How To Market ‘WildStar’ Going Free-To-Play

The classic model for the MMORPG (massively multiplayer roleplaying game) was to get customers to pay for a boxed product, and then sign up for a monthly subscription fee. Increasingly, this has become harder to sustain as more and more MMORPGs became free to download and play, making their revenues from sale of in-game items. A number of games have made the change from paid to free-to-play, and the latest is NCSoft’s WildStar. NCSoft and developer Carbine Studios have announced that WildStar will become free-to-play this fall.

“At the beginning of 2015, we outlined key points of focus for WildStar to help make this great game even better, focusing heavily on player feedback and bringing meaningful changes,” said Mike Donatelli, product director, Carbine Studios. “We continue to deliver on those points and feel strongly that removing the subscription cost will give everyone who loves MMOs, or just wants to have an incredible gaming experience, a chance to try WildStar.”

Over the next several months, the studio will share more details about how this transition will impact current and future players along with more detail on the significant improvements coming to the game. Mike Donatelli, product director for WildStar, shared some thoughts with [a]listdaily about this transition and how it’s being carried out.

Mike Donatelli

What led to the decision to move WildStar from a subscription model to a free-to-play game?

Back in January of this year, I laid out in an address to the company my three major goals for the year. One being that we would focus on player feedback and cultivate players and make sure we were making the game more fun. Second, update the game with different types of players in mind — we wanted to make sure that people who liked crafting and short session gameplay were being handled. Finally, that we would keep growing the game, and that we’re vested in making WildStar a better game, and that we’re going to keep growing the game.

Part of may address was talking about growing the game, and the best possible way for us to grow the game and drive millions more people into it is to going free-to-play. We are going to remove the box price, we are going to remove the subscription price, and just let players get the game and play.

It’s not easy, going from a game where you charged for the box and charged a subscription to a free-to-play game. How did you prepare to make this transition?

It wasn’t a decision that we jumped into lightly. There were some really important things for us as a studio that we wanted to set in place before we did this transition. We want to communicate those to our existing community. One, Carbine and NCSoft have been very committed to making WildStar a great game, a AAA game, and that commitment is going to continue in the future as we go free-to-play. The second part, which is probably the most important part, is that all of the areas in our game, all of those pieces of content, will be available to all of our different kinds of players. We will not hide content behind pay walls. We want to make sure players understand that WildStar is for everyone. Third, for those players who are currently paying a subscription, we are developing what we call a Signature Membership, so if they want to continue to pay a subscription — a membership fee, which is what it will be called in the fall — they will get additional bonuses and rewards for being part of the Signature Membership program.

What sort of in-game purchases will you have?

Since we’re going to go free-to-play, we’re going to sell things. We’re going to use a currency we call Carbine coins that players can use to buy cosmetic or convenience items. We also have sweat currency we call Omnibits, which just means that a player during his normal game play can earn Omnibits and but the same kind of cosmetic or convenience items. It just allows players who want to play free-to-play to actually be able to progress as well. We will not sell power.

Why should players be excited about this news?

The biggest reason is us taking out all these obstacles, we think it’s going to have the effect of millions of people coming in to WildStar. If you read any of the forums, there’s just a huge percentage of players out there who, for whatever reason, didn’t jump into WildStar for the last year. A lot of those players said “I would totally play WildStar but I don’t want to pay for the box” or “I don’t want to pay a monthly subscription fee.”

Having a huge influx of players makes the game better for everyone. Queue times are decreased significantly, group content is easier to achieve, there’s just a great feeling of running around a zone with lots of people. It’s a great experience.

Why should new players be excited WildStar was the highest-reviewed MMO of 2014 according to Metacritic, it is a way better game now than it was even then, and they should be excited there are no barriers to them getting in and trying it. Also, a reason that all the players should be excited is this isn’t just the transition that’s happening in the fall. We are making massive adjustments to the overall game experience. We’ve completely revamped the tutorial in the early game so onboarding is smooth and compelling.

What will you do for existing players who’ve been paying a subscription fee for months?

We’ve added this loyalty program for former players. Players who’ve been with us since the beginning, all the way from launch until now, they have so much loyalty built up that the stuff they can get from the plan is crazy. But even if you tried it for three months and you want to come back, you’ll have three months of built-in loyalty with lots of points to spend.

