Many will already have heard the announcement regarding the shutting of Carbine Studios by NCSoft and by extension the shutting down of the studio’s only title, the MMORPG Wildstar. Many would say this is justified as the game, released back in 2014, never did find real traction in the market. But is it? There’s no denying that with player numbers having dropped to less than 200 concurrent players in 2017/18 that the game certainly can’t support the 50 jobs in Carbine’s development team and the decision to close the studio while sad is a fully justifiable act by NCSoft. However, does that mean that by extension Wildstar should be closed too? Personally, I would say no and here is my reasoning:
While 200 concurrent players sounds low, this could mean as much as a couple of thousand players active during a month, as people game at different times. Particularly, when you take into account international time differences. While actively developing content for games takes a lot of resources, keeping a couple of servers running should cost peanuts in gaming terms, and should surely be a cost that could be covered by the current number of active players.
True, Wildstar, isn’t perfect. It has it’s flaws, like most games, but it also has some elements that just aren’t available to the same quality in any other MMORPGs available at the moment. Such as, the housing system and the combat system which are the reasons many of its surviving player base have stuck with it, through the years. It’s not as simple as just packing up and moving to another similar MMORPG, as there isn’t one.
Wildstar isn’t just a game, it’s a community. This, I think, is the best reason that NCSoft should keep the game running in maintenance mode. The community that has grown in Wildstar, over the last four years, may be small but it is a passionate one. A community that cares about the game and the world it portrays. By killing Wildstar you aren’t just ending a game, you are killing a community.
A player’s characters in a MMORPGs represent a massive effort in terms of playtime and money spent. MMORPGS aren’t games that players just play to completion and then leave on a dusty shelf. Players will have devoted 100s even 1000s of hours of game time into developing and kitting out their characters and housing plots, making them a true extension of themselves. Do they not deserve to have the option to continue to support the game and keep access to those characters they’ve work so hard for over the years?
There’s no doubt that over the last four years Wildstar has proven to be niche a product, but does that mean that it deserves to die? The game has a style, through gameplay, visuals and writing, that is all its own. It has its own world, its own lore and its own community. A community that would be happy to, and I believe can afford to, fund the game’s upkeep and maintenance. If private servers can be sustained by just a few hundred active players then surely the current Wildstar community can fund the NCSoft corporate servers needed to keep the game running, if given a chance.
The decision of NCSoft to shut the game down reeks of corporate laziness and a complete lack of understanding of the connection a MMORPG generates with its player base. The decision of what becomes of an MMORPG should be made with games community in mind, and it is clear in this case that this hasn’t been done. The community was not consulted as to this decision or given any option to raise funds or put forward suggestions to save their favourite game’s future. Is this moral? Is it ethical? No. But is it legal? Unfortunately, Yes.
All I can do, is to call on the management at NCSoft to take another look at the game and the community that they are set to end and to contemplate what other options are open for it. The Wildstar community has grown to love their new home of Nexus and just want an opportunity to save it as can be seen in the petition linked here: which, as of posting, already has over 1800 signatures.
My Wildstar subscription began on day one and continues to this day. I would gladly continue to pay it to keep the game and the world of Nexus alive, and I’m sure many other members of the Wildstar community would be too. Wildstar won’t last forever, no game has or will, but I certainly do not feel that the time is right for it to meet its demise this day. This is a unique game with a unique community.
Will NCSoft cement their reputation as MMORPG killers or will they reconsider and take a look at the viability of keeping the servers running for those players that call it home? Let’s hope that NCSoft can find a little compassion in their hard corporate hearts and give the Wildstar and its community the chance to survive.
To finish here are some of the petition comments. A number of which are very touching and heartfelt and really convey the connection the game has developed with it’s community.
“To some, Wildstar might just seem like a game… But to me, it’s a place I’ve found happiness and peace for over two years. The friends I’ve made, the challenges we’ve faced and overcome together, the creativity and positivity of this community, is something that simply can’t be replaced. I’m not ready to say goodbye to this world…”
“I’ve been in my share of MMOs, but Wildstar, to me, is one of the most fluid, intuitive, and overall unique MMOs out there. A blend of action with a serious plotline, mechanics that are both familiar and yet unique, and a bit of cartoony and quirky humor thrown in but well balanced to remind you that this is an entire WORLD. A living a breathing universe that really wants to stand out. Games like these are rare and I want to see this one live on.”
“This game is like our home. we’ve watched our characters grow. we gave them cool costumes and did great stuff in housing. There’s no other MMO like wildstar, and when its gone, we might have no other game to go to.”
So, from me, please NCSoft! If nothing else, think of all the poor hoverboards. Where will they go? How will they survive without us players to ride them and refuel them? Save the hoverboards! Save Wildstar!