The release date and preorder bonuses for the upcoming MMORPG WildStar were announced by Carbine Studios this week. The studio had been rather tightlipped about the future of its first major project despite recent announcements from competitors like The Elder Scrolls Online and the venerable World of Warcraft. The game will officially release on June 3rd, 2014. Interested players can preorder the game starting on March 19th. The standard edition of the game will cost $60 and the “Digital Deluxe” version will cost $75.
Regardless of the version players choose, anyone who purchases the game prior to the official release date will receive some specific bonuses. These include a unique rocket house and an associated trophy to display in the house, a special character title, an expanded inventory bag, and guaranteed access to four beta weekend events scheduled between now and the June release. Purchasers of the “Digital Deluxe” version will receive all the bonuses listed above as well as a unique “hover board” vehicle, another character title, a character costume, and some dyes to alter the color of their armor.
This announcement ends a long period of speculation regarding the release of WildStar. It is the first major project of Carbine Studios. Founded in 2007 by a group of former employees of Activision-Blizzard, Carbine has a pedigree in the MMO industry. They have veterans who worked on a wide variety of MMO’s from World of Warcraft, to City of Heroes, and Everquest. This wealth of experience in the genre has served to increase anticipation for WildStar, as industry watchers speculated as to what kind of product such a team could produce. Critics and players will find out soon enough as the release date and bonuses for WildStar were announced this week.
One of the more controversial features of WildStar is that it is one of the few games in the MMO genre that plans to charge a monthly subscription to play. This model was the dominant system in MMO’s for many years as the genre emerged and almost every game used it in some fashion. This changed with the advent of “free-to-play” models where players are not charged per month to access the game, but instead purchase things in the game on a “micro transaction” basis. These items could be anything from purely cosmetic perks like unique vehicles or armor dyes, all the way to being able to purchase entire characters or equipment sets. This varies from game to game.
These “free-to-play” systems are now the norm in the MMO genre and mandatory subscriptions are all but extinct. World of Warcraft is almost the lone “survivor” of this format, but both the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar plan to use subscriptions in some form as well. WildStar will use a system similar to fellow sci-fi MMO EVE Online where players can either pay a subscription fee, or purchase an item in the game that can be redeemed for a month of game time. Carbine’s argument is that players with an abundance of time will be able to invest that time and essentially play for free, whereas players with more disposable income can simply use the traditional subscription.
WildStar will put the subscription model to the test and determine whether it is still a feasible option for game developers in an era dominated by “free-to-play” systems. The speculation will end on June 3rd as the release date and bonuses for WildStar were announced this week.
By Christopher V. Spencer