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) – plus the excitement of sequential progression through RIFT’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?