Tobold's Blog
Friday, July 04, 2014
Wildstar subscription numbers

I don't have any. Do you?

Every week I look at the Nosy Gamer's Digital Dozen MMORPG XFire activity chart. Which is getting less and less statistically significant every week, due to XFire not exactly being growing. However the chart shows trends which are probably roughly correct. And Wildstar activity numbers have been constantly decreasing by large percentages each week, to the point where they are now behind Guild Wars 2, a drop of over 60% from the peak. And that in just a few weeks, we aren't even talking "three-monther" here.

It is my personal belief that Wildstar is doing rather badly regarding subscription numbers. I am basing that opinion not only on Nosy Gamer's activity charts, but also on my personal experience of servers being much less busy now, and the fact that no new servers have been opened since release. I also noticed on my character selection screen a message which was basically begging me to stay subscribed and try out the new content patch. Furthermore the complete absence of any bragging about subscription numbers by Carbine makes me think that there is not much to brag about.

Of course by simply not publishing any numbers Carbine makes it rather easy to adapt a position of denial; pretending that everything is going just fine. Ultimately what matters is how much money Wildstar is making. And Carbine is owned by NCSOFT, who aren't known for their infinite patience with games that don't make money. There is something inherently unhealthy about a big budget MMORPG made for a niche population in a niche market. Things are going to happen in the coming 12 months to address that, including introduction of a free trial, price reduction of the box cost, and possibly even a Free2Play conversion.

I guess too many of us were already predicting its failure, long before the official launch. It may be (still) making some money but it will not survive the f2p phase. Then it will be a slow death.
I'm not sure what to make of the data, other than it's reflecting those who use Xfire.

What subset of people use Xfire, and are those the people that Wildstar want?

Hell if I know the answer, because all of Xfire's website brochures seem to point toward competition and tournaments, and I could never decide what Wildstar wanted to be when I tried out the Beta.

But WoW being at the top of those charts doesn't shock me; were it not for PvP, I doubt there'd be much activity in WoW at all right now.

Of course, based on my personal experience alone, I'd say about 1/4 - 1/3 of toons I encounter in an average random BG are bots, so make of that what you will.

They also sent out a "recruitment" letter to nonplaying ex-beta testers yesterday. They are THAT desperate...
@souldrinker-- Given that Rift and other games I've played Betas for have done the same thing --I got one of the e-mails too-- that doesn't surprise me at all.

You're confusing marketing for desperation. A company will use email addresses they have to market to people. It doesn't mean they are desperate... They are using the info they have
"Three monther" is coming from the fact that a WoW-clone run out of content in 3 months. For a game that is no different than WoW, just uses space aliens or cowboys instead of elves, the graph is peak and down: everyone tries it out because he is bored of WoW, and then finds that it's the same gameplay, but with more bugs and slower updates. So they quit. So you are right that such game will only lose subscribers.

However consider EVE Online: 10 years of constant, slow growth. Why? Because it's a niche game. People who like it stick around. And as more and more people try it out, more and more sticks around. Most people of course will not like it and won't stick around.

Imagine that EVE Online was published right now, marketed by a big studio with awesome videos. Millions would try it out. And most of them would leave it raging when they got ganked. What you would see is a huge subscriber drop. But we know that EVE isn't dying, it has a small but stable playerbase.

*If* Wildstar if a niche game. *If* they do something differently in the gameplay (like keeping raid content hard), we see the same: a slow growing core playerbase + bunch of WoW kiddies quitting.

I'm not playing Wildstar. I haven't tried it out because I didn't believe that it's not just WoW with blasters. But the more I read about it from you, the more I want to try it out. If a few months down the path they still don't chicken out and nerf to keep the WoW kiddies, I will try it out. I tried out EVE 8 years after it was published and it's now my only game. Who knows, maybe the next will be Wildstar.
Mikepreachwow (an ex Method raider I believe) runs a YouTube and Twitch channel for hardcore WoW players. He did a poll and 70% of his viewers didn't even TRY it!

