The other is that the game was fundamentally flawed, broken to the core. Enthusiasts can ignore bugs, can look over unbalance, wait for “we’ll release it when we’re ready” feature and above all, they bring in their friends to play.
I needed no explanation why all these happened, I had the result the moment I’ve seen a video of the game about the beta and decided “no way”. The broken core was the telegraph action combat system. Don’t get me wrong, many successful games use telegraph action combat, League of Legends and Overwatch being the most well-known. But neither one is an MMORPG and for a good reason.
It’s bizarre that basics need to be explained to people who develop games for living. It’s like having to tell a chief power plant engineer that perpetuum mobile cannot be made and why. But let’s do it again:
Each genre of gaming focuses on one kind of “skill”. Those who like to hone this skill, find it fun to do so will be attracted to the genre. They are attracted exactly because they want to hone that skill. Everything that distract them from it (besides random, progression-irrelevant flavor stuff) hurt their fun.
For example FPS fans value the skill of quickly moving the mouse to the head pixels of the enemy. It’s a senso-motoric skill. The FPS games are purposefully bend everything for this one skill. The characters can turn back at infinite speed which is completely impossible for soldiers that the games formally simulate. Because the game is not simulating soldiers, the combat setting is just a lore-background, you are not roleplaying a soldier trying to stop terrorist, you are playing a “move cross to pixel faster” game, and if character turn speed was limited, it would put an artificial ceiling to your “skill”. The maps are fixed and few, because the players don’t want to be distracted by having to find their way or map the place when they focus on moving that cross. Any FPS which isn’t about moving the cross for the win will either fail – or like PUBG – the community ignores the other parts and just plays for headshots anyway.
The “skill” in MMORPGs is long-term planning and disciplined execution. Players collect items, reputation points, currencies, quest counters for progression that takes place over thousands of hours. While many games have thousands of hours of play by enthusiasts, those hours take place in thousands of independent short matches. In MMOs, it takes place in the same “round”, today session starts with all the advantages you collected in the previous days. You have more “stuff” than a newbie and players support that. Otherwise, they wouldn’t play.
The core MMO player values discipline (think of raiders with schedules and leaders), planning, “effort” and dependability. This is the setting they want to play in. Everything else distracts them. Putting action combat in an MMO is like putting year-long character progression into an FPS. Imagine that Counterstike would announce that you’ll have a persistent character that will get traits over time and a 2000-hours character will have 10x HP, 5x damage, 2x speed than a new player. The game would die in an hour, because players would be outraged that the combat isn’t won by the “skilled” (the one who moves crosshair to head faster), but the “lowly nolifer” who “grinded” out the upgrades.
This is exactly what Wildstar did. They created a game where players should collect items, get upgrades, play with a persistent character, while their progression wouldn’t depend on the mentioned things, but mainly on their ability to respond fast to telegraphed attacks. Players probably didn’t even got to the point of being outraged that progress goes to the “twitch-kiddies” instead of the “dedicated good players who make the necessary effort” because they vomited looking at the action combat in a video and refused to even try it, like I did.
An MMORPG must be very light on twitch-skill and heavy on planning, disciplined and organized play to succeed.
As a piece of good news: I think much of the development of Wildstar can be salvaged, by using the assets to make an Overwatch-clone. The classes would be the heroes, the combat system is perfect for that kind of game and the iconic places could be used for arenas. So Wildstar can shine, just not as an MMORPG.
Alternatively, Wildstar could be rebooted by dumping the action combat system for normal tab-targetting, 1.5sec GCD, skillbar casting MMO. Without double-jump, of course. The setting is clearly loved by many, the dungeons, bosses are already there.
PS: Warships update: since I take a break after every defeat, the amount of wins grows fast: