To the surprise of very few, WildStar – Carbine Studio’s colorful MMORPG – is going free to play. The transition to the new model is scheduled to take place this fall and according to the developers the game won’t change or hide features behind a paywall once this occurs. This is better than the likes of Champions Online, who flaunts features and options that you can’t access without paying, but rather than go the Guild Wars 2/Elder Scrolls Online model with an upfront game purchase, WildStar is going to follow more in the tracks of Star Wars: The Old Republic and go completely free to play.
I have played WildStar, and while it is actually a lot of fun, it isn’t terribly memorable for me. The action sits somewhere between Guild Wars 2 and Tera with a visual style that is reminiscent of World of Warcraft in that it has a colorful, cartoony feel. I felt the visual and audio presentation to be a little over the top, what with the crazy announcer yelling when you level up and the splashy, garish interface. My biggest gripe is that the game never really had a feel of its own, so it isn’t real surprising to see it losing the subscription model, and with that barrier gone more people should give Wildstar a try because it is fun to play.
Carbine Studios is planning a number of loyalty-based rewards upon going free to play based on a player’s tenure. There will be one set of rewards for people who have played but let their subscriptions lapse, another for those who subscribe from now until the transition and another for those who have kept their subscriptions from when the game launched. Once free to play, Wildstar will include the now-standard in game store for cosmetic and convenience items.
With WildStar going free to play along with The Elder Scrolls Online earlier this year, have we seen the last of the subscription-based MMO? Only time will tell for sure, but one can certainly hope so.