So it looks like Wildstar really failed to attract that niche.

I mean there is nothing to do in WoW at the moment and 70% didn't even bother to play it for free in the beta or with a guest key!

The niche was IMO way too small to fund a AAA MMO even if they had captured the bulk of it.

Of the 30% that "tried" (not "bought" it) you can bet that most just briefly dabbled in the beta. A horrifyingly small number must have actually bought the game.
@gevlon - you make a great point but does a sand box like EVE cost as much to run as a AAA PVE MMO where their target audience (hardcore) have a reputation of chewing through expensive content at a terrifying rate?

They could follow EVE's numbers but to survive they need a big bang (and one that persists) like WoW had.
I got Wildstar and was really disappointed. I kept hearing about how challenging the combat was and that it fun having that extra challenge. Soon though I found myself really bored and wrote the classes and paths were kind of fun the questing was horrible... Worse then WoW. IMO worse then Vanilla WoW questing.

Then you have the "hard" combat... Or how I like to call it "get out of the fire EXTREME EDITION!!!111!!11". I hate how people call this type of thing " hard" and challenging". Its not, period full stop.

In fact if anything its even easier then other games because everything is telegraphed bright red! Do you have to pay more attention then in other games? Sure but that does not make it harder. If anything it made me hate the game more because I couldn't gloss over the bad questing.

Dungeons are the same thing. Just tons of stuff to dance around.

I really hate this approach of making things hard in MMOs. More intricate dances are not the only way to make things hard. Shorter enrage timers are not the only way to make things hard. Giving mobs more HP and DMG are not the only way to make things harder.

I wish some Dev could figure out a way to increase challenge by testing something other then reflixes and who can grind out the best gear.
So it looks like Wildstar really failed to attract that niche.

That doesn't surprise me. Yes, Wildstar is "challenging". Yes, Wildstar uses WoW's "don't stand in the fire" mechanics dialed up to 11. But I am not yet convinced that somebody successful in WoW raiding will automatically have the right skill set to do well in Wildstar raiding. For example with my past as ex-hardcore raid healer I don't see much overlap with Wildstar healing.

*If* Wildstar if a niche game. *If* they do something differently in the gameplay (like keeping raid content hard), we see the same: a slow growing core playerbase + bunch of WoW kiddies quitting.

I not only don't have Wildstar subscription numbers, I also don't know what the minimum number of subscribers is to make Wildstar profitable. I do believe that Wildstar was far more expensive to make than EVE, because what is expensive is things like character and monster animations. Therefore I do believe that a "slow growing core playerbase" will not be sufficient to keep Wildstar alive after the "WoW kiddies" left.
That's sunk cost fallacy. It doesn't matter how much money it cost to make Wildstar, that money is gone and there is no way to get it back.

The question is which path gives the most money to the devs FROM NOW:
- keep it as it is, hoping for steady growth
- nerf it to the ground to keep the WoW kiddies in for one more month
- go F2P and hope that a few maniac whales will pay $1000 for an invisible buff that makes your character automatically jump out of the fire

If I were them, I'd stick with the first option based on EVE. Again: there is no guarantee that with even the best choice they get the development money back. But getting $50M after losing $100M is better than getting $10M after losing $100M.

The other problem is larger. If Wildstar isn't more than "dancing faster than WoW", than it will have trouble finding a niche, because all the FPS games are in the same niche.
If Wildstar wanted to be a niche game they shouldn't go the "looney toons" theme. Wow in Vanilla and TBC was "hardcore" (compared to now, not to the MMOs that existed then), but it had a great and epic lore (with some fluff of course).

Absence of evidence is not evidence.

A lot of people that I have seen tweeting about Wildstar and now tweeting about Wildstar and the WoW beta.

