I’m on record here saying I have little interest in WildStar, but that from the outside looking in I think the game has a chance. One reason is the devs acknowledging that their game won’t be for ‘everyone’, and that they accept that. We’ll see if they keep to those words post-release, but I’d rather have a dev tell me that then talk about a 4th pillar or a manifesto of lies.
Reason two, and the topic for today, is the focus on raiding.
To me there are basically only two ways to keep MMO players entertained long-term; either you give them tools and make them create ‘content’ (usually via PvP in one form or another), or you produce content at a rate similar to what players can consume. I think sandboxes aim for the first, and themeparks aim for the second.
Currently, I believe raiding is the ONLY form of themepark content that developers can create at anything close to player consumption levels, and retaining players is the name of the game in this genre. WildStar is focused on raiding, and while that does limit its appeal on the mass market level, it also gives it a real chance to attract a niche and keep it (and a niche in the themepark space could easily mean 500k subs. If you can’t make $15x500k work for you financially, game design is not your main issue).
I also think there is more you can do with ‘raiding’ than what many of us remember it as (40 man, 3-5hr runs in WoW). There certainly is a place for large-scale, top-end raiding, where the upper tier throw themselves against highly tuned, very difficult encounters that, over time, become more accessible (not Blizzard ‘accessible’) to lower-tier guilds. I also think you can have a ‘lower level’ of raiding, where the encounters still take weeks/months to learn/complete, but can be done with 10 players, or with a guild that only raids two nights a week.
I don’t know enough about WildStar to know if they are aiming for some of the above, but if they are or eventually do, I think not only will that allow them to retain a certain crowd, but slowly expand to draw in ‘raiding lite’ players. Either way I’m interested to see what happens, and for that reason alone I hope all the other factors that could doom a game don’t happen to WildStar.