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I am getting the feeling my other report (Wildstar’s Slow and Undramatic Decline) was a bit too optimistic. Perhaps the sky is falling after all (at least on Nexus).
Be prepared for some hard hitting journalism today on the final day of Blaugust.
First – the President of Carbine, Jeremy Gaffney, announced this week he is no longer the President. He announced this on Reddit and the official forums. The official title talked about how he is “taking on a new role” and if you read between the lines he doesn’t really share whether or not he was asked to move on or personally decided to. A snippet (and the link)
He then goes on to share that he is going to focus on family – he is a cancer survivor and I love his candor and openness. Having been through that it is really hard. His moving over letter is the type of thing WildStar fans have come to know and love about him. Gaffer was the man behind the vision, preserver of the style of MMO they wanted to build – a grindy, 1% focused, hard game a la World of Warcraft 2004. Him moving on is also the sign that that seemingly failed vision is now looking at a more causal focused game.
One of WildStar’s best (and most popular) fansites – WildStarFans.net had it’s creator stop posting and updating. Players became used to visiting here for the latest and up to date news. Originally he left things pretty open and said he was reprioritizing and focusing family (sound familiar? Isn’t that the hotshot excuse you hear from executive types when making up an excuse that the Gaffer talked about?) and was non-committal on whether he was still playing the game or not.
He did edit his farewell post and post that he was still playing – but he didn’t share any specifics if he was enjoying the game or if that had any part to do with it. Regardless – fansites and podcasts are the pulse of the community of the game, and bring the community together. When the most popular ones start going the way of the Rowsdower (equivalent to a Nexus dodo bird) then you know things are bad.
I was listening to the WildStar Nation podcast this week (again) and the 4 hosts announced that their next podcast, #50 (they have been podcasting WildStar for a year) will be their last. This podcast was getting 30,000 downloads a month (which is 10% or 30% of the WildStar subscriber base depending on what numbers you like – WildStar isn’t sharing) and was usually the #1 downloaded WildStar podcast (stats were shared by them on various podcasts). It was a pretty somber mood from the guys (Haystack, Militus, Dopamine and Bear) and they were just honest that one of them had already quit and the other’s were having a hard time logging on.
They are funny guys and one of those tongue in cheek remarks was along the lines of “WildStar was able to kill a guild of 500 people in 6 weeks”. They had a guild and that is what happened. 500 gone / disbanded in 6 weeks. Craziness. I have enjoyed the WildStar Nation podcast more than I actually got to enjoy the game so sad to see them go. The truth is, again, the pulse of the community here. If the biggest fans of the game aren’t sticking around then who is?
While that question may sound like it is referring to us looking at why the game didn’t grab and keep the attention of the fans of the game and general MMO population it is actually also the answer.
Why again, would we build in barriers (40 mans, attunements) into a sub fee MMO while the entire genre is moving to easier and more accessible? Just to be different? Who said that is what players actually want?
That fun answer is that some players did want it – and some are now fighting WildStar for now switching to easier (making some attunements steps more reasonable, etc.) 5 mans are supposed to be fun and fast now, easily completable by 5 random strangers (not so in WildStar). Raids are supposed to have varying levels of difficulty so everyone can have the experience. Why are we designing games the same way we were playing them 8 years ago – when the games from 8 years ago that are still going strong have so drastically changed themselves to fit what gamers want?
Gamers don’t have the time to slog through “that” MMO – there have been reports that people need to grind for 3+ hours a raid night to just get enough cash to buy consumables and pay for repairs for that 6 hour learning raid. That prep is unacceptable these days – and it is really no surprise. Gamers pay billions of dollars annually to speed things up – look at Clash of Clans, for example. The whole business model is speeding things up. People do not want to go slower. Especially in a sub fee environment where the gating feels like it is just to stretch out your sub.
Add to that, they built in a cash shop where you could buy CREDD with real money to skip some of those grinds. And we all know that the only game that can get away with having both a subscription fee and a cash shop is World of Warcraft.
Suddenly my November F2P conversion prediction is looking really solid. And that’s not to be a jerk – I’ll actually go play when that happens. There is a lot of Nexus I want to explore.
All of this also makes me think of ESO – a game I have never played. How is it faring? Did it find it’s niche? I wonder this because is there really any room for a newly launched MMO to have a subscription fee anymore? The falling (wild) star would indicate to me that there isn’t.