Nexon exec Jon Jelinek reminisces about WildStar and World of Warcraft


Previous web designer on World of Warcraft and executive producer on WildStar (and now Nexon OC general manager) Jon Jelinek recently sat down for an hour-and-a-half interview with The Listening Game show to share his experiences on the various projects.

Jelinek was the man who was right there at the launch of vanilla World of Warcraft (and stayed up through Cataclysm, where he did art for the starting areas of the Goblins and Worgen). At that time, he got an offer for a better position on WildStar (which he starts talking about at the 16:30 mark). One interesting insight is that Jelinek said that there were at least two different versions of the WildStar IP before he even arrived there, as Carbine had rebooted the project twice before landing on the WildStar that we know at seven years into the studio’s lifespan.

For fans of the game, it might be heartbreaking to hear of the ultimate failure of Carbine’s tardy switch over to free-to-play. “Your first week, you gain a massive amount of revenue, and then it falls right off. Boom,” Jelinek said. “We saw a meteoric rise and then it fell — lower. It’s absolutely crushing.”

Looking for some inside scoop on the rise and the fall of WildStar? Treat yourself to the full video below!

Source: YouTube via Reddit

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Love listening to people in the industry talk about what they do and how they do it, so thank you for turning me on to Harken Interactive. Very interesting interview.

Poor Wildstar. It never quite clicked for me. Lots of creative ideas, but I think some of the art style and the whole “dude bro” vibe was a little over the top for me. What Jon said about it having many small problems that contributed to a lack of retention resonated for me. I was sorry to see it fail, though.

Oleg Chebeneev

Archaic quests design and cartoonish graphics were the reasons for downfall imo. Well maybe focus on hardcore raids too, but I didnt get that far.
Shame. I enjoyed the combat and space cowboy setting


I miss Wildstar. I was a huge fan since I got into closed beta and I was pretty crushed when it shut down, even though I had long since stopped playing.

It was just such a mixed bag. Questing and open world was casual and fun, while dungeons and raids were tailored towards appealing to the “hardcore” PvErs, but even the hardcores found it too frustrating at times. If you try to split your game that way, you’ll just end up appealing to no one.

I loved the art, the humour, the housing. Questing, challenges. All that stuff. But I also really love PvE, doing dungeons and raids. And they were so painful to do that I abandoned the game in favor of one that gave me both a pleasurable solo and group experience.


Unfortunately WS was a trainwreck underway even before launch. Poor design decisions and execution killed this game and doomed it to failure.

Suits and Investors . . . HARDCORE MMO and FFA FL PvP MMO both == FAIL

Please learn that lesson.


“Your first week, you gain a massive amount of revenue, and then it falls right off. Boom,” Jelinek said. “We saw a meteoric rise and then it fell — lower. It’s absolutely crushing.”

AFAIK Wildstar didn’t do enough for F2P to help save the game.

F2P means a lot of new players will try the game, but at the same time it also means all those players won’t have any buy in with the game and will leave at a hat’s drop if they don’t enjoy it; thus if it’s a game that is naturally capable of retaining players F2P can greatly improve the revenue going forward through sheer exposition to new players, but on the other hand a game that has issues retaining players will see even less of them remain. It’s why successful F2P conversions tend to come with hefty improvements to the new player experience, and sometimes even to progression as a whole, as it can’t be assumed anymore that players will keep playing just because they already purchased the game and are invested in getting their money’s worth of entertainment from it.


I just don’t think players ever forgave them for their going full on raidcore, cupcake with the game…even after all the backtracking. So I am not sure any model, how well it was executed, would of saved them at that point, beyond their creditors showing mercy – which they didn’t. /le sigh

Bruno Brito

It really wouldn’t.

I liked Wildstar a lot, but i found out that it suffered from something i call “GW2 Syndrome”. Where the game is advertised like the third coming of Jesus, and you figure out you’ll have a semi-sandboxy experience where the world is open-ended.

Then it launches and you realize how limiting really is.


Dang, I miss WildStar. It was my favorite MMO for quite a while.

Mikka Hansen

web designer on WoW -> executive producer on WS

And people still wonder why WS went south