Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wildstar's Fatal Misstep

When I was a kid I played a fun game called, Bloody Knuckles. The object of the game was to beat your opponents knuckles bloody to make them give up in pain. Most of the time it ended with the new guy crying as blood squirted out of his knuckles. Most of the newbies gave up and never played again.

You see, the veteran Bloody Knuckler spent countless hours building up calluses and the constant pounding on their knuckles damaged the nerve endings in their hands to dull the pain. There was no way a new guy could win unless he hit hard enough to break the vets hand. Let me tell you, that never happened.

Wildstar is that new guy and they're going to lose.

Before you throw up your hands and start screaming, "what about The Elder Scrolls Online,"  let me tell you why this only pertains to Wildstar.

1. Cartoony graphics

2. Theme park MMO

3. Big raid push

4. 2 factions

5. No existing IP

6. Monthly subscription

5 out of 6 of those scream WoW. In a recent survey WoW players were asked about other MMOs, 60% of them had no interest in any other MMO. 30% liked to try all the MMOs for the right price and 10% didn't even know what MMO meant. That said, Wildstar only has a chance of getting 200,000 people from WoW to try their MMO. Granted, there are a lot more people that don't play WoW and are currently MMOless, but out of those people most of them have tried WoW and left WoW. If 90% of Wildstar is WoW, why would people play it?

I'm not bashing Wildstar if I'm trying to help it survive.

I truly think Wildstar screwed up by not going with a model like Guild Wars 2. GW2 makes money almost as fast as WoW does. I bet percentage wise per capita, GW2 makes more money. Unfortunately, I'm just guessing this according to NCSoft's 3rd quarter earnings of GW2. GW2 didn't win the Bloody Knuckles game with WoW that's because the chose to play a different way.

Wildstar on the other bloody hand, is trying to go blow for blow with the champ. People try to deny it and shrug off the similarities, but at the end of the day Wildstar is a WoW clone to the core. Just like many before them, they will end up bloody and crying. If they just stopped denying it and embraced the fact they would be able to open their minds enough to figure out how to change the game.

So in one corner you have WoW holding tight to the heavy-weight championship of subscription Bloody Knuckles and in the other corner you have GW2 holding the title to the light-weight division, where can Wildstar go?

Like I said before, Wildstar is the new guy in this. They might be full of energy and ready to get bloody, but running in head first is just going to get them knocked out. They might want to want to think a bit longer about their strategy. Maybe they can catch the Champs by surprise with a huge left hook? What would that hook look like though?

1. Wrap their knuckles with a $9.99 sub fee? I know we've all accepted $15 fees with $60 boxes, but what about cushioning the blow to the consumers a bit by bringing the monthly fees down a bit?  I know, "But that's a $5 or 30% profit loss!"  Yup it sure is, but I bet more people would be willing to play WoWstar. I know if I was one of those 60% WoW fans paying $15 a month I'd be willing to try out that other WoW game for less.

2. Take their chances teaming up with GW2 (they are sisters after all)  and hope she doesn't claw Wildstar's eyes out. The problem with Wildstar is, it looks like WoW and smells like WoW. Those 30% that have played WoW and left, don't want WoW or they'd just play WoW... Duh!

Wildstar has a MASSIVE potential for a cosmetic cash shop. With the lack of a existing IP they are free to do what they want. Having a $15 monthly sub is just plain stupid and limits it's the overall growth of the game. It's sad new MMOs only thinking of the short term profit. Sure WoW is old and fat, but its had 9 Years of calluses building up. Of course Wildstar can hope to pull a Buster Douglas on WoW, but WoW would need to have a death in the family, do countless drugs, eat crap, and release WoD while it pukes on its fans.

3. What about having a free 60 days included in the pre-order of the game? What, WHAT?! Now I'm just talking crazy. I know everybody loves the in-game fancy rings with pre-orders or non-combat pets that do funny tricks, but what about giving players something they can actually use past level 5? Why not take a bit of stress off the gamers trying to get them to subscribe? If Wildstar is all about fun and happiness, grow some balls and let the players play the game for 60 days if they pre-order it?  One it can only drive up the initial amounts of pre-orders and two, it let's the player get hooked on the game, worry free,  for 60 days. Studies have shown it takes 90 days to foster a habit and after the first 30 days it gets harder and harder to break that habit. At 60 days it is 75% harder to break a habit. If Wildstar is dead set on a $60 box fee and $15 a month, give players that are dedicated enough to pre-order the game 60 free days. Wildstar needs to go into the Knuckles match with the crowd cheering while it bobs and weaves to wear the fat veteran out. Fat guys don't hit so hard if they can't breathe.

