The second-most exciting upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game announced plans today to require users pay an ongoing monthly fee to access its contents. Thankfully, there's still a way to play WildStar for free.
In an age where all but the most successful MMO games have succumbed to the allure of the free-to-play, microtransaction-based business model, Ncsoft and Carbine Studios are sticking to the monthly plan. The game, which must be purchase, comes with 30 days free game time. After that, it's subscription city online.
A bold move, especially for a completely new IP. When even Star Wars: The Old Republic has to switch models to stay afloat, what chance does an unknown universe filled with girls with bunny ears and tails have?
Aside from the whole girls with bunny ears and tails bit? There's the C.R.E.D.D. system, which gives players a chance to play their way to free-to-play. Yes, that was a very confusing sentence.
C.R.E.D.D. stands for Certification of Research, Exploration, Destruction and Development, the game's four main means of getting by. Gather enough gold via getting by, and you can exchange it with other players for C.R.E.D.D., which can be used to pay your monthly fees.
You can also buy C.R.E.D.D. with real money, which seems silly until you take into account market fluctuations in the in-game economy. If a C.R.E.D.D. broker plays their cards right, they could stand to make a killing, virtually.
If the model sounds familiar, you might have played EVE Online, which offers a similar in-game item called PLEX. It's almost exactly the same thing, really.
So, pay-to-play, or spend a substantial portion of each month ensuring you have enough to pay your virtual rent. Intriguing. It feels like a big gamble, going subs in an age where one of the biggest names in the market, EverQuest (the first-most exciting), is busting out with a pair of free-to-play games. At the very least, WildStar is too damn pretty to wind up the next Auto Assault or Tabula Rasa.
You can read more about the WildStar business model here. The game will be out eventually.