The seasonal event cycle is a big part of any MMO's calendar. We are now able to escape the Halloween and Christmas holidays through their various oddball incarnations around any number of digital worlds. But one world won't be joining in the festivities: Nexus, the world of Wildstar.
Wildstar appears to be in a difficult phase of its life. The announcement of a switch to a smaller pool of "megaservers" has come pretty early—although Carbine claims it's "a goal we've always had for our servers". The studio has also slowed its content release schedule, aiming for less frequent, but also less buggy updates.
It's this latter point that, it seems, is responsible for the dropping of holiday events that were in "pre-production".
"Having a lot of things planned out like this is great," explains content designer Kristen "Caydiem" DeMeza on the Wildstar forum, "as you can then shift the schedule according to what you see your game needs as things progress on live. Having a fixed schedule that didn't change in reaction to live game information would have been a mistake, and the schedule did shift accordingly."
"Now, holidays are great," she later writes, "but they're not as important as making sure the live game is working well. We took the time we needed to fix things players were already experiencing -- all of the departments -- and that meant that the schedule changed to account for it. But Halloween and Christmas weren't interested in our bug fixes and didn't change their schedules for us.
"When it came to Drop 3, Shade's Eve was more or less done, but it still needed a lot of proper, rigorous testing. With limited-time events, it's even more imperative that your content work and work well, because if there's a show-stopping bug that happens, every hour you spend fixing it is an hour players miss of that content for the year. QA time was vital, therefore -- particularly with some new bits of tech we received. But QA had Drop 3 on their plate, and Drop 3 -- full of many bug fixes and content that would be around all year -- was rightly deemed more important for QA to focus on. Would we have liked to get Shade's Eve in? Of course! But with finite resources, we picked giving Drop 3 the most thorough testing it could get, and it was the right call."
While Shade's Eve was close to done, Winterfest was, in DeMeza's words, a "rough li'l bit of content" when it was cancelled. "Even if we started the train back up now, finishing some part of it, testing it, and getting it out by Christmas would be a tough prospect with everything else cooking. We'd much rather deliver something that's full-featured, fun, and high quality."
"Drop 3" sounds like an important step to defining the game's future, meaning that it almost certainly should be the priority. If anything, though, the scrapped seasonal updates just build into the external narrative that surrounds the game. That narrative partly exists based on an outsider's perspective of what the studio is doing—and also in response to events such as design producer Stephen Frost's recently announced departure. But Wildstar is young enough that it's hard to know where it's going or what it'll ultimately be.
The game is in a transitional phase, basically. And while there are many doomsayers, it's still far too early to make any accurate proclamation about the game's future based on its current events (or lack thereof).