Anyone who continues to be a subscriber from the day we announce this through the transition, there will also be special awards for those players. We love our loyal players, they’ve helped us get to this point, and we want to make sure they get rewarded.

Michelle Phan Boosts Beauty Vloggers With Ipsy Open Studios


YouTube’s biggest breakout beauty guru, Michelle Phan, has launched a free program for other beauty entrepreneurs to have access to tools and advice to advance their careers. The program is under the brand Ipsy, which is a monthly beauty product sample service with over 1 million subscribers and more than $150 million in revenue annually.

Ipsy Open Studios will provide those who want to follow in Phan’s footsteps with not just studio space, but audio and lighting equipment, an editing suite and mobile apps and digital tools. Michelle Phan and staff will provide mentoring both at the studio and through Google Hangouts.

Over 1,000 participants so far are vying for spots in the free program, as the platform could be immensely helpful in building important skills and business relationships.

“Those are the people creating the next generation of beauty brands. If we can provide a platform for all these beauty creators as they’re growing up and getting more famous, it builds an affinity between us and them,” said Ipsy co-founder and CEO Marcelo Camberos.

“I’ve built the roadmap for the past eight years for any beauty creator,” said Phan. “It’s something I had to build out, and now I want to go into the next stage of my career and mentor other creators and pave a new road.”

When Phan had started her venture, the YouTube beauty guru as we know it wasn’t a community and brands hadn’t yet conceived of the influence beauty vloggers now hold.

“The sphere of influence is shifting entirely to digital content creators. For years, the beauty brands have been creating their own beautifully produced content and putting it up on YouTube and Instagram, but the problem is no one was watching it. Now, they’re recognizing that Michelle and her peers have the influence and authority,” said Jennifer Goldfarb, Ipsy co-founder and president.


Nintendo’s Next Console May Use Android

Even though Nintendo is still in a distant spot behind the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in system sales, it’s giving a decent push to the Wii U as of late, behind a forthcoming E3 showcase and the recently released Splatoon, which is performing quite well. However, it’s already begun planning ahead for its next piece of hardware, the much-rumored “NX” console system, which will likely be revealed during 2016’s E3 event.

All Nintendo has said so far is that it’s working on new hardware, and more details would be released in 2016. However, some interesting rumors have emerged, indicating that Nintendo could be taking an interesting turn by basing its new hardware on a version of Google’s Android operating system.

Forbes published a story indicating that Nintendo is heavily considering using a version of Android as the operating system for its new console, based on a report from Japanese newspaper Nikkei. Nintendo, as usual, had no comment on the rumor. Android has already been used for consoles like the OUYA and Amazon’s Fire TV, and more recently Google’s new Android TV initiative is resulting in consoles like the Nvidia Shield. So it’s not a difficult feat technically, but such a move would mark a huge change for Nintendo. The company has always created its own operating systems for its proprietary hardware in the past. That’s an enormous amount of work, and it’s getting increasingly difficult as hardware becomes more sophisticated with a broader feature set. Moving to Android, which is freely available for use by any manufacturer, could have multiple benefits for Nintendo.

With adoption of Android, Forbes’ Dave Their believes that developers would return to make games for Nintendo again – a move that would be a huge boost for Nintendo considering the overwhelming abandonment of Wii U hardware by third-party developers. While Android-based consoles haven’t performed well in the past – OUYA is having such struggles that it’s looking for an independent partner to invest in it – Nintendo could easily change that, given its previous strength in the console market. With Nintendo’s recent deal to bring many of its popular properties to mobile devices (with the help of its partnership with DeNA), there would already be a base of Nintendo games on Android. More importantly, perhaps, using Android at the core of the NX hardware would make it far easier for developers to create games for the hardware.

Mashable recently posted an opinion piece provided more details on how that might work. Said author Adam Rosenberg, “it’s more expensive to develop cross-platform games for Nintendo’s console as s result of that hardware divide. PlayStation and Xbox are both based on the present standards in personal computing, but the Wii U is not. That’s why Nintendo’s robust library of first-party games isn’t complemented by familiar favorites like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.”