Unfortunately, the mentality behind companies running MMOs is,  "The players that are going to pre-order games do. No need to give them extra stuff that can save them money."  The problem is they don't think about the guy that is sitting on the fence with a pocket full of cash. There are 1,000s of people not wanting to buy Wildstar due to it not being different enough. Carbine Studio needs to push those people off the fence with a reason to play their game besides obscure features in the game. Those features might be cool, but a gamer needs a concert reason to try those features out. What's more concrete than money? Well, concrete I guess...

4. Or they can just pray for a miracle and hope they survive all 10 rounds. There is a list of games that thought they could do that, but sadly they all threw the towel in. What's worse is the other contenders had loved IPs to back them up. Even with the extra push of a known IP, they left in shame. You never know, Wildstar could get lucky? I'm laughing by the way.

The main problem I see about all this is the blinded fans. That say things like,  "we're not trying to kill WoW,"  or "WildStar is nothing like WoW!"  Yup and alcoholics aren't alcoholics if they don't look in the mirror. It's that type of thinking that makes an MMO go F2P or shut down totally. With so many MMOs fighting over players' money, it will be a hard sell for people to get in Wildstar's corner. There are so many better and cheaper options out there. Not to mention the veteran MMOs that already have built a habit from their players. You can scream how it's not Wildstar, but most of the MMO community only sees WoWstar.


  1. WildStar's not going up against WoW. When I've interviewed their exec producer in the past, he said they're targeting ex WoW players and those that have never tried an MMO before. I think it's on Youtube if you're interested.

    ESO is a theme park MMO with a monthly subscription as well, so many of your points also pertain to them.

    WoW's churn rate has been incredible - there are now more people that have played it and quit than currently subscribe. That's a huge market to tap into.

    Ultimately though, your points are 'make it cheaper'. That's not always a winning formula. How about trying to make a game that feels different to what's been played before, yet still has the same level of polish around those core mechanics to make gameplay solid? It's why they're looking at an open beta - to offer a chance for people to try it out before stepping up to buy.

    It doesn't need to beat WoW, or even contend against it. WildStar just needs to be fun enough, and updated regularly enough with fresh content, to attract and retain subscribers.

    1. Those are the same arguments for SWTOR, Rift, Tera, ect ect. The truth is money talks and bullshit walks. The devs can swear up and down they're not competing with WoW, but looking at the game it IS WoW.

      Like I said all those new features are cool to the people that can grasp the concept of them, but most gamers/MMOers don't troll forums, Twitter, or Facebook. They buy a game based on the front cover and how much it costs. We as a social gaming community tend to forget the silent community that doesn't nitpick these games and just buys based on price and looks.

      They might not say they want to compete but they're playing the same game and sooner or later somebody is going to get hit.

    2. Have to agree here. They may not want to be competing with WoW, but they are. It's been my experience that ex-WoW players are done with playing WoW. If they want to play that game again, they may get all touristy and try out other MMO's, but they always end up either quitting or going back to WoW - because really, WoW does WoW best. If you're burnt out on WoW, another similar themepark isn't going to take long to tweak those burnt out bitties.

  2. I just want to add, I love pay to play and I think Wildstar is a great game. I want Wildstar to be the best game ever. I just think there is a larger audience if these companies think outside the quick cash grab pray formula we're seeing in AAA MMOs lately.

    Fine don't go F2P just look at the buckets of money GW2 is making and the possibility with the robust housing in Wildstar to Nickel and dime people on top of a box fee. Wildstar has the hugest potential of making money through a cash shop. They're limiting themselves with a $15 a month sub fee with only a confusing CREDD system.

    Unfortunately I'm just that guy that is telling people that know better, how to do their job. What do they care that I'm super passionate about their game and all I want to do is suggest ways to maybe open the game up for more ways to make money without an OH SHIT moment we've seen as the norm since 2008

  3. I'll most likely eventually play WildStar and I do like the game but I am an old WoW player who goes back every now and then to casually play. When I tried WildStar it truly reminded me of WoW which isn't a bad thing but I want to try new things so giving MMOs that I wouldn't have seen myself in a year ago a chance. Will be playing ESO and Titanfall as my main games.

    WildStar is on a "eventually" to play list. I haven't crossed it out forever because the graphics and art style just so happen to be one of my favorites but I am so tired of following the "pretty" game and it just not being for me.

  4. All I can say is, it's so not like WoW when you play it =) it's a lot more heavy metal meets borderlands. despite the cartoony graphics, it feels more grown-up and less popculture silly than WoW.