*are now tweeting about Wildstar and WoW beta.
Absence of evidence is not evidence.

I do have evidence. I just don't have official numbers. So we can as well turn it around and say that there is absolutely no evidence for Wildstar doing fine, while there is some anecdotal evidence for it bleeding to death.

Carbine cannot make their problem go away by keeping mum about it.
I've been receiving "Come try Wildstar" emails daily for the past week or so, when before this weke I've only seen 1 at launch and then 1 at the 1-month mark, so to be getting daily spam now seems a bit desperate to me, which isn't a good sign.
The only reason I'm not publishing the Raptr numbers is I don't want to run into any legal issues involving the terms of service. But Raptr is showing the same trend as Xfire, just not as steep. The game is also showing the same trend in Raptr as Elder Scrolls Online, which indicates a 3-month game.

On a personal note, I'm having difficulty getting to a high enough level to see the housing and get a mount. The game isn't clicking with me.
The interesting point about your last paragraph is that the future of Wildstar is outside the control of gamers/the game. I.e. WS is a niche product; But whether NCSoft gets plenty of funding for development or whether they get fewer devs (which is bad for the long term but more profitable long term) is determined by managers and accountants in NCSoft. (The obvious point is that CoH was still "profitable" when they decided it was not worth keeping open.) If L2 or GW2 make a fortune, then there can be other funds to invest. If someone says GW2 is a star and WS will never be big, then funds could flow. Would a NCSoft shareholder prefer another developer for GW2 or L2 or for WS?

Again, IMO when this sub game will really need to decide what it wants to be is when WoD ships.
The most telling piece of evidence is nothing coming out of Carbine's marketing department regarding how well the game is doing. Every MMO that can make claims does make claims, even when they seem paper-thin. To say nothing at all says volumes.
After what Gevlon wrote ("The question is which path gives the most money to the devs FROM NOW") I am really struggling.

They really created the perfect storm.

They chose the most expensive form of game to run - PVE MMO where you have to generate lots of new and expensive content.

They then targeted perhaps the worse (economically speaking) player base possible.

Hardcore players only represent around 3% of WoW players so the numbers are small plus those types of players are veracious consumers of content. This means that what you have in place NOW won't last long...

I think they also made a huge mistake in assuming that the small niche they targeted were prepared to shift games. A casual player may shift games more readily as they are less invested. A hardcore player on the other hand is heavily invested and obsessed with their current title. To them any time out of their current game is a huge gamble as they could lose their raid spot etc. Plus all their status, epeen and resources would have to be built from scatch in the new game which must act as a deterrent whereas a casual has none of those to start with. Good luck attracting those hardcores!

So anyway what do they do now? Sooner or later their small audience will be baying for more expensive content.

Nerfing it will only bring that time closer.

However not-nerfing it won't help the playerbase grow as the hardcore players aren't interested in leaving games like WoW and the more flexible casual players aren't interested for the obvious reasons.

Should they "throw good money after bad" and create more content once the hardcores have chewed through the existing content?

I do wonder if they are better off not-nerfing it now and extracting as much money as possible from the hardcores.

Once the hardcores finish everything they had ready at launch (or that is almost complete in the pipeline now) just accept that they aren't profitable customers and abandon them.

At that point you can nerf the existing content to pull in the casuals. Then just wait until such time that subs are on the verge of not covering the running costs. At that point either shut it down or analyse whether F2P would keep it afloat a little longer. Recover as much of the initial investment as possible then ditch it.

If any more devs have bright ideas about wasting millions of investors dollars on an MMO then perhaps the least risky title to develop would be a carebear sandbox MMO. Kind of like an EVE...but for nice regular people and in a fantasy as opposed to sci fi environment. A sandbox title with very low continuous development costs but one that appeals to a mass market.