“A switch to Android isn’t without its benefits for Nintendo, however. It’s a much more online-connected platform than anything the company’s ever released, for starters. There’s already a (long overdue) unified account system coming, allowing users to carry one profile across an entire family of Nintendo devices. And an Android-powered machine could be the first step for that,” he continued.

Rosenberg brought up more popular examples of popular Android-based games on the Nvidia Shield, such as Borderlands the Pre-Sequel and The Talos Principle – properties that Nintendo is sorely lacking on the third-party front. “Android is the headline name here, but the real news lies between the lines of this rumor: a hardware shift is necessary,” he concluded. “Google’s OS depends on the same ARM architecture that PlayStation and Xbox do, so PowerPC – the real obstacle for the Wii U in this hardware generation – has to disappear.”

Clearly, one of Nintendo’s biggest problems with its current hardware has been the slow pace of new releases, both from Nintendo itself and from third-party developers. For the NX hardware to succeed, Nintendo will have to make more games appear more quickly. Moving to Android could convince many developers to give Nintendo another shot, as it would be far easier to develop for than previous Nintendo hardware. Of course, much would depend on exactly what form the NX hardware takes, its features and pricing, and the degree to which Nintendo decides to enable and support third-party development in general. Android by itself isn’t a magic wand, but if true this is certainly a step in the right direction for Nintendo.

We’ll see what surfaces for Nintendo come next year. In the meantime, its line-up at E3 2015, consisting of StarFox, Mario Maker and other titles, should be quite impressive. And we might just get a glimpse of its mobile line-up as well…

One Billion More People Will Connect To The Internet By 2019

With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT), wearable tech and other online accessible devices, there’s no question that online accessibility has come a long way. And according to a couple of new reports, it’s going to get even bigger.

First up is a report from Cisco’s visual networking index, as originally posted via Re/Code. The report indicates that one billion more people will be connected to the Internet over the span of five years, which in turn could create a global digital middle class.

According to the chart above, by 2019, there will be a significant increase in Internet users, devices and connections, and faster broadband speeds than ever before. In fact, broadband could be moving twice as fast within this span, and, as a result, video viewing could pick up from 67 percent of overall traffic to 80 percent.

Connected devices will also be on the rise, varying in a number of areas, such as health, energy and use of devices in home. This means even more Internet of Things-related devices selling in stores, and becoming more widely accepted with audiences.

And as for Internet usage, it’s growing at a staggering rate. This year alone has seen improvements in gaming, Internet video and web/data numbers, but by 2019, they’ll go even further, with video leading the charge and gaming taking up a bigger chunk, by nearly double its original size in 2014. No doubt eSports competitions and online friendly games will play a big part of that, since gamers like their competition.

However, even though Cisco’s report indicates that things are on the up-and-up, global Internet usage still couldn’t be any more different. A recent report from Statista shows that the “digital divide” is still pretty big, with some countries reporting much lower numbers than others.

This chart, for instance, shows that Europe is the leader in overall Internet usage, with 77 percent of its individuals using it this year. Closely behind at 66 percent is the Americas, including the United States. Meanwhile, Asia and the Pacific are down to 36.9 percent, while Africa is at the bottom with 20.7 percent.

These numbers are likely to change, however, and show growth in all regions. It’s just a matter of how the devices are introduced, if the new broadband speeds are affordable, and how much of a convenience it can be to people, no matter what they prefer doing. We’ll see how things fare in 2019…

Image source

Lego Takes On ‘Minecraft’ With Its Own Worlds

Minecraft is easily one of the biggest games out there, with millions of players partaking in its blocky world on a daily basis and over 100 million copies downloaded. It’s become the most popular title for videos on YouTube, and Microsoft was so confident in the franchise, it purchased MInecraft developer Mojang for a whopping $2.5 billion.

But what does this mean for the competition Well, with the right boost, it could find an equal, if not greater, success, depending on the concept – and considering how much people like building with Legos, it seems like a proper fit for a Minecraft wannabe.

Per VentureBeat, WB Games has announced that it has launched Lego Worlds, a wide-open building adventure where players can create structures, worlds and characters using various Lego pieces. The game just made its debut on Steam Early Access, and is available for players to try for $14.99.

Like Minecraft, Lego Worlds enables users to use their imagination to put things together, using many building blocks from various Lego properties as well as the ability to create your own custom character and select from various accessories. In addition, the developers at TT Games are looking to add even more features to the final game, including the ability to play with friends in multiplayer, and the creation of randomly generated underground cave networks.

