WildStar's Revenue Model: Can It Last?

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

WildStar isn't going to be free-to-play when it launches.

Of course, that won't stop people from speculating about when it will, because all subscription-based games that have come out over the last several years have either made the switch or wilted away into nothingness. And it's tempting to say that Carbine Studios plans to do so, after a few months of milking the sub market as well as box purchases.

I'm not sure I'm on board with that hypothesis, at least for this case.

The first comparison many people made was to EVE Online, which utilizes PLEX in a method similar to WildStar's CREDD, allowing players to essentially purchase game time with real-world currency and sell it for in-game currency. Alternatively, players can buy PLEX/CREDD with in-game currency and essentially never have to pay real money for their subscriptions.

PLEX has worked in EVE for nearly five years. Other games, like Rift and Guild Wars 2 have experimented with a similar “real cash/cash shop currency for in-game currency” exchange, but neither of those two games have a subscription, making such exchanges less common.

The difference, I think, between EVE and WildStar is in the core concepts of the game. EVE is many things to many people, but it seems to me that accumulation of material wealth is the major focus of a large chunk of players. Yes, players accumulate gear and gold in any MMO, but the “focus” of other games, if you will, seems to be more on killing monsters and on adventuring than strictly on loot acquisition.

Despite their multiple messages, I think WildStar has also been marketed as a “traditional” MMO, where you'll fight monsters, explore the world, do some PvP... and yeah, you'll get loot, too. But that's more of a side effect of the gameplay, rather than the primary reason to play.

In other words, there are people – a large number of them, I'd guess – who play EVE with the sole intention of amassing a fortune. Is WildStar set up to be the type of game where hardcore cash farming is a realistic and desirable form of gameplay? Truthfully, I'm not sure, but nothing I've seen about it indicates it will be.

It all depends on the exchange rate, but in that sense, I'd say it's likely we'll see relatively few “free” players of WildStar, who ruthlessly farm in-game cash so they can exchange it for CREDD. It's more likely that a non-farmer such as myself might accumulate enough to buy a month's worth of CREDD every now and then and feel like I'm playing for “free” at least a little bit.

I think that slight concession might be enough to keep WildStar from jumping onto the F2P ship for a while, and I really don't think the game is set up to be a “cash grab” type of game. I don't believe Carbine would have put as much thought as they did into the system if their intention is to scrap it a few months in. Virtually all other games that did a quick F2P turnaround were of the simple, “Pay a monthly sub, no other options” variety.

This isn't to say they won't, if the real-world economics dictate they must – and F2P must be lurking in the backs of their minds somewhere – but I think they truly believe this system can work for the long haul. Even though it might not be as viable or as attractive an option for its players than for its EVE counterparts, I think it offers enough variety that it should work for a while.

The Elder Scrolls Online, on the other hand? Free-to-play in a year, year and a half, tops.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (33)

a.j gildenhuys 9 years ago
the problem is that they want to release the same time as elders scrolls online and next year their are to many good mmo games,and the box is too expensive should be 40$.

nerito 9 years ago
OMG! so expensive 60$+sub this game is good but i cannot pay so mucho for this and i dont want even if i were rich

Eon 9 years ago
If your looking for a kungfu mmorpg, wait for the upcoming Condor Heroes Zero or Swordsman Online. Condor Heroes Zero would be the Chinese Kungfu version of Tera Online. Swordsman Online would be the upscaled version of Age of Wushu where Swordsman online focus alot on story and pve. Age of Wushu have everything revolving around pvp.

ExHuman 9 years ago
It can - for year or so
Its not long term model

Blainzx 9 years ago
I was really looking forward to this game but after reading through the post and the comment i have to said I agree with most people here. The idea of Sub payment for a monthly subscription is straight forward farm fest, people will pay more attention to what they can get in the end of the day instead of actually take time to progress through the game content. After Age of Wushu has fail me as I expect a traditional kung fu game like 9dragons but it just a bunch of crap that not even come close to a traditional mmorpg, I rather play runescape if I want to farm those life skill all day then go to wildness to get gang rape. Then this game and their stupid idea now i guess I just have to put my expectation on blade and soul even though it a P2P game, or GTA IV lol.

Bloom 9 years ago
Was looking forward to this game, but as always...a good game requires sub. I don't have the money to pay monthly for a game. Hope this game crashes and burns.

Jakoul 9 years ago
To be honest, I do not think this game will do well namely because of the art style and feel of it. It has some great features, but over all it seems more basic than generic Korean grinders with a super cartoonish style, on top of $60 to buy and $15 a month?