Ok yeah Minecraft already exists. But if the characters were realistic and attractive and you could acquire shiny and pretty clothing etc.... Think about that and it does make you wonder what Carbine were smoking when they decided it would be a great idea to make a hardcore focussed PVE mmo instead of a carebear sandbox.
I agreed with Gevlon's 3 alternatives for the game but I see a couple of more:

4) Maint mode - underfund the game, continue to sell to the true believers but not invest in it
5) CoH shutdown - "profitable" but not worth the bother. (we are pretty far from that)

Gevlon is right about sunk cost but another question is whether EVE is enough to save WS. (CCP's retained earnings at the end of 2013 were 17.3 million US$. Which is about $4,000 dollars per day since they started on EVE.) Would NCSoft's management think a few hundred thousand players making some money be worth keeping it as a well-funded member of the product portfolio? Even Aion generates more revenue that EVE.

Speaking of numbers, does anyone believe the "EVE constant growth" still? EVE is truly a success story with finding and serving well a niche. I suspect graphs that compare Western Apocrypha subs with worldwide numbers today tend to overstate the case since I doubt CCP or ATVI are getting the $/person in China that they are in EU/NA. But more significant, is that I have not read (could be wrong) the "constantly growing" from CCP in a while - e.g. last fanfest - which I think is telling.

Speaking of numbers, does anyone believe the "EVE constant growth" still?

Unlike Wildstar we have very exact data on EVE player activity. EVE Online in the West peaked 3 years ago, and is now in a very slow decline. The weekly average last week was 28% below peak from January 2011.
NCSoft, as a public company, does release official numbers during quarterly reports. In fact, they break it down by game, which is way more detailed than Activision Blizzard does.

The next two quarters will be very interesting.
@Woody: exactly because they created the perfect storm, we must ask: are they completel idiots? Because they has to be to create it by mistake.

The alternative is that the created it intentionally. This case their plan is a very long one. They accept that the WoW kiddies will quit after a month or two and they are left with a 100-200K hardcore subscriber base, which is NOT profitable. Still they keep creating content and refuse to nerf. By doing so, they slowly build reputation among the hardcore raiders and they slowly, one by one quit their current games and leak to Wildstar. Like 50K/year. That means 300-400K subscriber in 5 years, probably reaching the point when the subscribers pay for the running cost and the continuing development and the game start to create money. From there its profitable forever.
From there its profitable forever.

I think your premise is built on a flaw, that you think EVE Online is relatively stable with subscriptions due to something inherent to the game. But here is an alternative explanation: EVE Online is making money because it has absolutely no viable competition. How many MMORPGs about space travel, with space ships and trading do you know?

Imagine tomorrow Blizzard revealed their new project Titan to be a space MMORPG, with space ships to build, space trading, even PvP in the outer reaches of the galaxy. But with better graphics, more things to do, better animations, space station housing, and whatever other feature you can buy for a couple of hundreds of million dollars. Don't you think EVE Online would take a big hit in subscriptions in that case?

Your Wildstar plan will fail the day Blizzard releases WoD, and a significant portion of all those raiders go back to WoW.
"profitable" is frequently misused in gaming comments. If I am a sole proprietor, then profitability matters. Roberts of SC with one game might be willing to go for decades with 1 million in revenue and .95 mill expenses per year. But public companies are measured on "return on equity", "return on investment" and "cost of capital". q.v. If NCSoft were to make a profit of two million per year for the next millenium with Wildstar, they would have to consider that a considerable disappointment. Public companies can't do high-risk products for modest profits. It may be that what Carbine pitched NCSoft, what they expect and what NCSoft will accept are significantly different.


Ofc the most talked about issue for EVE, at least prior to the new Russian law, was Star Citizen. EVE has loyal fans (although if the average age of a pilot in EVE and average in WoW is ten months then EVE fan's seem less loyal than WoW.) But any sub business loses customers for a number of reasons. Gaffney said WoW loses about 10% per month and half of those don't return. So if the same number of EVE people leave but some of the bored ex-players who would return try SC instead, that is a net drop in subs.
Again, IMO when this sub game will really need to decide what it wants to be is when WoD ships.

