Looking Back: On This Day Six Years Ago, Wildstar Went Free-to-Play
I miss the plucky MMO, do you?
It seriously doesn't feel like it was that long ago, but yes...the headline is accurate: on this day 6 years ago, Wildstar went F2P. Launching on June 3rd 2014, the MMORPG from Carbine Studios and NCSoft only made it slightly over a year with its inital launch subscription model and made the leap to F2P on September 29th, 2015.
If you remember, and I sure do, the game came with some "hardcore" angles in play...in fact the team rode those angles pretty hard. Miss the days of long attunement quest chains? We got'em. Raids that need 40 players (and a smaller, mere 20 person version)? Also check! Dialogue, quests, and stories geared towards an older audience who, like many of the employees at Carbine, had cut their teeth years ago on Blizzard's World of Warcraft and pined for the MMO days of old? That's here, too! In fact, a big portion of Carbine's staff had in fact worked on WoW and working on something new was the entire point of starting Wildstar back in 2005.
By the time the game came out though, launching with a subscription was slightly ill-advised, and even the heavy push towards hardcore was probably ill-advised, too. True, through the C.R.E.D.D. system you COULD play for free (as long as SOMEONE was paying cash for C.R.E.D.D. to sell you), but much like the way this type of system is used in EVE and WoW, generally speaking, most people just pay the sub.
Free-to-play is a very common option these days and back then it was actually on the rise in the West quite a bit, so it was slightly surprising that an unknown IP from an unknown company was going to jump into the pool at the deep end.
I remember traveling, on NCSoft's dime, to San Francisco to meet with the team at Carbine, including then Producer and President of Carbine Studios Jeremy Gaffney, and enjoying what I played, but asked during my private interview time if the focus on 40 person raiding and all the other "maybe rose tinted views of MMO eras gone by" was the way to go. The company seemed so sure of it. It's what THEY wanted, so there MUST be many others that did...but were they going to be willing to pay for it?
Well, pinning it ALL on the payment model isn't fair. Wildstar had quite a few issues including PvP that got very messy with telegraphs, queueing issues, a lack of a reason to really do things like dungeons once you beat them once, and a wild mismanagement of servers spinning up and down after launch. I don't have to rehash that for you though, Nerdslayer does a great job of giving you all the details in his "Death of a Game" video if you're feeling nostalgic.
Fast forward, though, and I kind of miss Wildstar. Yeah the art style was going to be hit or miss (I liked it), the hardcore focus was a mistake, and maybe some of the game was WAY more over the top than it needed to be, but damnit, I was rooting for the colorful, amusing, and plucky little title.
Wildstar may have just been a small blip on the MMO radar, but I enjoyed things like Paths and the combat, and I LOVED the player housing...even if questing was a bit stale and way too long.
It wasn't here long, but WIldstar certainly left some memories!
Got a Wildstar memory to share? Throw it in the comments below!
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About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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