Monday, September 08, 2014

Wildstar Woes

Apparently Wildstar isn't doing too well. It's losing players at a rapid rate and is switching to a single megaserver.  There's a 700+ comment thread at Massively discussing the issue. Massively blames it on the focus on raids and very difficult endgame content.

It's interesting to watch this from outside. I was in the Wildstar beta, but did not get the game at launch.

However, I'm not so sure that raiding and endgame are to blame, precisely. Sure, it's where a lot Massively readers--who are core MMO gamers--washed out. But my rule of thumb is that there are people who are ten times better than you are, and people who are ten times worse than you are. If the core MMO gamer group washed out at endgame, where do you think the casuals washed out?

I think the basic leveling game was too difficult. I actually wrote a post on the Beta forums when I was just level 15 or so, saying "I don't think I'm good enough for the game you are making." I found that just basic leveling quests in the Wildstar beta required a lot of intensity and avoiding telegraphs. I think having that reaction--for a fairly experienced gamer--at level 15 was a bad sign, because the game would only get harder.

Personally, I think it's instructive that two of MMO success stories of the past decade, WoW and FFXIV, have featured very simple leveling.

I also think Wildstar suffers from the "veto" problem. Let's say that you have a group of friends who want to go out for lunch. You have to find a place which all of you can agree to, or at least a place that no one cares enough to veto. I think Wildstar was different enough--both in tone and mechanics--that many groups had one individual feel strongly enough to veto it. And that means that the entire group falls away from the game.

Of course, though, this is just my view as an outsider and beta tester. Perhaps those of you who played the game at launch or over the last few months have a different perspective.


  1. I think a lot of them will be feeling the lure of WoW. New expansion on the horizon, with a new patch coming up first. If you're not THAT hooked on WS it's a good time to switch back, get a whole new levelling experience and more raids later.

  2. "I don't think I'm good enough for the game you are making."

    This was a big part of it for me although it didn't kick in until Level 22 or so. I was also getting behind the leveling curve which was having a negative impact on queuing for dungeons and adventures.

    Lastly, I saw the huge timesink attunement with high skill requirements (Silvers in Vets ain't no joke) and I knew I wouldn't complete it. It's hard to keep pressing on when you know you are speeding toward a brick wall.

  3. I was really excited about the game and had been following it for quite a while, but two things really killed it for me.

    1. I didn't want to have to spend weeks grinding up to max level to start raiding. At least for me, MMOs are always a rush to grind to max level to start doing the 'real' content. The exploration and slow paced leveling are a lot of fun, but not with the threat of finally reaching max to level to find all your friends are already burnt out of the max level content.

    2. $60 box price PLUS a $15/mo fee just felt like a lot of money. It seems like most other MMOs are either $60 and free to play, or $20-30 with a subscription. I ended up not buying the game on launch simply because I didn't want to spend $60 for one month of gameplay without knowing how much I would actually like it.

    I think WildStar had a lot of potential, more-so than most other MMOs, but I just don't think it's the MMO I'm waiting for.

  4. I arguably washed out of Wildstar for just this reason after playing a 30 minute demo of the newbie area at Pax Prime 2013. The level of incoming damage wasn't excessive (either because it was a low level or because they nerfed it for the demo), but the time to kill per mob was such that you could expect to dodge the same telegraph attack repeatedly in the same fight against a regular "kill 10 rats" quest target. Mentally, I figured I should give the thing a chance later in testing, but my gut was that this much dodging and active combat was more work than I was prepared to put into solo questing. My gut won out. Maybe after F2P?

  5. I didnt get time to play in beta, and I didn't know anyone playing it after it launched.

    And they don't do a trial version that I could easily see.