A couple of days ago Carbine announced that WildStar would be launching with a “hybrid” business model… by which they meant the old subscription model with a PLEX-like option. I share Wilhelm’s notion that it’s not a great idea, because based on what I have seen so far WildStar will boast a working economy in the same sense that World of Warcraft does. Which is to say not at all. But I didn’t feel the need to comment on it simply because I have no interest in WildStar, which as far as I can tell will be bringing nothing new to the genre, and in fact is arriving several years later than the rest of the WoW clones. I could be wrong about that, but nothing I have seen changes my mind. Chalk it up to NCSoft’s long history of backing winners.
Yesterday Zenimax announced that The Elder Scrolls Online will be a subscription game. They didn’t say there would be a $60 charge on top of that, but it’s probably a reasonable assumption. I am sort of interested in TESO, except for the fact that it’s not being developed by Bethesda, the studio responsible for the rest of the hallowed Elder Scrolls series. And the fact that Zenimax seems determined to leave out all the stuff that makes the Elder Scrolls series special, leaving the pedestrian combat and broken magic systems and first-person view pasted over linear themepark content. And the graphics aren’t up to even the shaky Elder Scrolls standard. Aside from that, it might be interesting. I’d have given it a shot if it were, as probably most people expected, free to play, or at least to dabble in. Which is all I personally ask before spending money.
Both announcements seem like they should be surprising. After all, we all know subs are dead for all but the niche-iest games, right? Well, yes. But we should not be shocked that these two unambitious and even cowardly games decide to use the most conservative extant business model. They are, after all, designing games that would have felt right at home released in 2004 alongside WoW, so why not copy WoW’s money model as well?
At any rate, since Zenimax has decided to go with the old model rather than the new model, or instead of heaven forfend trying something new, it looks like I will wait for the inevitable f2p conversion. Which will happen. TESO at least has a big name footprint in the common imaginations of gamers, so it will draw some attention but will wither sooner rather than later. It’s apt to be the newest Sims Online. WildStar, on the other hand, is owned by NCSoft and therefore will simply close. Six months for each?