NCsoft's sci-fi MMO Wildstar could be in the cusp of abandoning subscription charges.
A new listing for the game on SteamDB suggests that the game will be free-on-demand” whenever it eventually appears on Valve's service. That's the name used by all free-to-play games on Steam.
The data is mined from back-end changes to the digital platform.
Wildstar was released less than a year ago last July. Despite a warm critical reception it's perceived as having struggled to maintain users.
Publisher NCsoft has certainly never released any firm figures, although in February it was reported that the game's revenues for Q4 2014 stood at $5m. That was down from $14.6m in Q3 2014 and $25.6m the quarter prior.
PC Gamer reports that in Q1 2015 the game made just a quarter of the revenue recorded by the company's second lowest earner, Lineage II.
Last October developer Carbine cancelled the release of previously scheduled Christmas content for the game. NCsoft later insisted that Wildstar still had a future, claiming that sales had been many, many, many times” his 250k estimate.
If Wildstar does drop subscriptions in favour of free-to-play it will be in good company. Many titles have done exactly the same including The Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Lord of the Rings Online, Champions Online and DC Universe Online.
There are some notable exceptions, of course. EVE, Final Fantasy XI, and World of Warcraft all still demand monthly payment, although the latter suffered a big dip in paying subscribers in Activision Blizzard's most recent quarter.