WoD? Is that World of Darkness? Hasn't that been shit-canned?

I keep seeing posts alluding to WoD's pending release...CCP managed to piss all that IP up the wall. A serious bunch of idiots managing that company.

Great article here.
WoD is Warlords of Draenor, the next WoW expansion.
Tobold: the unique feature of EVE is *not* spaceships. CCP could reskin the game to replace the setting into water, the spaceships into swimming mages and warriors, the blasters into swords, the railguns into bows, the space stations into huge murlock willages, the asteroids into schools of fish, the rats into swimming demons and the game would remain the same.

The reason why EVE has no competitors are:
- item loss on death (half destroyed, half is lootable by killers)
- betraying your groupmates, stealing from them is permitted
- hunting someone down for no reason is permitted
- you can own valuable land (not just cosmetic housing)

Similarly Wildstar would be very different from WoW by the following rules:
- no level cap increase, ever
- no group content nerf, ever
- no welfare epics (items matching group content, available outside of group content)
I don't believe you. Darkfall has the same features you list, and never got a fraction of the subscribers. And in EVE Online 80% of subscribers never leave the safe empire space, so obviously they aren't all that interested in the features you list.
@Tobold: the fail of Darkfall is an evidence for my opinion.

It failed because it's an "EVE-clone" just much worse graphics, balance, server capacity and support.
I think regardless of what is happening with EVE, the issue with Gevlon's plan for Wildstar is that investors would need to have nerves of steel and a huge amount of faith.

They are already looking at a big loss.

Then they would be asked to throw large sums of money at the game to keep up with the development required to keep their chosen customers happy.

All this for the promise of "jam tomorrow" or rather jam in five years time.

I do wonder who on earth invested in a new PVE MMO and why!? I don't know how long it has been in development but if they had put that money into the UK property market (in particular London) at that time they would be bathing in champagne about now.

I guess development started some time during Wrath of the Lich King when WoW was a licence to print money. Having had a chance to witness the decline of that game as Blizzard tried to make it more hardcore focussed you have got to wonder how Carbine made the decision to focus on that niche.

Seems like investors put their money in expecting WoW WoTLK and Carbine took the money and tried to build TBC.
+1 Woody.

The MMO equivalent of "generals fight the last war" is that AAA MMOs are designed around the paradigms of five years prior to launch. (E.g., sill sad about H1Z1 being trendy DayZ pkZombie.)

Will Carbine have the money to double-down on believing the original hardcore market is still large enough to fund an AAA? More development money for WS or GW2 or L2?


Their is a business term "first mover advantage." q.v. it's not features; I don't think that a new game exactly like EVE could compete with EVE. CCP has that segment atm. It may not be a large or desirable segment, but it is far, far better than failing as a general purpose MMO.

There are a few assumptions in this discussion that I question.

1. "Casual" players will quit after a few months no matter what, don't bother even trying.

I have brought this up in previous threads. When you only offer a few months of content to a certain demographic, you cannot blame the players when they quit after they finish all the content you offered them. WoW has done just fine keeping a large population of overwhelmingly casual players.

2. Any hardcore player who tries your game will never quit ever.

This is an even more ridiculous assumption, hardcore players switch games all the time. If they didn't, they wouldn't have left their last game to try yours.

This is especially important given the difference in size of the demographics. There are 20 or more casuals for every hardcore player. Even if those casuals would have quit after the first month (giving you only the $50 box price), you need that one hardcore player to stay for over 5 years just to break even.

3. Catering to hardcore simply means not offering easier modes.

Just because you don't have easier modes for casual players doesn't make your hard modes any better. As much as WoW is berated for being too easy, diluting content, giving welfare epics, and everything else hardcore players claim they can't stand, they still have by far the largest hardcore player population.

