The Wild Release of Carbine Studios WildStar F2P

When I first heard about the critically-acclaimed MMORPG WildStar going free-to-play, I was fascinated. As a gamer, I had fallen in love with WildStar – I loved the flexible style of play, its satisfyingly deep and complex lore, its gorgeous and inventive art and music, and above all its sense of humor.

Carbine Studios f2p wildstarThe social media fan in me was immediately impressed with how the parent-company, Carbine Studios, developed a robust cross-platform strategy for the public-facing channels. And as the September 29 F2P launch date approached, I found it a delight to watch Carbine kick out the jams in the social media sphere to invite the world to come check them out.

Here are just a few of the things I personally feel Carbine did right with publicizing their F2P release:

  • They had a great story to tell, and the wisdom to stick to it. 
    One of Carbine’s greatest assets in the marketing of WildStar is it’s distinctive “MAD Magazine meets The Wild, Wild West in Space” style. Carbine has had great success in making promotional videos that reveled in this humor, as you can see from their well-populated YouTube channel.
  • Storytelling reinforced by updated, smooth gameplay.
    Carbine prudently decided to redo the entire new-player experience with the updated of F2P, making it both simpler, and yet more informative. This can be an expensive decision as a producer, but a wiser choice for the end user (player). Carbine also seemed to embrace the need for the F2P model to be equitable both to free and paying players, which reassured current and future players concerned about the new model.
  • Developed a strong social media foundation. 
    Carbine Studios already had a strong track record of engaging their customers (both established and potential) through their social channels. They have a highly active community on Facebook and within Twitter. The Carbine team operates their Twitch channel like champs, with regular dev live-stream shows such as “Casual Friday” showcasing new features. In the ramp for the F2P launch, a lot of their social media strategy actively addressed the changes, and engaged the community with the benefits, as well as addressed concerns. In fact, they even utilized giveaway campaigns and their social channels to build an adventurous ramp of information – taking entrants through a tour of the WildStar social media content of sneak peeks, community activities, and updates.
  • They brought WildStar to the public.
    Of course, there were giveaways and promotions (most notably an app-based sweepstakes with some genuinely fabulous prizes). But there were also unique stunts, such as arranging for the F2P release trailer to be shown in New York City’s Times Square, with WildStar super-fans and devs onsite. A lot of the content captured was then shared for the Release Day’s marathon Twitch livestream, which hosted more giveaways, and all manner of entertaining on-screen silliness.
  • They stayed in touch, even when things got gnarly.
    Inevitably, any new software release shakes loose some unanticipated bugs. Even with Carbine’s strong closed beta test period (they had hordes of players clamoring for a beta test invite), there were some painful server issues on release night as unprecedented volumes of new players mobbed the game and queued virtually for access. Carbine’s social media team took a wisely light-handed touch in replying to the often-frustrated posts and tweets, patiently and non-confrontationally giving the latest updates while refraining from feeding any trolls. Needless to say, their approach was appreciated as loyal fans organized a large pizza delivery to the devs slaving over the server issues.

ellen wild starAnd this is just the beginning: immediately after F2P launch, Carbine started rolling out even more new content, in the form of limited-time events for Halloween and for “Back to the Future Day” (the latter featuring hoverboard races!). Next on tap is a new season of PvP tournaments, plus a satirical Holiday Season event as only WildStar can pull off. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Ellen Brenner
Project Manager

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