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WildStar will become a free-to-play game this fall

WildStar has been out for almost a full year and it's definitely a game that's had its ups and downs. On the one hand, the MMORPG received critical acclaim at launch, garnering up a strong subscriber base along the way. However, it's also had a couple of issues, culminating in a series of layoffs back in October. But Carbine Studios has remained undaunted. They've rebounded to add substantial content to WildStar, issuing massive updates like Invasion: NEXUS that focus on shorter game sessions. The updates have been received well by WildStar's player base and now Carbine is looking to the rest of 2015 to help expand that base further.

As the next step in Carbine's ongoing effort to court new players, the studio has announced that WildStar will forego its monthly subscription model and go free-to-play this fall. All players will be able to level up to 50, acquire all Ampsand abilities, and participate in all dungeons, raids, adventures, shiphands, and PvP game modes. Likewise, all of the game's areas will be open for exploration for no charge.

The monthly fee will not go away entirely, but it will now be a much more optional idea. Those that continue paying the monthly fee will receive a number of convenience bonuses and XP boosts. Those players will also see boosts to their crafting, currency drops, items drops, and reputation. Paid members will also receive some additional cosmetic bonuses, like costumes and decor items. Further details on this subscription model will be revealed closer to the free-to-play transition.

The in-game store will also undergo a transition. All cosmetic items that are sold via NCSoft's NCoin currency will have equivalent items out in the world that players that can purchase with acquired play time. So while the option will be there to purchase these items with real money, those that have invested heavy time in WildStar will also have the opportunity to get these items, as a reward for their loyalty. One thing that will not change is that stat-boosting and power-based items will still need to be earned through gameplay and will not be sold under any circumstances.

So why wait until this fall to go free-to-play, rather than just go free-to-play right away? Carbine notes that they'll first have to prepare for the actual transition, which will be accompanied by the game's largest update so far. To prepare for an expected influx of new players, Carbine is looking to completely overhaul the early portions of the game by streamlining the tutorial and the opening missions. Veteran players will see player and item stats receive a similar facelift, with a more intuitive interface and new high-level options for those that have hit the level cap. All Amp slots will be unlocked, in an effort to make the game's Amp system easier to use. And finally, each and every one of the game's dungeons and open worlds will undergo a review and will all receive a challenge adjustment.

It's a tall task for Carbine, which is why the free-to-play update will run through the Public Test Realm servers first. The developer acknowledges that if anything goes wrong, the estimated fall deployment date could get pushed back.

Carbine also acknowledges the need to provide an incentive to keep subscriptions active until the free-to-play transition. That's why users that maintain an active subscription from June 15 through the transition will receive exclusive items and bonuses. Carbine is also planning additional rewards for those that have maintained a WildStar subscription from the very beginning. More details about those rewards can be found on the WildStar website.

Carbine is fully aware that the WildStar fanbase will have more questions about this transition, which is why the team will take to Twitch this Friday, May 29 at 10AM PDT to provide additional details. WildStar is available now on PC.

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