I suspect this is because when other players they will never meet, start doing content modes that will never affect them in any way, it (surprise!) does not affect them.

4. All players fit neatly into the "casual" or "hardcore" labels, and all casuals hate all hardcore content, while all hardcore players hate all casual content.

I suspect there are more than a few hardcore WoW raiders who do fishing, pet battles, and half a dozen other "casual" activities in addition to their raiding.

This is especially important given #3. For many games, their only real method of "catering to the hardcore" is by excluding casual content. Even for hardcore players, this doesn't make your game better, just less content.
The problem with your logic is that is dependent on wow numbers. Just because wow players are ok with multiply mods of content does not mean that should be the normal on all games. Because wow had that number of subs and ever higher when there wasn't multiply difficult modes of content.

Leave aside wow, that for various reasons became popular and have a huge playerbase and lets talk about the other MMOs. There are multiply MMO Themeparks that their content was very casual from the very start and yet those games have lost lot of subscribers too and moved into f2p model.

I stay in my opinion that if the game is fun and have good gameplay, the difficulty of content is irrelevant to its success, regardless the YxHardcore = ZxCasual logic
Gianni - which MMO theme parks were very casual from the very start?

I've played most of them and every one of them was far harder than WoW when they launched.
I quit playing.

Part of it was that my guild insisted on rolling on a pvp server, and though I was curious about the new patch content, I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm to head out into a max level pvp death zone.

Also, I found healing fairly boring. There are almost no actual decisions you have to make. As an esper healer, I spend almost all my time charging and aiming soothe and dodging telegraphs, and then I have an interrupt and a couple of 'oh shit, save the tank' abilities and on-cooldown focus regen. I never got into any raids, but I saw all the adventure/dungeon content, and it just wasn't complex enough to hold my interest.

I much prefer a game where I have to see what's going on and have to make a decision about which heals I should use, based on incoming damage pattern, intensity, fight duration, etc. Wildstar doesn't have any of that; there's no complexity, just twitch dodging out of red circles.

The issue is the amount of content. Every WoW-clone/themepark MMORPG to release in the last several years has provided at most a few months worth of casual content. We are not surprised that players are not still playing Tomb Raider or Bioshock: Infinite. That doesn't make the games flops, and it doesn't make the players inherently flaky. The players finished the content and moved on to other games, just as you would expect.

There is nothing special about giving a game the "MMORPG" label that should make you expect players will continue playing after they have finished the content. The only difference is that SOME demographics are offered continuing content.

WoW is by far our biggest sample size, and the one we have the best numbers for. It is also the only example of a game that provided more than a few months of casual content. It is ludicrous to ignore WoW as if they did nothing right, but magic made them successful, while pretending all other themepark games did nothing wrong but those dastardly casuals won't stay and do the same limited content over and over! How dare they!

All of these games show a 100% consistent trend to me, one in which casuals typically stay as long as the content they are offered. Considering they outnumber other demographics by such a huge margin, I'd say games have a financial interest in trying to keep them around.

Swtor :)


But even if we take wow as example, what was the casual content in Vanilla and TBC? Only leveling and that didn't took more than 3-4 months for a casual.

But it had a great lore and very fun classes, so people could keep rolling alts and that was the casual content. What Vanilla/TBC wow had for casuals that Rift, Lotro, swtor, e.t.c. didn't?

I'd hazard a guess of being better at casual content than its contemporary competition.

There were a few things. WoW was 300 hours to level cap at launch, or closer to 500 hours if you did a lot of dungeons. They had 2 factions and 2 continents, so you could level 2 alts with almost no overlap, and 2 more alts with moderate overlap. Classes function with a much wider diversity than most games (Warlock plays very different from Warrior, who plays very different from Rogue, etc.), especially at that time. Meaning, playing an alt was a different experience. And each race has their own starting area, so you could try basically every class to level 20 or so without repeating content, to see how it plays and find out if you like it.

