More like the energizer bunny.
As reported on Kotaku yesterday, Carbine and Wildstar are closing shop. This should come as a surprise to no one, given we’re 2+ years from their crash at launch. It’s still sad that people are losing their jobs, and sadder still that something with Wildstar’s charm is going under.
I’m sure over the next year or so, we’ll get more insight into what went wrong behind closed doors. There are already enough rumors about the original management teams’ way of thinking… and that the hoverboard was done under the table by a separate coder. Hindsight here will be worth a lot to any developer.
When Wildstar launched, I joined a guild of fellow bloggers – led by Liore. I rather enjoyed the first few weeks, and the trip to max level. I more than enjoyed the art style (squid head), and the controls were good enough to keep you engaged. The world felt cohesive, and the story made sense. The player housing was some of the best I’d ever had a chance to play with – and seeing how other players managed theirs was a lot of fun. There is a LOT in Wildstar that worked. Hell, I still have guides on this site for playing it.
But it launched too early and too aggressively. Core functions that make an MMO work just didn’t exist. Guild tools were rudimentary. Finding other people was a mess. Skill/item balance at max level was nearly non-existent. Dungeons were dramatically over tuned. Incentives were applied to speed, even for starting dungeons. Raids (when it did come) were just meat grinders. Open world bosses were zerg-fests, and open-world events were designed for organized raid groups – not pugs. They built these lovely islands of content to consume, and rope bridges to get there.
The first month went by and the guild dropped by a solid 80%. The stuff to do at max level… well it just wasn’t doable. There are some stats somewhere…but I do recall that only 1000 people ever set FOOT in the first raid zone, let alone completed it. Attunement quests anyone?
Months of player base crashing, a F2P conversion that was not accompanied by any game changes but a money shop (TESO was smart enough to do better), and infrastructure that couldn’t even bother to scale to the demand influx. It took the worst parts of MMOs, because those are easy to replicate, and didn’t include the best, because those are so hard to make.
It survived for so long due to a passionate player base, despite the lack of new content for nearly 2 years. It brought an interesting vision to the table, but failed to pull off the execution. It seriously misjudged the available playerbase as frothing at the bit for extra hardcore MMO, which history has pointed to being the exact opposite on multiple occasions.
MMOs launch and attract players with features – the stickyness factor will always be other players. Putting up roadblocks for those players to assemble, and find some nominal success is a recipe for disaster. There are just too many solid alternatives that have a working model.
So long Wildstar.