I'm not really sure who these game developers are making this game for. It has the features that could bring in adults, but they're packaging it in a way that will only appeal to little kids. It's going to be Rift/Tera/Secret World/Global Agenda (etc) all over again. It will be popular for a few months, maybe a even a year, but in the end they will make it f2p with some limitations for normal players or bonuses for subscribers.

It's really getting dull at this point, games that seem like they should have been released half a decade ago being hyped up and then everyone being surprised when said games sell poorly.. Also kind of sad that nobody has claimed the king of MMO title from World of Warcraft despite it being around for nearly a decade.

Are all developers idiots?

View 1 reply
Kitty 9 years ago
It's looking really good, am excited for the release of this game

At least payment wise your players are on an equal playing field. Unlike F2P games where people who have extra income whever ever it may come from have the advantage. As majority of F2P mmos offer something within their shop that can give their players an huge boost and smash the competition.

tolshortte 9 years ago
I have to say by looking at some of the replies I feel a lot of gamers have been sold a bad idea.

Some say they have no problem paying for ingame items such as cosmetics, which most likely will cost more than a sub by the time they are done, and this doesn't include mounts or any other add on.

but paying for a sub is out of the question? makes little to no sense to me. I get the box price + sub = bad opinion. I don't agree with it, but I get it.

the thing about gamers today that totally blows me away is a lot are willing to pay 50-60 for a 15-20hr game on rails, but think a sub at a quarter of the price for an ever growing game is somehow evil or extortionate. then often will mention how they own the game for that price while most will never play the game more than twice if more than once.

the idea of f2p is a great one and I support it whole heartedly. but until a good one is released that is actually free instead of the nickel and dime fest we are hit with daily, p2p cant be considered worse than f2p. not saying its better, both models have downsides. but it has to be at least on par.

View 1 reply
Reinou 9 years ago

I hate subs.

Even if I have the money I probably won't be playing the game since I don't like feeling forced to play the game to make sure I get my money's worth.

That and I play casually, and usually don't play games every day, so the days I don't play will just feel wasted.

That and I usually spend more money on F2P games.

If it ever goes F2P or B2P, I'll play it, but subs? No thanks.

There's already a bunch of upcoming games that are coming out that I'm going to be buying.

Playstation Plus costs the same amount as a Wildstar sub, and it gives me a bunch of games for free, along with discounts, while WS is just one game.

InDaFaceGr 9 years ago
I thought it was going to be F2P oh.....(It was going to be great,great graphics gameplay) ULTIMATE FAILURE at least until it goes f2p.

Dub 9 years ago
Next fail Game -.-

ExHuman 9 years ago
Yeah, whatever. .
Since mmo never get that much attention as on launch time, it just want to get most cash from mmo-hungry audience. . no doubt, competition with other titles will turn Wildstar b2p/f2p after a year or so. Most sub games did that. F2p is just better model, cause give people freedom of choice. It brings larger audience, and simple rule is: more customers - more cash. And the larger audience gives company enough resources to equally support those , who pay and those who don't. Even if some of players are not willing to pay right now - who knows, they or their friends may still support the game in feature.
Sure, the model has its disadvantages, like it attracts more trolls, gold spammers, jerks to the existing ones. But larger community always have more people of any kind, so obviously, it will bring more decent, as well.

WillCN 9 years ago

tolshortte 9 years ago
im so happy about this. I hate being nickel and dimed in a game for cosmetics and mounts. in the end you end up paying more than a sub would cost anyways to have access to everything.

most mounts are 10-20 dollars or more.
almost every cosmetic item is 5 dollars or more. some are so outrageously priced its offensive.
not too mention the pay to access zones in some games
paying to access classes or races is a serious killer for me.
p2p totally eliminates the p2win argument

while SWTOR has taken its fair share of a beating from the mmo crowd, its better than 90% of the free games out there easily. most free mmo's just aren't that awesome. very few are good at all, they try and quick hit you before you quit.

b2p model isn't bad. but honestly, I didn't find GW2 all that fantastic. TSW is a decent game, but again not all that either. Defiance, I had more fun with that game than either of the other 2 b2p I mentioned, but have lost interest in it as of late.

for those willing to pay for their entertainment, then p2p is usually a better deal overall. I would like to see the box price be around 30-40 dollars tho I don't think thatll happen.

for those not willing to pay for their entertainment, then any payment model will scare them away. while some think this is a negative as far as impact on the game, I disagree. having players who don't help keep the game running or new content developed whining about how the game isn't how they like it to me is laughable. who cares what they think, they don't care enough to support the game in the first place.

