Carbine Studios is taking WildStar and overhauling the game with an all new free-to-play system. The game will forgo the subscription-based model and will instead sell optional items that can be purchased with real money or with a new currency earned in the game starting September 29th.
Over on the official Wildstar Online website Carbine Studios detailed how the game would be making the transition from a month-to-month fee to a cash shop oriented model where players can buy cosmetics, revival gear as well as boosts to help out with the leveling and adventuring in the game.
As mentioned on the Wildstar website, it's possible to hop into the beta before the official September 29th free-to-play conversion, and you'll even be rewarded for it...
“If you’re itching to come back and blow things up immediately in the period before the free-to-play conversion, you’ll earn Cosmic Reward points for the Cosmic Rewards program—and any leftover time when Reloaded launches will automatically convert to Signature service.”
Those who participate in the test before Wildstar makes the complete conversion will receive the free “Freelancer” title for their character after the re-launch of the game.
Quite naturally there are some gamers out there who are still pissed about the move from subscription to free-to-play because now it makes them feel as if all the money they put into the game on a month-to-month basis was a complete waste. Others feel as if the free-to-play move may have come a little too late to the party. Regardless, many felt as if Wildstar had a lot of potential.
However, this is kind of a standard for just about all previous subscription-based MMOs out there. The major problem is that they're competing in a market where a lot of gamers have to bide their time between real-life, other games and work. Unless the game offers the kind of depth, character customization and engrossing story content on par to games like Final Fantasy XIV or World of Warcraft or EVE Online, there's just no way that players are going to be convinced that the game deserves a monthly fee.
In the case of Wildstar, there have been some growing tensions between the core community and the developers over a couple of issues, including the end-game content and the required grind to finish said content. Unfortunately enough players took flight to cause NCSoft and Carbine to switch over to the free-to-play model.
Wildstar was one of those games where it got off to a really strong start and even managed to win over positive press from the gaming media when it first launched, but like a lot of other MMOs with growing pains it just couldn't keep pace with a subscription model.
Starting September 29th the game will officially embrace the free-to-play design and we'll see how well Carbine handles the title with microtransactions and a full-on cash shop. As history has dictated, just because a game goes free-to-play doesn't mean that it will succeed. But we'll see how well Wildstar adapts to the new monetary ecosystem at the end of the month.