WildStar’s Slow and Undramatic Decline

This is not a “the sky is falling” Chicken Little recount of what I see going on in WildStar- this is a general feeling and mood about the game. Read a lot  blogs, forums, and even fan sites and there is an underlying thought that subs are bleeding and the bugs and hardcore nature of the game is putting off a base population. More on why I think that later.

I chronicled my short history and love of WildStar here – a game by all accounts I should be fully engaged in yet barely logging in and my highest character is still (all together now) level 18. I will be cancelling my sub but I still have a couple weeks left to play. I’m not sure if I am even going to bother logging in. Here’s a link to the 13ish posts about WildStar since I started beta. Good and bad – mostly good at the beginning, less good now.

In three months I only opened around 21 of my boom boxes and I’ll have 70 or so waiting for me if I ever log back in – that 21 figure is a lot of fake too – some days I ONLY logged in to get my boom box. Silly that I am Over Rewarding myself. Even sillier, is that I think I have spent more hours listening to the guys at WildStar Nation at their podcast than I have playing the game live.

Aside: I don’t spend a lot of time listening to podcasts – I have my staple audio selection for the week (hour drive each day for work) and that staple is the Economist audio edition (nerd alert?), whatever book I have on tap for the month from Audible (Start With Why by Simon Sinek) and the WildStar Nation podcost. I typically save the WSN for when I cut my lawn. I have a riding mower and a couple acres, and its a solid hour and half on the John Deere. (nerd/hick yo!)

Back: The WildStar Nation Podcast – I was listening to one today (while cutting my lawn) and they were also speaking about the apparent decline of the game. One observation was when one of the casters was talking with someone from Enigma and when prompted, this was the reply from the player regarding what is going on with one of the top raiding guilds in the world, and the top progression guild in the WildStar world right now. This is a paraphrase (but a great excuse for you to go download their latest episode and listen!) – the raider said the guild LOVED the 20 man content – it was awesome. They attuned 70 40 man raiders and now are down to 40 – the bare minimum.

The future of 40 man raids is jeopardizing the game. Sound familiar?

That is when it struck me – WildStar is a game created by developers who claimed that they wanted to build WoW like it used to be, and not make the same decisions that “ruined” WoW. That seemed to be the boilerplate design of the entire game. And that is when it struck me. Rose colored glasses. In that link Arcadius talks about how nostalgia is a cruel mistress and he has a couple of his own links in that article to other bloggers who tend to agree.

“The trouble with nostalgia is that it’s a fleeting thing, and it’s something that’s better left in the annals of your mind.”  Me vs Myself and I

“That driving sense of nostalgia often doesn’t last long beyond the point when you return to the time/place/song you were nostalgic for.”  The Ancient Gaming Noob

(there I go linking TAGN again. I’m going to need to start paying him royalties. At least it is me linking Arcadius’ links!)

Bear with me here on this argument.

Is it any surprise that the games we are playing are underwhelming when they are being created by people who have their own nostalgia about how games are supposed to be designed – on top of our own nostalgia on how they are supposed to be consumed? Now look at a couple of the biggest Kickstarter excitements in MMO nation:

  • Camelot Unchained : DAOC nostalgia
  • Star Citizen: Wing Commander/Privateer nostalgia
  • Pantheon: Rise of the – bah, never mind (but still nostalgia driven..)

You get the picture.

Seems nostalgia could be as much of an enemy of game designers as well as the players. WildStar and present company included.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It’s hardly unique to MMOs. Three out of the top five moves in the US Box Office as I write are based on “nostalgia” – Guardians of the Galaxy, Hercules and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Sometimes seems like Hollywood makes nothing but remakes or adaptations of IPs that were a hit in some other medium years or even decades ago. It also happens often in TV, books, comics, you name it.

    I think that the difference when it comes to MMOs is that veterans (players and designers) aren’t just looking for the warm glow of recognition or sharp thrill of ironic awareness that they get from, say, a big screen updating of Starsky and Hutch or Scooby Doo; they’re looking for a time machine that will take them back to their youth.

    That’s an expectation that’s simply never going to be satisfied. Nostalgia isn’t the problem. EQNext could, theoretically, be enormously nostalgic while being completely modern. The problem is grossly unrealistic expectations. No MMO, however wonderful, can turn the clock back and make you young again.

  2. @Wilhelm glad I could help with that? Always enjoy reading you.
    @Bhagpuss – you too =) And I think players and designers could accept the niche level of success (what was EQ, 400k in its prime?) if producers and studios could accept the lower return. Too much, for too many people, creates too many “failures”. After all – isn’t nostalgia different for everyone too?

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