Wildstar Goes Free-To-Play In The Fall

Wildstar Goes Free-To-Play In The Fall

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!


  • I thought Wildstar was pretty damn fun, just didn’t have time for it. I’d probably give it another go if they released a Mac client.

    • it was alright for awhile. If its free, I would say play it for a few weeks and see what you think.

    • I agree with @wiz1974
      It was fun, but had some issues over time with keeping me interested
      The reaction timing required to avoid certain damaging moves is not kind to high latency players
      On my screen I was clearly out of danger yet was still hit

    • I’d say so. It definitely will be when it goes free. There’s a lot to recommend it, but it does seem a bit like every good point comes with a down-side.

      Great art design (in my opinion), and an interesting story, but it took a while for me to get familiar with it all. There’s a surprising amount of freedom in some of the possible class builds, such as a typical ‘rogue’ class that can viably tank. The attacks feel pretty great, it’s fun working out good combos of abilities, and there’s plenty of difference between the classes.

      Downside to that, is levelling’s a bit of a slog in places. Those ‘fun combos’ start to wear out their welcome when repeated so heavily. It really drags out some of its questing areas with padding. You’ll dramatically out-level many of the areas before you’ve completed the available quests, so it’ll drive the completionist in you nuts. The solo/duo play is very satisfying, though you won’t encounter much challenge in that space. Just grind.

      You will more likely encounter challenge in the dungeons/raids, but in Australia the unfortunate side of this challenge is that it’s less about skill in the game mechanics and more about skill in compensating for the clusterfuck of delayed wipe-tastic telegraphs. Be prepared to swear at dying from fire you totally were not standing in. This is not an International-friendly game, and the Oz server got taken offline pretty early in the piece.

      This is unfortunate, because Wildstar is(/was?) very proud of its ‘no n00bs allowed’ no-tolerance-for-mistakes raiding. Sadly, it incorporates some unfortunate relics of the rose-tinted BC WoW pro-raiding era, such as long, drawn-out attunements and large-group social organization/scheduling hell.

      The housing is an outlet for some really amazing creativity with just the right smattering of stat-bonus/boosts utility, but is also unfortunately tied to either RIDICULOUS currency-sinks or absurd requirements. For the average lowbie dabbler who is more interested in playing house than completing achievements, you might be frustrated at how limited your options are.

      It’s worth playing at least for a month or so. It’s just a shame at how little progress will probably be made in that time; a testament to its ‘for teh hardcoerz MMO’ ethos.

      • Well said
        Completely agree with all your points
        I played about 6 months from release and, this, 100% this

      • Agree with everything you said except attunements. I found them to be more of a skill check, anyone who couldn’t get silver on a dungeon wasn’t getting X-89 down let alone some of the later raid bosses.

  • I played for a couple of weeks when it was released. I found the gameplay interesting. The story and lore didn’t really click with me, though I felt the game had a lot to offer – at least considering that the initial hype was pretty much just marketing “awesomeness”. I’d certainly give it another go if it were free-to-play.

  • I feel like going Free to Play won’t solve the fundamental issues Wildstar has with its design.

    • At worst, it should at least provide the developers with a huge dataset on player behaviour to influence future development. A tonne of data to show them exactly where the players would rather be spending their time and where and why they’re not engaging with the game the way the developers intended. They’ll hopefully be catering to the new audience, rather than the hardcore niche that they couldn’t survive on with subs.

      (Edit: I mean, it’s great to cater to a niche… but in doing so, you’ve gotta be able to pay the bills. Obviously this wasn’t working out for them.)

      • I certainly hope so, it feels like they got tunnel vision when the set out to cater to the ‘hardcore’ but personally, I feel the player market changed from the hardcore raiding time Wildstar tried to emulate.

        Locking out most of your content to the majority of your player base just seemed silly to me.

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