Its no secret: WildStar has been doing pretty poorly subscriber-wise since its release. Interest seems to be at such low levels its almost embarrassing to even write a post about the whole game. There’s multiple reasons as to why things are the way they are, but I want to address one specific reason now: the game’s target audience.
WildStar’s big selling point was, as we’ve gone through before, difficult raiding content. And the game delivered on that point, it really did. Why, then, is the game doing so poorly?
WildStar was made to cater to the modern hardcore raider. People who are used to grinding minigame after minigame, doing dungeon speedruns, playing really hardcore when new content is released, and so on. That’s all well and good, but this niche isn’t spectacularly big. Besides, the majority of this niche is already content with World of Warcraft.
That being said, WildStar’s endgame content does have it’s audience. But how about all the other content it has? Questing, housing, all that? Needless to say, the incredibly on-the-rails questing experience took a considerable amount of time and resources to develop. So did the whole level system and the content required for it, from low level dungeons, armour sets and whatnot to all the zones that have no other purpose but to act as leveling grounds, after which they are forgotten.
Despite all those resources spent on the non-raid content of WildStar, it is all very mediocre, probably because it is modeled after modern World of Warcraft. I doubt many people would deny that. Questing in the game for example is incredibly dull, and I cannot think of a reason to appreciate it over any other game’s similar system.
Developing all that mediocre filler content must have been expensive, especially because the game wasn’t even advertised to appeal to the people who typically spend the most time in that content – the casuals. No, the game was sold as a hardcore raiding game. Which begs the question: why the hell was all that development time really spent on the non-raid content?
I realize Carbine was kind of looking to make a better, more modern version of World of Warcraft. But by now we should all know nobody will beat WoW at it’s own game. This is something we’ve been saying for years, yet its what Carbine tried. Now, differentiating yourself as a hardcore raider friendly game might be a good way to specify your target audience, but if you do so and still spend the resources on a ton of mediocre non-raiding related content, I think you are wasting resources. You should be focusing on your niche and not trying to broaden it needlessly.
Had WildStar not had a full leveling experience but a short tutorial instead, and should the only open areas have been cities that would’ve acted as lobby areas, the game, I think, would appeal to the very same playerbase it does to right now. Hell, maybe they would’ve gained a few people because several hardcore raiders were probably put off by the mind-numbingly boring leveling experience. Now that might have actually been financially viable, seeing as a lot of money would’ve been saved by focusing development on the game’s strong points: minigames like raiding and hardmode dungeons.