I received several emails and DM's on Discord asking me what I think about Rift's upcoming 'Prime' server. The "Rift Prime" server will be a subscription only server where content from the past seven years is released periodically to the players. It's essentially the EQ progression server model.
My thoughts? Obviously I'm a huge proponent of the subscription model. There's no doubt in my mind that it is the superior model in every way. Subscriptions make for better games.
Specifically for Rift, I want to point out a quote from the official announcement.
"We have the opportunity to experiment with this fresh RIFT server using an oft-requested subscription model and progressively unlocked content. Our goal for RIFT Prime is to provide the experience that many of you have requested: no lockboxes, a significantly reduced store with more of the current store-based items obtained through gameplay (or removed entirely) â€“ plus the excitement of sequential progression through RIFTâ€™s content with monthly milestones and achievements."
In other words, back to how the game was at launch. Back to how MMORPGs were and should be made and controlled as a business.
Contrast that to the statement they made when they went F2P back in 2013.
"We know that the business landscape has changed over the years. In the old days you could pay for these sorts of games by the hour. I don't think anyone reading this really wants to go back to those days.
There has certainly been a stigma over the years regarding free-to-play games, but that stigma is going away every day as more top quality games are released with quality F2P models that don't gouge the user but instead provide fun environments and good value."
Turns out they were wrong. Enough of their players do want to go back.
I won't get into how their F2P model has been accused more than once of gouging and abusing their players. This mere mention will suffice.
The argument can be made that going F2P saved Rift. Probably. That wasn't the subscription's fault, though.
Regardless, I won't beat them up for flip-flopping. Good for them for doing this, and I truly hope it shines for them.
Whether or not they have a nostalgic, dedicated set of fans who will come back and support that model will likely be the deciding factor. I'm not so sure there's a large community of Rift veterans saying, "Gee I sure with Rift would come back with a subscription model. I'd definitely play!" Or is there?
I posted about this yesterday. The target market looks to be existing Rift players, who may be enticed to subscribe in order to gain benefits for their existing “Live” characters. I’m sure a wave of nostalgia-driven ex-players will be most welcome but nothing in the Producer’s Letter suggests that’s the key audience. If you were feeling cynical you could call it a cash-grab.
The model here is definitely taken from SOE/DBG but not, I think, from the long-running Progression servers that take years to cycle through the many EQ/EQ2 expansions. This is modeled on the “Event” servers that pop up occasionally. They run for a year or so at most and create a huge flurry of interest based on a combination of unusual rulesets and desirable rewards for existing characters on permanent servers. Trion actually said that was the plan back in March 2017, when they floated the idea of “Challenge” servers in another Producer’s Letter.
They haven’t suggested they are going to make any meaningful changes to the way the game has changed over the last seven years. There’s nothing to suggest they are going to do the hard work DBG have done to get as close as possible to the original experience. They’re just going to switch off lockbox drops and gut the cash store. That doesn’t make for a “Vanilla” experience, just the current Live experience with a subscription and a few less of the things that some people (not me) find annoying.
We’ll know for sure when they put out a full FAQ and maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised but on the evidence so far I wouldn’t get any hopes up.
Wow. Original Rift was really terrible. Itâ€™s remarkable to me anybody would want to time lock repeat it.