Carbine has released the details of the planned transition of WildStar from subscription only to a sub-optional model, commonly known as Free-to-Play. Those maintain a subscription will be called Signature players, and those who do not are simply Free players. A cash shop with “completely optional in-game purchases that cover a wide range of player services, convenience options, and cosmetic offerings” will also be implemented.
Players can acquire the game, create an account, login, and play through everything the game currently has to offer without spending any money. However, unlike The Secret World or Rift, rather than merely giving Signature players additional benefits (e.g., XP bonuses, crafting bonues, etc.), Carbine will place certain limits on F2P players.
If you are a Free player, you will be unable to form a guild or invite others to a guild, you will be limited in the number circles you can join and will also be unable to invite people. The number of items you can have for sale or on order at the same time on the auction house and commodites exchange will be severely limited compared to Signature players.
Future major content updates are likely to be purchasable through the cash shop, much like “Issues” and mission packs in TSW. Basic updates (patches) will be available to all players, regardless of subscription status.
Carbine is also implementing a loyalty rewards program that will serve to unlock perks, some of which will make even Free players more like SIgnature players. Some of those perks include the ability to create guilds crafting bonuses, and more. More details of loyalty program will be revealed in the near future.
All in all, the F2P scheme is thoroughly in the middle of the pack. While not the most player friendly model I have seen, it is certainly not the most restrictive. The average Free player will probably not feel the limitations too keenly, but there are limitations compared to what is currently avaible to subscribers.