At level cap, Vanilla WoW had admittedly few dungeons. But you may recall the harder 5-mans allowed you to bring 10 players for less rewards. And while I have spoken pretty vehemently against raiding for casual players, the vanilla 40-man raids were much more laid back and far less perfectionist. Most importantly for a casual player, they weren't that complicated. You didn't need to watch the Youtube video until you had memorized that dance for each encounter.

Burning Crusade obviously made raids much less casual friendly, but added a LOT more dungeons, which at the time provided much more challenge and meaningful progression (before the dungeon finder came along). The expansion also added daily quests and faction grinding. And, obviously, it added several more questing zones.

All of this was FAR more casual content than any other MMORPG had ever provided at that time.

Of course, games that come out now are not competing with Vanilla WoW or TBC, they are competing with the current WoW. You can call it unfair or unrealistic for a new game to produce as much content as one that has been adding content for 10 years now, but fair or not this is the choice a casual player is presented with.
@Giannis - SWTOR is the only one I didn't play at launch so I will take your word for it that it was easier.

However the irony is that SWTOR is doing a lot better than the other games I played which were harder and also went f2p.

I don't think any conclusions can be drawn about the merits of tuning/multi difficulty modes there.


I totally agree with your description of wow and I am the first that I am missing a leveling experience like Vanilla wow. Although I do remember that dungeon content was very difficult (or we all were very noob :) but the end result is the same, that dungeons was challenging). Even some outside group quests needed a full group to overcome.

Leveling was also "challenging" at times because with a wrong pull you could easily die in leveling.

But that is my point, that if Wildstar and every "wildstar" had a great lore, a huge virtual world with separate starting locations and replayability as wow had and also leveling had 300-500 hours of gameplay, do you think that casuals would give a shit if dungeons/raids was "hard"?

The problem of all new MMOs is the so called "end content" while trying to push all players into dungeons/raids as fast as possible. That is the problem of new MMOs not that they are easy/normal/hard.


Agree :). Swtor is doing fine atm and even if the dungeons are very easy, I didn't bother doing them. Swtor can offer a casual gamer 8 class stories that half of them are very enjoyable. The bad part is that besides the different class stories, you still have to go from the same planets/quests every time in a very linear questing system.

Anyway, I hope we can agree that if developers can offer us a great and huge virtual world with lot of replayability and RP elements, who give a @#$ about their raids :)

Another thing BC added was "welfare epics" from PvP. Going from an obnoxious, exclusive grind in Vanilla, the infamous Blizzard pendulum swung over to the other side. Lose ten games a week for your free gear that was just as good as many raid epics.

They would swing back again too far at the start of Wrath, when even honor blues had a ratings requirement and PvP participation collapsed, before finally hitting a middle ground they've occupied since.
At endgame, for non-raiders, Wildstar has 4 adventures, that serve as a stepping stone to 4 dungeons. Once you can do the dungeons, the adventures cease to be useful. If you play Wildstar but don't like pvp, you're going to do a lot of dailies and see an awful lot of those 4 dungeons.

In Burning Crusade for non-raiders, there were 13 dungeons. Hellfire Ramparts, Blood Pools, Shattered Halls, Slave Pens, Underbog, Steamvault, Mana Tombs, Auchenai Crypts, Sethekk Halls, Shadow Labyrinth, Botanica, Mechanar, and Arcatraz. Except for crypts (because screw those ghost pats), I think I ran all of those more than I've run any of the dungeons in any other game or expansion since. I can remember the boss mechanics for each better than my most recent raid. Hell, I can't even remember the names/themes of half the panda raids. For me, Burning Crusade was the golden age of casual endgame content.

So admitting up front that I've got some pretty big nostalgia issues. But Wildstar just seems to have so much less to offer to players like me. So I've switched back to GW2 and rolled a new elementalist and am having a blast doing some relaxed mapping.

