So the announcement has come out that Wildstar will be going free to play (F2P) this Autumn (no specific date yet). There’s been a couple of articles already addressing this on Massively OP and lots of forum discussion also.
I’ve been watching the speculation over a probable free-to-play conversion for some months; we’ve had the news of the boxed game’s withdrawal from stores in Australia and the poor financials in NCSoft’s quarterly results to point the way to this probable course of action.
Carbine emailed me back last October with two free trial codes – a “bring a friend back with you” offer for an ex-beta player. Back then I had no extra time or real interest in jumping back into the game. Now my gaming mix has changed and my desire for something to slot in alongside Final Fantasy 14 (my current ‘main’ MMO) has me ready to give the game a second go. It so happens I’m unlikely to get any game time in The Secret World for the next couple of weeks so Wildstar it is!
As with previous recent free to play conversions (e.g. Tera), the developers are looking to reward those who have played or subscribed in the past. If you buy the game and sub for the remaining months before F2P conversion there’ll be some material benefits in-game upon conversion (this Carbine news article mentions a housing item and a non-combat pet plus some months of subscriber benefits). Until we know when the game is actually converting this leaves a bit of a question over whether and when in particular to jump on board. Looking at the comparison table between F2P and subscriber accounts (called Signature – see the above linked Carbine page) there’s nothing particularly onerous about the F2P experience, they seem to have gone for the “positive benefits to subscribing” route, like Tera did, rather than “hamstring the freeloaders” route that other earlier games went.
I’m tempted to buy the digital edition of the game regardless of my experience of trying the game again as that’ll give me the extra thirty days to get further than before and to see later content and the housing system. Free trials for MMOs are generally too short to give me a good impression – especially since I’m normally playing the game alongside other games. I’ll be revisiting my beta impressions posts once I’ve played a couple of sessions on the free trial to consider whether the game has addressed the issues I felt it had prior to launch.