known RPG franchise in the world.

Taken together, these are luxuries that no other AAA MMO has had in a very long time. Every major MMO release of the last decade or so has come out when it probably needed at least a few more months in development (and sometimes, MUCH more than that), because publishers and investors get understandable antsy when they’ve been waiting 5+ years with no return on their investment.

Rift is the only MMO I know of that arguably had enough time in development that it wasn’t in shambles at launch, and it had the problem of being a new IP and being VERY similar to WoW, despite the marketing the claimed otherwise. (I love Rift, but their pre-launch advertising campaigns… weren’t the best.)

FFXIV was incredibly polished when it relaunched, which is something that is pretty much unheard of. I mean, yes, the game was not without problems, and it’s still not for everyone (I personally don’t enjoy it at all due to the slow-paced combat), but it’s not just the Japanese playerbase that makes it successful.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

SoMuchMass Celestia Source? Considering they’ve never released actual sub counts or even active non-trial accounts in a regional breakdown, I’d love to know where you’re coming up with this.
The last time I checked XIVSoul, which someone made to count guilded characters through Lodestone, NA was higher than Japan. Granted this was last fall sometime before the site stopped being kept up, can’t filter out active vs. inactive accounts or bots (though I doubt any of them are guilded), I imagine it’s still a more accurate representation than the statement you seem to be pulling from your ass :)
EU has 7 servers and were at something like 700k characters
NA has 24 servers and were at nearly 2 mil
JP has 32 servers and were around 1.5 mil

bassface212
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bassface212

wjowski the fact that you think the raids are still 40 man means you know nothing about the state of this game at all

Loyheta
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Loyheta

Zarkov Fair points.

Loyheta
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Loyheta

playerxx I’m not talking about saving a game. I’m talking about my preferred payment method and why I prefer it.

carson63000
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carson63000

Mavere3 exeeter Even Final Fantasy XI is still up and charging a sub, isn’t it?

wjowski
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wjowski

AdeptusEnginus wjowski LilyCheng 
“F2P won’t save City of Hero-”
Oh wait, that actually happened.

carson63000
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carson63000

rottenrotny That’s the big reason why WoW isn’t going to go F2P. The goal is to entice new players who might like your game, but never checked it out when it had an initial cost. Is there anyone who plays MMOs that hasn’t already tried WoW?

carson63000
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carson63000

Joseph C ihatevnecks FFXIV is well done but it’s not for everyone. I found it tedious and didn’t last a month. But I wouldn’t have lasted any longer if it didn’t have a sub.

carson63000
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carson63000

ZachRohr AvatarOP exeeter BKone WoW does not make $112,500,000 a month and never has done. You need to look at the financials, not do your own shonky math.

carson63000
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carson63000

Lethality Judging by Wildstars financials, it seems that most of the people who paid for it found it pretty easy to throw away, too.

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