Agreed. I think it is actually a misnomer that casual players don't want a challenge. The issue is that a challenging instance means you need to research/memorize boss fights, where a single mistake can mean death and probably a wipe. So a pickup group of random strangers can't really do it, you need a coordinated team.

Now, this is fine for the end game (where you are right, the vanilla and TBC end-game instances were quite hard). However, it is not fitting for lower level instances, such as with Wildstar. I can remember 3-manning several lower level WoW instances with a couple of friends. We didn't even have a tank, the hunter pet worked just fine.

For leveling/questing, I think it is actually quite significant that the challenge level varied. Producers of action movies know you need ups and downs, and try to plan out X minutes between action scenes. I think you could do the same with a questing zone, dropping in a fairly hard one every once in a while. Assuming you can skip it, I don't think it's bad if a player can't do an occasional quest.


You forgot the two Caverns of Time instances, so that makes 15. :)
The "hardcore" MMORPG gamer market is relatively extremely small market.

No matter how big a buzz a hundred people getting world kills made, it was still the other million "casual" players running around,slowly but surely, collecting mounts kept/keeps games like WoW afloat.

The real-game-is-end-game niche sprinted to max level, but its the players who take months to level who keep the lights on.

I'm not sure Wildstar understands that.
Gah, how could I forget black morass? I'm all embarrassed now. XD
While I agree with much that has been said here, I think one of the main differences between Wildstar and WoW (TBC/WOTLK timeframe) is the major shift in options.

At the time TBC was out there were only a few other MMOs really out there, and (as I remember) only GW1 gave an option of playing without paying a subscription.

Now however, with the huge explosion of of F2P and B2P MMO's available, I think you have to do something really, really special and different to be able to keep people from questioning the need to keep a monthly payment on the books.

For instance, if I wanted to play an MMO, right now and only looked at AAA-type games and wanted not to have a monthly payment I could look to GW2, LOTRO, SWTOR, TSW, etc... Pretty good and competitive offerings. I suspect that casuals (which includes me, most certainly) will have a harder and harder time sticking with P2P games as we don't play enough to merit the sub fee.
The original post was based on XFire data, however; it appears Raptr data has led Massively to a different conclusion.

Raptr's Most Played PC list shows strong start for WildStar
The Raptr numbers one "one month" numbers, and can't possibly show any growth or decline. We'll need to wait for the July numbers to see how they evolve.
If according to xfire wildstar has 250 users a day in July and WoW has 1250 that must mean it has a fifth of its subscriber base? I don't think that was true when it launched, much less now. It was a dubious measure 5-10 years ago and now?

I think the speculation here isn't grounded in an understanding of the industry. I may not know much, but I'm pretty sure I know more than this. :P

Rift went 2 years as p2p. Why did it do that well? Because they developed their own IP instead of buying one. I can't imagine how much money has to be made to pay for Star Wars. Also, like Wildstar their ad campaign seemed to be youtube.

If you have a known IP and then put another 100 million into advertising you really have to make big bucks. So, you make a casual pve game with pvp as the main endgame. SWTOR, ESO, and so on, can't survive on 200k subscribers.

If you don't have all that brand name recognition and advertising dollars how are you going to compete? You need to fill a niche. Who's going to play a casual mmo even most mmo players have never heard of?

Personally, I like the game because leveling and dungeons are reasonably difficult. That is, I don't have to raid in order to do something hard. There's all sorts of ways to define casual. Its a bugfest though and needs some fine tuning in the risk/reward. If they keep taking their time on fixing that, I don't know how long I'll last.
Ultimately what matters is how much money Wildstar is making.

I'm wondering how the CREDD system is affecting this. I'm seeing reports that people can just farm and vendor stuff to get enough gold to buy all the CREDD they need. If Carbine screwed this up they'll effectively have a grindy B2P game.

Anyway, Xfire numbers are now down 78% from the peak.
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