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Carbine Studios' WildStar is the latest premium MMORPG to abandon mandatory subscriptions in favor of a monetization model that will see the entire game becoming free-to-play this fall.
Carbine is one of the few studios that still operates a premium MMORPG, and it was hit hard by layoffs last fall as parent company NCSoft shifted to focus on "new business segments" like mobile game development.
WildStar itself saw a steep drop in earnings after its release; the game generated over $25 million in revenue for NCSoft in the fiscal quarter it was released, but six months later NCSoft's earnings report pegged it at quarterly revenues of just $5 million.
After it transitions WildStar to be fully F2P, the studio plans to drum up revenue by offering optional premium memberships that provide players with "convenience bonuses" and opening up a storefront to sell in-game cosmetic items for real money.
For a deeper look at the challenges faced by the developers of WildStar, a game "no sane human being would make," check out the interview with executive producer Jeremy Gaffney we conducted last year. Gaffney stepped down as president of Carbine shortly thereafter for both personal and professional reasons.