Big WildStar news for a jump-started Monday morning

credd-enWe got two big pieces of WildStar news this morning: the reveal of the game’s business model and the announcement that it won’t make a 2013 release.

Let’s start with the latter first.  I’m not surprised.  I’m really not surprised.  After so many years, you start to get a feel for how far out a game is based on tells like what the company’s revealed, beta size and progress, word of mouth from testers, and if we’re able to pre-order or not.  I always thought that it was highly ambitious to try to make a 2013 release and said that if that was going to happen, the game had to be a lot more done than we were being shown.  But the pace of how the testing and reveals were going gave me a mid-2014 feel, and I guess this is going to be the case.

Some will say that this is a bad sign, that Carbine had to put on the brakes because of a horrible beta so far and is scrambling to fix stuff.  Who knows, but I don’t think this is the case.  It definitely is due to the beta, though, but probably more like this first-MMO-studio is realizing that there needs to be a lot more testing after seeing the feedback and tweaks that it’s made so far.

I’m a little bummed at the move, sure.  That doesn’t really leave me with any big MMO to anticipate for the rest of this year, but I quickly remind myself that what I’m playing right now is (a) fun and (b) more gaming than I actually have time for.  And considering that 2012 was such a huge year for new MMOs, having a “down” year is acceptable.

So how about that business model, huh?  Despite the excess of words used to announce it, it’s a subscription-based game with the option to buy and sell subs in-game to other players (a la EVE Online’s PLEX).  I wish you could see me right now, because my response is pretty much summed up in my pursed lips.  This is not terrible.  But it’s not great, either.  Free-to-play or buy-to-play is the standard in the industry now; sub-only is an anomaly.  It’s going to make a lot of gamers evaluate whether or not they’re willing to hop back on the subscription train once more.  It’s also going to cause players to be a LOT more critical of WildStar while approaching it: “Is this really worth a sub?”

It’s obvious that Carbine/NCsoft is setting WildStar up to be a premium game, through and through, and I guess that this is a testament to their confidence.  Of course, the instant comeback to this announcement is: RIFT.  TERA.  SWTOR.  The Secret World.  Running sub-only games in this day and age isn’t a long-term model, it’s a quick cash grab before turning to the inevitable F2P transition (which, of course, could be Carbine’s strategy).

I’m OK with paying a sub, especially since I’m not really doing so right now anywhere else.  And $15 a month is getting to be more and more of a steal as time goes on, what with inflation and everything.  But I do kind of wish that it wasn’t going this route.

The “amazing” factor in all of this is the addition of CREDD, the item that contains a 30-day sub and can be bought for real money and sold for in-game cash (or just used).  I’m not overly familiar with the ins and outs of PLEX’s effect on EVE, but it seems to be widely used and I know some folks are happy that they can play for free if they have the in-game funds for it.  But CREDD doesn’t solve the problem of roping players back in once their sub has lapsed and they’re no longer in the game any more.  It’ll give some gamers another option to pay their subscription or raise quick in-game funds, but I don’t see it as a radical move.

Plus, with the way the typical MMO economy goes, won’t buying CREDD get more and more expensive as time goes on?  I mean, that’s certainly the case for GW2′s gem exchange (I can’t be the only one who wistfully remembers the time when the price was well under a gold).  So come a year from now, how are new players going to be able to earn enough currency in that first month to buy a CREDD as suggested by Jeremy Gaffney?  They won’t.  It’ll be sub or… sub.  At least until it goes F2P.

While this all is big news, it’s not really rocking my world one way or the other.  Now if Carbine will spill the beans on a collector’s edition, then I’ll be all ears!

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9 thoughts on “Big WildStar news for a jump-started Monday morning

  1. The business model announcement has kind of killed what little interest I had in this game. I just don’t have any patience left for sub models — it’s just not compatible with the way I like to approach gaming these days.

  2. I am not sure if CREDD can rank as “amazing” at this point in time since we have had PLEX in EVE and Krono in certain SOE games for a while now. Still, it is interesting to see another game venturing into the “finance your subscription with in-game cash” options.

    Yes, things like CREDD will likely get more expensive over time, but that tends to reflect the state of money and inflation in the overall game economy. If done right, CREDD will always be a desirable item, and a consumable, so there will always be demand for it. As players accumulate more wealth over time, they will be more likely to spend more on CREDD and the price will rise. So the day one CREDD price should be a lot cheaper than the price at the end of the first year, simply because there won’t be enough money in the economy on day one to support a higher price.

    I look forward to somebody doing some investigation on how many hours of play a player needs to devote to farming currency in order to pay for his or her subscription.

  3. My interest in WildStar has already dropped so low that I’m not even certain I’ll buy it at launch. The announcement of the payment model certainly doesn’t make that any more likely. I also think that using any form of payment model that is confusing or remotely hard for people to grasp is a very, very bad idea.

    I don’t have a problem with subs. I pay my All Access just because I like to be a member of the club and I’ll be paying my FFXIV sub soon as well. (And I bet FFXIV doesn’t go F2P. FFXI is still purely subscription, isn’t it?). What I have a problem with is paying a subscription for an MMO I’m on the fence about at best.

    As for the release date, good. With FFXIV now, the EQ2 expansion in October and Everquest Landmark “this winter” this year’s already booked up.

  4. I’m actually willing to pay a subscription fee on a month-to-month basis. If the game is worth my time, it’s worth the $15. I’m less willing to pay $60 (well, $45 plus the $15 for the first month of game time) for the right to pay a subscription fee in the future on a product that I have yet to play. Thus, the bigger issue becomes how to determine whether the game is worth my time. Not having a free trial at launch (referrals only) does NOT help them in this department.

    Between the likelihood that extreme discounts will be available from some outlet somewhere within months of launch, the certainty that the game will be improved through patches and bugfixes during that time, and the probability that there will be server population issues (read: merges – have they said whether they intend to monetize the process of getting off of a dead server after they opened too many on day one, like most other MMO’s not named Rift?), it’s increasingly hard for me to justify ever jumping on a game at launch anymore.

  5. Pingback: [WS] Business Cred | Kill Ten Rats

  6. Pingback: WildStar: Down to Business | Mana Obscura

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