WildStar publisher NCsoft has today confirmed rumors that WildStar will go free-to-play this fall.
NCsoft's ambitious sci-fi MMO WildStar had a fairly impressive launch for an MMO, but, as time went on, suffered the same problem almost every non-World of Warcraft MMO suffers - maintaining a solid playerbase. Rumors have been circling for quite some time now that the game was preparing to go free-to-play, and now, publisher NCsoft has confirmed those rumors, announcing that WildStar will be go free-to-play "this fall".
In a rather lengthy blog post, developer Carbine Studios explains exactly what the free-to-play transition means for both new and exisiting players. First up, it stresses that free players will have access to all of the same content as paying players. "Every zone, every dungeon, every raid, every battleground... they're all available. All players will be able to create characters of every race, class, and path while choosing any tradeskills they like. Characters can achieve level 50 and path level 30, just as they can under the current system."
What paying players, who Carbine is referring to as "Signature Players", will get over their free-to-play brethren is simply "more" stuff, such as bonuses to in-game currency, XP and resource gain, and additional auction house and bank slots.
Players who currently have an active payment plan or paid game-time will simply transition to a Signature account until they either cancel their payment plan or their paid game-time runs out.
Furthermore, existing WildStar players who have sunk some cash into the game will be rewarded with "Loyalty Points" depending on how long they have been playing the game for. Carbine didn't go into too much detail on Loyalty Points, simply explaining that they will unlock some unique in-game perks and items.
It certainly looks like NCsoft is going about free-to-play the right way. Rather than punishing free players by locking them out of content, they are instead rewarding paying players by giving them perks and bonuses. I hope it works out for them, and they can avoid the dreaded MMO life-cycle of release -> free-to-play -> server mergers -> death.