Nearly one year after launching the popular sci-fi/fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Wildstar, developer Carbine Studios and publisher NCSoft have announced that the game will include a free-to-play model this fall. Carbine and NCSoft want to bring in more players, and offering everything for free seems to be a great way to do that.
Unlike Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG, which includes a free-to-play model as well, Wildstar gamers won't be required to purchase the client when the free-to-play model kicks in later this year. Everything will be free, from downloading the client to setting up an account, to experiencing everything Wildstar has to offer.
So how will NCSoft and Carbine Studios make money? From the optional in-game purchases and the optional Signature membership. Gamers who sign on for the monthly fee (1-, 3-, 6- and 12-month options) will receive "convenience" bonuses and enhancements, such as special item drops, experience points, crafting and more.
To pay for in-game items, Wildstar will have an NCoin system established. Gamers will be able to use the coins for purchasing items that can also be obtained by investing time in the game; in other words, an item, like a sword can either be purchased in the store or obtained through gameplay.
"One thing that will not be available for purchase is power -- progression will continue to require both skill and effort," the Wildstar blog said on Thursday.
What if gamers already have paid game time when the MMORPG launches the free-to-play model? According to Carbine Studios, that time will be converted into the premium "Signature" membership service until it runs out. Presumably, customers can choose to renew their subscriptions or opt to play for free and purchase items in the store.
For those who have maintained a Wildstar subscription since the beginning, gamers will receive special in-game Player Appreciation items. These include four months of the premium Signature service, a Disco Snoglug companion pet, a DJ Caretaker housing décor item, an Ikthian Crawler mount and a new housing music track. Two titles will also be provided, "Nexus Loyalist" and "Living Legend." Customers who maintain a subscription through the transition, but weren't there for the games' opening, will also receive bonus goodies.
For detailed information about the differences between a free account and a Signature subscription, head here. The page also shows what gamers receive if they purchase a boxed version of the game.