There comes a time for new MMOs, 1-3 months after launch, when the players are deciding whether to stick around for the long haul or to leave for old comfortable homes or new horizons. WildStar is in this period of settling in now. What can Carbine do to make sure there’s a healthy population for years to come?
I’ve played lots of MMOs, but some I knew weren’t for me fairly quickly, and I was one of the players who left after the first month or two, while some I picked up months after the initial pulse of player had already passed through. This is the third time I’ve gone through the post-launch settling-in phase of the MMO life cycle.
Friends and Stories
The first time was with Rift. When it launched I loved it, and I was desperate for an alternative to WoW. I enjoyed the customizability of the classes, and the open-world gameplay of the titular rifts. I wanted to stick around and see how the game developed after the initial excitement wore down. There were two factors that ended up causing me to lose interest in the long run. The first was that many of my guildies drifted back to WoW eventually. Not having a group to play with in an MMO limits the opportunities for fun. But I could have found a new guild! The factor that made me not bother was the world of the game. For whatever reason the lore didn’t really do much for me, and in the end the game felt like WoW with a much less interesting story. I still occasionally go back to Rift since it has gone free-to-play, and I remember quickly why I loved it and also why I let it go.
Don’t Nickel and Dime Me
The second MMO I saw launch and then settled down with for a time was SW:TOR. I could write several posts about all the things I loved and hated about SW:TOR. This time I did eventually find an awesome guild that were making the game their primary MMO and raiding together. Many of these folks I still talk with regularly even if we don’t always play games together anymore. What led me to drift away from SW:TOR was a combination of raid burnout, frustrating buggy gameplay, and the F2P conversion. The silly thing is that as a subscriber who would be staying subscribed to raid, the F2P switch should have had very little impact on me. But the announcements of how they were planning to monetize things made me really uncomfortable and worried about the direction they were heading, and it contributed to me leaving.
It is obvious that the launch surge has come and gone. While Thayd is still packed with people at times on my server, out in the world the population has thinned, especially noticeable in the off-peak hours. Overall it still feels like a thriving world, but it is a little sad to see people move on when you are still in love. I think Carbine is definitely doing some really smart things for their future success. Most importantly, they’ve promised and delivered on a really aggressive content delivery schedule so far. Monthly updates mean there’s always something new and interesting to look at, and they also mean that if you’ve taken a break for a bit there will be shiny new changes to see when you come back. Another great thing is the way they interact with their fans. More than any other game I’ve ever played I feel like they are responsive to questions and concerns, and willing to be very transparent about what they’re up to. The Devs are Listening. Also, the story of this game is really appealing to me, and with the promise of new story content already in the works I can’t wait to see where this world takes us. WildStar is a well-crafted, fun game and I think it deserves to thrive.
Things to Watch
Chatting with some of my friends who chose not to stick with WildStar, there are some issues they had in common. One big one is that there seems to be a bit of a leveling slump around the end of Whitevale. I am curious if the full player data supports these anecdotes, but even I felt like I was slowing down too much at that point and had to fill in with adventures and dungeons to change things up some. If it is true over the larger population then hopefully some things can be tweaked to help fix it.
The other big issue was the raiding attunement. Now, I have yet to get a single silver vet adventure run but I am still a fan of the raiding philosophy and attunement process in WildStar. However, I’ve seen a few folks suggest that they’d never be able to complete the attunement and start raiding before they would get distracted by another game, so they chose to not even try. I don’t have a good sense of whether this is actually a loss for the long-term population, even if it does make me sad to see my friends go. If this class of player was never planning to stay then it doesn’t make sense for the devs to substantially change the game to appeal to them. It does feel like a bit of a missed opportunity, though, because what if those folks had really enjoyed the raiding and decided to stay?
Gracie Settles In
I’ve made my decision to stick with WildStar and give it my time and support. I’ve settled into a routine of dailies on my main, followed by leveling, crafting, and PvP on my army of alts when I have more time for gaming that day. I have some plans for big changes to my housing plot, and a powerful urge to get raid attuned. So if you’re still around and looking for something to do, stop by Evindra (Exile side) and say howdy. I’ll be here, settling down for the long haul.