Free-to-Play Is Not The Way Says WildStar Producer

Free-to-play may work for some games, but it’s not the way to go according to Wildstar producer Jeremy Gaffney.

These days it seems like more and more MMOs are changing from a monthly subscription to the free-to-play model. Even some very big titles such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and World of Warcraft have their own version of free-to-play. However, there are games out there that decide to sick with the “pay-to-play” model such as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online.

One hotly anticipated upcoming game that also sets to buck the free-to-play trend is Carbine Studios’ WildStar. As an MMORPG set in a sci-fi universe with a very imaginative art style, WildStar looks set to be a very successful title. Players are given an initial 30 days of playtime with the purchase of the game. Afterwards they will have to choose between two options offered for a subscription. By offering players two different ways to subscribe to their game, it seems the producers at Carbine Studios hope to cater to a wider audience.

First off is the traditional subscription model with a variety of options ranging from a monthly subscription all the way to a yearly subscription. Depending on the length of time you pay up front the cost for each month’s amount of play time differs (cheaper if you buy one year at a time versus one month at a time).

The other option players will have is to buy C.R.E.D.D. (Certificate of Research, Exploration, Destruction and Development). Similar to systems found in RIFT (REX) and Eve Online (PLEX), C.R.E.D.D. will be available for purchase with real-life money and can later be sold in-game for in-game currency.

Players can then use the C.R.E.D.D. they bought in-game to pay for subscription time. In this way, players who are unable to afford a monthly subscription but have a ton of in-game gold can still continue to play. Also, those who have money to pay for a subscription but don’t have a much in-game gold can obtain currency easily.

WildStar producer Jeremy Gaffney recently spoke with PCGamesN and shared his thoughts on the free-to-play model:

“There’s variability as a player because you don’t know if you’re going to get sucked in and pay $1,000 a month, because some people do. As a publisher it’s a juggling act because most the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that one or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free.

“As a publisher [that variability] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?”

I think he makes a very good point. With many free-to-play games devolving into “pay-to-win” where players pay cash for in-game advantages it’s unfair for those who simply wish to enjoy the content but can’t afford the other features.

As for myself, I like the idea of giving players options. It shows the developers are concerned about their players and are willing to be flexible. One thing’s for sure, with more and more games turning to the free-to-play model it will be interesting to see how the C.R.E.D.D. system will work out.

How about you? Do you like the C.R.E.D.D. system? Or do you wish WildStar would offer a straight-up free-to-play option? Let me know in the comments below!