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

Carbine Studios has announced that WildStar will go from a subscription-based MMORPG to a free-to-play MMORPG this fall. And that transition will be accompanied by the game's biggest update since its launch.

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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.

Senior Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    May 28, 2015 6:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, WildStar will become a free-to-play game this fall

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 6:22 AM

      I, for one, am SHOCKED. Shocked, I say.

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 10:31 AM

      This game was awesome on release and lots of fun. Extremely challenging, ZeeJay and I were in a guild that didn't have the player skill to exceed in this game. Hopefully the free to play will bring more and they balance it so casuals won't be turned away.

    • Zek
      reply
      May 28, 2015 12:23 PM

      I wonder if there will ever be another MMO that sets the world on fire the way WoW did, or if the genre is just fading away. It seems like times have changed and people just aren't that interested in online game worlds in general anymore.

      • reply
        May 28, 2015 2:44 PM

        I am sure they will come back in time, just no more theme parks for sure.

      • reply
        May 28, 2015 3:04 PM

        Just last year WoW was back up to 10 million right? I wouldn't say that people aren't interested in MMOs, but rather the population is now spread over dozens of F2P games and we have things like MOBAs vying for our attention as well.

      • reply
        May 28, 2015 3:51 PM

        People are totally interested in online game worlds. They're just tired of the WoW formula. The genre will rebound whenever someone comes up with a genuinely new formula (or an unexpectedly significant improvement in quality -- it's worth noting that all of the MMOs following WoW have been worse than WoW in a lot of ways).

      • reply
        May 28, 2015 5:46 PM

        Not with current tech. I could easily see a well executed VR solution taking the world by storm though. Also I'd argue that WoW would have never taken off like it did if it didn't have the name of the dev, and game series behind it. Launch WoW was as if 70% Asheron's Call and 30% Everquest were put into a blender.

        • reply
          May 28, 2015 6:00 PM

          Launch WoW was basically a hella polished Everquest. I remember how strong that feeling was was the first time I played the beta. I never played AC, but from what I know of it, I don't really see how you'd get to a "70% AC" conclusion?

          • reply
            May 28, 2015 6:32 PM

            WoW borrowed heavily from the AC UI. World design is another, and I even want to say the skill tree setup, along with the single player focused open world.

            On the EQ side it had the rigid classes, and leveling system to support grouping for dungeons, and raids, unlike AC.

    • reply
      May 28, 2015 2:29 PM

      This was painful to see on a quick gmail search.


      Wildstar [Online Game Code], Price: $59.99

      • reply
        May 28, 2015 3:05 PM

        It was half price on Amazon and GameStop for a good while. I'd expect someone to have it on sale again really soon.

        • reply
          May 28, 2015 5:25 PM

          it... was how much I payed , I did it with elder scrolls online. I'm a sucker for MMOs