I was interested in WildStar, Carbine Studio’s upcoming MMO (due Spring 2014) for it’s creative classes and unique appearance but whatever curiousity they had from me is now on shaky ground: they have announced that the game will be subscription based when it launches.
I want to know what prompted this. I don’t remember them ever saying that it wouldn’t be subscription-based, but I thought that model was proven to be just about dead when just about every MMORPG that launches with it eventually has to go free-to-play to hold on to any semblance of an active community. Personally I thought subscriptions were dead after Star Wars The Old Republic was forced to abandon them. Only older, long-established games (World of WarCraft and EVE Online spring to mind) can still get away with it.
Taking a page from EVE Online, WildStar will allow players to earn game time while playing, which I personally dislike. This means that you have to play constantly to earn the in-game play time increase, just so you can keep playing. WoW – especially early WoW – encouraged logging off and doing something else with resting bonuses, but WildStar is going to discourage taking a break by saying, “if you don’t want to owe us $15 next month, then you’d better log on and grind some more!” I really don’t like this decision – obviously – but it is what it is. Personally I love Guild Wars for it’s pricing model: you have to buy the full-price game, but there are no monthly fees. That makes the game feel like a game that I can play when I want to have fun and not a job I’m tied to every month.
We’ll see if this decision stands, and if it does, what effect it has on the game’s popularity when WildStar launches next year.