Carbine Studios' sci-fi MMORPG Wildstar launched in June of 2014, bravely opting for a paid subscription model while more high-profile games were going free-to-play. They made it a year!
Announced by publisher NCsoft earlier this year, Wildstar will be stripping away its $US15 monthly subscription fee in favour of a free-to-play model that will hopefully drum up fresh interest in one of the PC MMORPG market's more unique settings.
"At the beginning of 2015, we outlined key points of focus for WildStar to help make this great game even better,focusing heavily on player feedback and bringing meaningful changes," said Mike Donatelli, product director, Carbine Studios via official announcement. "We continue to deliver on those points and feel strongly that removing the subscription cost will give everyone who loves MMOs, or just wants to have an incredible gaming experience, a chance to try WildStar."
Once Wildstar goes free, anyone who wishes to play can create a character, explore all areas, battle through every dungeon and participate in all activities on offer. Those who opt to pay a membership fee will gain access to special items not available to dirty freeloaders. The game will also be supported by a cash shop selling cosmetic and convenience items — Carbine says they won't be selling anything that aids in player progression.
Fans who have subscribed to the game in the past or maintain a subscription once the game goes free-to-play will be eligible for special item rewards, as detailed in a post on the game's website.
It's a great move on NCsoft's part. Wildstar has a really cool cartoon aesthetic and an excellent sense of humour (see the announcement trailer below), but what hope did a subscription model game based on an unknown original IP have in a market segment that couldn't support a Star Wars MMO made by one of gaming's most successful development houses?
Interested parties can sign up for the upcoming closed bet for the relaunch here. Thanks to reader Randy for reminding me this was happening!