Wildstar Course Correction

I quit Wildstar a couple of months ago, despite really loving the game. I had a blast questing, PVPing, and crafting my way to level 50.

Once I got there, though, it was time to start the attunement process for raiding. I’m no stranger to attunements, and a lot of MMOs have done them over the years. This one was particularly lengthy, but my friends and I went at it with excitement. Killed a world boss, ground rep for a couple of weeks, started working on silver medals in veteran adventures…

That was where it really slowed down. It didn’t help that, at the time, anything less than gold meant shit rewards, so everyone would bail on a group as soon as gold went out the window. It made it incredibly difficult to learn the adventures to get gold, much less finish with a silver. But either way, we powered through it over a few weeks, eventually collecting every gear drop we needed and all of our silver medals.

When we moved on to veteran dungeons, we felt no more geared than when we attempted them prior to gearing out from adventures. There was no noticeable increase in our power. It was frustrating, certainly not a cakewalk. During development, as Carbine repeatedly talked about how hardcore the endgame was, I was excited. I’ve done a lot of MMO raiding. From the Planes of Fear and Hate back in EQ1, to heroic mode ICC in WoW (my raid team earned the Bane of the Fallen King title and our Bloodbathed Frostbrood). I was looking forward to the challenge that Wildstar promised.

Unfortunately, as I spent hours each night working on these adventures and dungeons, I began to realize that perhaps “hardcore” just isn’t for me anymore. The huge time commitment that Wildstar was asking for not only to raid, but to just get attuned to raid, was simply more than I was willing to fork over.

I had to admit to myself that my priorities had changed. I’m a father now, I’m juggling a lot of different big comic projects. As much as I looked back fondly on my raiding days, right now it’s unrealistic for me to dump 3-4 hours a night into an MMO. I didn’t begrudge Wildstar it’s hardcore endgame, but I did have to accept that, at least right now, I’m not the player for it anymore.

My friends felt the same way, and so we drifted away from Wildstar, and then quit altogether.

Apparently, we weren’t alone. According to a recent report, Wildstar’s analytics show that most players aren’t engaging with the time-consuming end-game, with most player sessions lasting from between 15-30 minutes. As a result, Carbine is now refocusing their efforts on more story-driven solo content at endgame, as opposed to their massive, timesink hardcore raids.

Now don’t get the wrong impression from my comic strip… while I’m amused that they’ve discovered they need to head in the complete opposite direction they had originally intended, I’m certainly not admonishing them for doing so. Listening to their players is the absolute right move here.

This news, coming on the heels of Wildstar’s announcement of “megaservers” (a PR friendly spin on server mergers to keep population density at optimal levels), suggests to me that they’ve lost quite a few subscribers since launch due to their brick wall of an endgame, and are now course correcting to retain/reattract players.

When I left Wildstar, I did so hoping to return someday. Either as a result of them sort of smoothing out the progression to endgame, or even just after enough balance and content patches that I felt I could sustain an endgame on PVP or smaller content alone. Solo story stuff would work as well, I guess.

I don’t think it’s Wildstar’s fault here… I think they tried to make an endgame for MMO purists. They’ve just realized that those hardcore MMO purists are few and far between these days, and there aren’t enough of them to keep a subscription game afloat. MMOs are in a very different place than they were fifteen years ago. You can blame it on WoW, and the “casualization” of the genre, but that’s not entirely it.

There are a lot more options for games out nowadays, and I think people have shifted towards shorter sessions. Games that they can enjoy in smaller bites, more often, as opposed to four hour marathon stretches at a time.

Either way, I still love Wildstar, and root for their success, and hope to peek back in on them someday.

via http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20140905

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Absolutely spot-on.

The first thing that started turning me off to Wildstar was the day of name reservation and the error message of “wrong turn, space cowboy.” How true that is for Carbine now.

The Carbine devs talk of how megaservers have been planned all along, since before launch. If this were true, what was the point of name reservation in the first place? All of that is pointless now since you will be required to add a last name to your character. Also, what was the point of allowing dungeon finder to search your server only if they always intended to have a megaserver?

Wildstar was in development for many years. When they started, 40-man raiding had just been dropped and Carbine wanted to bring that era back. Seems they kept their blinders on the whole time during development in order to keep the vision, never noticing the current trends in MMOing. And now they wonder why people aren’t playing and raiding their game.

Honestly, for not the incredible attunement process (which the author talked about too), there’d have been a lot more raiding. The vast majority of people who played more than a month (there’s always that huge exodus in MMO’s when it comes time to pay the sub fee) dropped out before getting all of their silvers in vet dungeons (some of them are damn hard to get). If the bar-to-entry hadn’t been set so high, I’m confident the raiding community would have been healthier, thus more subs, etc., etc. The rest of the game was extremely enjoyable and, honestly, they (along with GW2) have completely ruined MMO combat for me. I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to play another MMO that doesn’t have an active combat system. I’m keeping my account afloat via C.R.E.D.D. still in hopes the changes they make breathe some quality life back into the game :wink:

I agree if Carbine had fell in-line and came out with 10-20 man raiding, or a “flex raiding” system, with no attunement process then there would be much less problems. Combat should have been the main selling point of this game.

It burns me even more because I participated in discussions with devs on the Wildstar Central forums where they said there would be a progression path for the solo/5-man player. Raiding would not be the only endgame. Crafting will have a place.

These discussions took place 9+months before release, I believe. The comments helped sell the game to me.

I didn’t realize I would need to wait 6 months after release to see them actually implemented.

I really like the game. I would gladly pay the monthly fee if they would just fix one bug where I didn’t get credit for completing a quest when I have the reward in my inventory. That’s kinda bad.