-=WolverinE=- 9 years ago
C.R.E.D.D. is good in theory, but in practice I doubt it will play out differently than what we saw in Neverwinter. The more people trade, the less value gold will have which will translate to even more farming. Good luck with that.

Jooq 9 years ago
I was expecting F2P ) Well, at least B2P, but not a sub plan -.- And then read news about Elder Scrolls Online...Completely sad, and now flying in War Thunder with my sad face.

Reavermyst 9 years ago
Eh I wouldn't class those who pay subs as a particular demographic. As an EvE player, I honestly don't see a sub value in this title. The only reason I's pay for a PLEX is because I enjoy EvE immensely for it's SERIOUS gameplay that sometimes exercises the brain with it's complex mechanics.

Historically, The Sub Model hasn't beena very successful one with the release of recent titles like The Secret World and SWTOR, along older titles such as Lineage2. With highly anticipated FREE releases coming our way like Everquest Next/Landmark, NCSoft is going to have to go balls to the wall with this title and make it the best experience possible if they haev a hope of profiting from this model. Unfortunately, I'm banking on them failing and pushing the game into a free-to-play model, and when they do so, it will likely be a restrictive mess.

View 2 replies
TRB 9 years ago
It's stupid. A subscription fee is a pathetic excuse "because they need to keep making content".
If Arenanet can do it, why can't other Devs.

Mr.Heartless 9 years ago
In 2013, after tons of MMORPGS have failed for years to copy WoW's success, I think this is a huge mistake. SWOTR which is set in the Star Wars Universe, arguably the biggest commercial sci-fi draw in the world at the moment, failed after a year and had to go f2p and has done so with relative success. I do not see how the CREDD system is going to be sold to potential players. The market is not as old school and juvenile as it once was. You cannot ask people to pay the cost of a FULL GAME then expect them to pay from month to month to capitalize on their 60$ investment.

Games like The Secret World tried this and where are they now( down from b2p+sub to 30$ outright) and Funcom are no rabbits, their games are always at least decent. This is their first iteration of the title, and they are asking well above premium rate. If they shed the b2p portion, many will play it and the CREDD system will come into play alot more as people would potentially farm for their sub and (as I am assuming these people will STILL have a cash shop in this game) be able to use the money saved to buy some cash shop items.

When it fails and has to go f2p or b2p only, they will have to compensate the founding players or face outrage, much like when SWOTR transitioned and had to deal with the elitist jackass pioneer players in that game.

They put so much thought into this model but seemingly no common sense prevailed. I would have paid the 15$ for atleast one month to try it but now I'll wait for EQN or TES Online and not even glance at this farce ever again.

BullsI 9 years ago
Sub payment models would probably be a lot more successful if they weren't always attached to a $50-60 down payment.

View 1 reply
Padsoldier 9 years ago
There are no words how much I was looking forward to this game. Now a lot less so, I'm a lot more interested when will it go F2P. Playing a sub for a game was never my style, and probably won't be. Even if it can be purchased with in-game currency, the price for CREDD is about 50% more expensive than regular gametime, and there probably won't be too many of them around on the market, and the prices won't be affordable for a player like me. I really like what I hear from that game, every system (housing, CC, paths) seems really interesting, but the "hardcore game must be P2P" mindset isn't good. I just have to think of DotA2, Bloodline Champions, HoN, they're all somewhat hardcore, at least considered the hardest of MOBAs, yet they're all f2p (okay, BLC is quite dying, but the others are doing quite well).

Gomez 9 years ago
It is just a SF WoW with modern action-combat. Of course they choose a sort of sub fees. Well, I wasn't going to play it even f2p. Not my style anyway. So, whatever.

itzteajay 9 years ago
I think this is a great payment model for the players. This game has never been advertised to the "super casuals" anyway. Before I get deep into this I have to say that I am not a beta tester and I have not played the game at all... But I have followed it and researched as much as I can about it and everything they've pushed out shows that it is going to require skill to play... I honestly don't think they are going to as big of a population as people may believe granted in the MMO world population is a huge thing but from what I've seen carbine studios is comprised of the guys that love challenges in games... They don't want the players that are going to give up on a dungeon after 1 wipe... They want guys that can find a way through anything. The players that do this are the cash spenders in f2p games... The ones that dump hundreds of dollars in tera to get Alkehest lock boxes to + their gear to 12... If this game can really challenge the end gamers... The ones that carry the moochers that spend nothing in a f2p game... Then this game will thrive...

Zergxes69 9 years ago
I'm Actually happy about this..

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