However, Lego Worlds is unique in its approach. Instead of focusing on battles with Creepers in Minecraft, the idea is based upon creating incredible worlds to explore. It’s like taking a virtual Lego stash and building something for all to see – very similar to the real toys themselves. However, that’s not to say that enemies won’t be included, as Skeletons and other random foes may show up.

Said TT Games about the release, “The current plan for Lego Worlds is to be in Early Access through 2015, at which point we hope to have our full list of features in place. We’ll evaluate a release candidate in early 2016, but we won’t consider the game complete and ready for release until we believe our community feels we have delivered a great game.”

WB Games has been betting quite a bit on Lego franchises as of late, with Lego Jurassic World {link no longer active}, based on the film series of the same name, debuting later this month, not to mention the interactive toy/game series Lego Dimensions making its way to stores later this year, featuring a number of popular franchises like Batman, Back To the Future and The Simpsons, among others.

Whether Lego Worlds will be a success in the long run has yet to be seen, but if anyone can literally build its franchise to greatness, it’s TT Games and WB Games.

The trailer for Lego Worlds can be found below.


NBC Tries New Streaming Plan With ‘Aquarius’

For a number of years, NBC has been all about being a broadcast channel, showing programming on television first before adding it online for viewers to catch up on after. With its latest series, however, it appears that the company is trying something new – and it could happen with other shows as well.

The show Aquarius, featuring X-Files alum David Duchovny, will be making its premiere on the channel tonight, but immediately after, instead of just the initial show being available to view online, the entire season will be posted, so “binge” viewers that can’t wait to see what happens can jump ahead. NBC will deliver the remaining episodes for broadcast over the next few weeks, for those who prefer tradition.

This latest business model by the company is being made in an effort to keep up with the growing popularity of on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu, which has thrived with a number of original offerings like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. But is it a business model that can work in the long-term “Maybe,” according to an opinion piece over at Variety.

“In all likelihood, scheduling a two-hour premiere episode right under distributing the subsequent 11 episodes on and other places is going to prompt the segment of the audience that loves the series most to peel off for the binge opportunity and not return to the linear window for the traditional weekly rollout of future episodes,” said co-editor in chief Andrew Wallenstein in his editorial. “Maybe Hannibal would have been a better show to try this strategy with because of the cannibalization NBC is probably going to induce to Aquarius‘ linear viewership.”

NBC has struck deals with a number of advertisers to try out the new format, as, according to the article, “advertisers can get paid for a measurable amount of eyeballs regardless of where they watch, which means the linear ratings loss that VOD could divert may be okay.

“But the devil will be in the details of the deal NBC has struck with those advertisers for the Aquarius arrangement (the network declined to comment on the particulars). The CPMs that NBC is charging them to reach advertisers on both platforms may not be equal, which will pinch the network if linear loses too much to VOD.”

Aquarius, at the very least, is being a test for the format, and new shows (or more popular favorites, such as Grimm) could see a similar format if it’s successful. The question, though, is how to measure that success, as NBC has stated that it doesn’t know if it will be sharing binge data from the show just yet, according to Vulture.

Still, there are benefits to those who take the online route, as explained in an interview with Aquarius creator John McNamara, through Indiewire. He explained that there are “two versions of every episode,” stating that “the version you’ll see on NBC is sexual. The version you’ll see on iTunes is NC-17.” However, he didn’t disclose when these release plans would take shape outside of VOD.

While the fate of Aquarius‘ business plan is questionable, fans shouldn’t hesitate to tune in to the premiere anyway, as the show could easily be on the same level of addiction as Hannibal and Grimm. Learn more about the series on its official page here.

Snapchat Raises A Lot Of Money, A Few Months After Raising A Lot Of Money

by Sahil Patel

Snapchat eventually wants to be known as a media company. The Los Angeles-based startup now has even more money to make that possible.

According to a filing with the SEC, Snapchat has raised $537.6 million from a group of 35 investors in the past few months, and hopes to raise as much as $112 million more as part of a massive $650 million round. Even without the additional capital, Snapchat has raised more than $1 billion in the past year alone; it raised more than $485 million in a Series D round that closed at the end of 2014.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.