Rift F2P

Rift is going free-to-play on June 12th.  To me this was never a question of if Rift would go F2P, but when.  Rift’s numbers are declining as all games do over time.  To be honest, they made it quite a long time for never quite being a true blockbuster success; much longer than most.  EQ lasted forever because it initiated a paradigm shift.  WoW is still doing relatively well for the same reason.  Rift is/was just another good game.

Trion’s big marketing strategy with this F2P transition is to clearly state that players are getting complete AAA MMO experience for free.  You only have to pay for certain things like boosts, mounts, gear, and expansion souls.  All story, all level, all raids — all content is free.

That’s a great strategy, and really the only one I believe can possibly work for a true “AAA F2P” MMO (if such an oxymoron exists).  Let’s look at their execution.

rift free to play
All content in Rift will be completely free.


Having a sub to Rift gets you boosts.  Whether they’re slowing everything else down like SWTOR, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.  As a Patron (their name for a subscriber) you can get bonus mount speed, more reputation, more tokens, more currency, loyalty rewards, and those types of things. It’s the whole “you want to pay money to not be at a disadvantage” trope. Will it be enough to get people to subscribe?  Personally, I don’t see the real benefit.  I’d rather buy these as I want them individually.

Selling Gear

Here’s the big one.

“We will also have gear for sale. Our guidelines for gear on the store are generally as follows: The best gear in the game must be earned and high-level items on the store must also be available to be earned in-game.”

That is vague; I can interpret that to mean you can buy the best gear in the game.  All X are Y but not all Y are X type of logic.  Regardless, it’s pay-to-win unless your definition of winning is to only have the best stuff instantly.  If I can buy the second best stuff right when hit max level, then jump in the next day with the second best gear and start earning the best, that’s winning to me.

This whole conversion is going to do really well for Rift.  I’m absolutely positive that they will see more people playing, and more revenue as a result.  However, F2P is a short-term strategy for MMOs.  Trion forfeits Rift’s credibility and sense of being a genuine AAA game.  Transitioning to F2P will do very well early for the game, but it will expedite the end even if it only makes people consider there being an end, thus that in and of itself diminishing their future possibilities.  Rift’s love group is being served with the realization of the game’s mortality, and I’m confident that the long-run will suffer as a result as those love-group-players lose their desire to stay and start looking for a game without a future dictated by altering design to earn the most money.

I’ll give the game a shot now (I was going to anyway since Raptr gave me 30 days free AND the expansion free…) and maybe give the game a bit of coverage from a ‘how does it play free’ perspective.  That’s precisely what Trion is hoping thousands of people will do.

  • I really liked Rift, I especially liked that they tried some new things like Rogue Tanking – I genuinely and effectively tanked the original Dungeons as a Rogue then simply swapped to “Ranger” on exit and went on my solo, questing way.

    The Rifts themselves got a bit tedious but they were enough to inspire subsequent games to use similar events (though I know the inspiration started with WAR’s Public Quests).

  • Just to clarify the devs did an AMA on Reddit where they answered many questions. One of them being the answer to the buying loot question. The answer was only dungeon level loot can be bought on the cash shop. Nothing higher. I can live with that.

  • I played a free trial back when it launched, but at the time I was still pretty into WoW. I only got to like level 10 or so in the trial and stopped, because it just felt like another WoW to me. It had some neat sounding ideas, I just never got deep enough into the game to see it all.

    Been playing Lite the past few days because of the Raptr promotion, and now with it going F2P I’ll probably end up playing it over the summer while I wait for WildStar and whatnot.

  • the fact remains as it is over the years. F2P is the last stand of a dying MMO and not another “business model”. As for the games that it star as f2p, this is why they are not even in the state of a dying AAA MMO, but worse

  • My guess is that the goal of selling gear is so that instead of doing PUG’s to get entry level gear so your raid guild doesn’t have to boot you, you can buy that entry level set. Since the cash store currency can be resold for in-game plat, this means that everyone can “win” in this way.

    Ironically, this might actually IMPROVE the quality of the community in the random group finder pool, because people who do not want to be there don’t have to be. I maintain that turning the group finder into an everyday chore for the entire playerbase is a genre-wide mistake – if you are only doing the content (which you no longer need) for the tokens, of course you’re going to want to get it over with ASAP.

  • Rift has some really great polished group dungeons and raids. F2P will get me back.

  • Compared to some of the other releases of recent years, I actually enjoyed Rift. I think I eventually quit (at 49…my protest quit!) because I didn’t see any long term RVR goal. You were able to chase enemies around the map but killing them was pointless. I need to review their PVP changes…

  • Loved the graphics but generally just a riff on the WoW style mmo. Got my moneys worth at release but not enough new to the genre to pull me away from any of the other ftp mmos.

  • I think we’re well past the point where F2P games forfeit their “credibility” and sense of being a “true” AAA game. It’s essentially the standard in the MMO and MOBA scene right now, and I certainly don’t look down on a game just because it’s F2P. Maybe in the past, but not now.

  • MOBAs aren’t MMOs. Totally different depth, totally different scope.

    “AAA” MMOs going F2P do so as plan B, and quickly fizzle as a result. MMOs starting F2P never reach “AAA” status. I’ll issue the same challenge I do every single time: Find me a MMO that starts F2P and is considered “AAA”, or find me a MMO that turns F2P that doesn’t do so because it is failing.

    We’re not past it, we’re just now turning the corner where more people are beginning to see reality. Free isn’t better.

  • Nothing is actually free. If we aren’t paying money (subscription) we are paying in other ways such as quality, content, etc.

  • @Drathmar: Absolutely, and in a “free” game you end up paying more for less. The value proposition flips on its head, and what you’re left with is a game not designed to be a great game anymore, but a wet towel being wrung out for every last possible drop.

  • To me this discussion is pretty much wrapped up when I hear the following: “pretty good for a free game”…

  • Free isn’t better, but it isn’t worse either. F2P games have their own cash shop failings, and subscription games have tons of problems too. You can go for months without any new content updates, paying the whole time, and they’re filled with artificial gating and time sinks expressly designed to slow your progress and lengthen your subscription. At least with F2P games you can choose which content you want to pay for and when.

    I agree that subscription MMOs go F2P as a plan B, but they hardly ‘quickly fizzle out’. Usually profits and subscriptions increase, and games that would have been shut down years ago are still going strong and adding new content all the time (ie LOTRO).