Rift to go Free to Play on June 12

I was wrong.

Another subscription MMO caves in, unable to make a go of things on monthly fees alone.  Or they feel that the grass must surely be greener on the free to play side of the fence.

Of course, my prediction was back when Scott Hartsman was still on board and before they put the cash shop interface into the game.  And with WoW, the game Rift sought to out do by speed and emulation, dropping subscriptions in huge, game killing chunks (for any game except WoW), the subscription model takes has taken another blow.

Anyway, Trion has announced that Rift will go free to play come June.  They have a video and such on the official site.  And a producer’s letter.  And a FAQ.  And an interview over at Massively to reinforce all of this.

They will even have something called REX, which sounds remarkably like PLEX.  You think?

The beginning matrix of who will get what has been announced.

Subscribers, expansion, and free levels

Rift, Storm Legion, and free levels

People who subscribe will now be called “Patrons” and will get a set of benefits.  Will they be worth $15 a month to people?

Call me "Patron"

Call me “Patron”

That feels more like World of Tanks, what with the short term options available.  They are certainly trying to mix in all they can.

But still, the cash shop will now rule the roost and new content will likely falter while Trion begins the endless race to figure out what will sell best.  Those who buy from the cash shop will drive the game going forward.

Some people will be cheering, feeling that every game needs to be free, that there is only one right model.

Others, whom like me, have been unhappy with the rot that cash shops can bring, will be less enthusiastic.

Either way, it will change the game.  Nobody can deny that.  And it will likely bring in some new players to start.  But eventually the cash shop chase will begin.

What do you think?

Addendum: Green Armadillo has some thoughts on Rift’s new plan.

8 thoughts on “Rift to go Free to Play on June 12

  1. Tesh

    I get a chuckle out of it. The whole MMO market right now is an interesting case study in saturation, price anchoring, inertia and marketing. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Fascinating, but not a market I’d want to be making a living in.

    RIFT itself only vaguely interests me. I played it for a while, and it was… competent. I like the Soul design, but playing the game wasn’t anything all that exciting. Not bad, really, just kinda… there. I get that feeling from a lot of MMOs, actually. RIFT changing business models seems like another of those inevitable moments that you can see coming in the train wreck, but not a particularly pivotal one. It’s just another large boxcar buckling under the market pressures.


  2. Matt

    Well, if being able to play at all isn’t worth 15 a month to people, I’m not sure why they would be enticed by a few benefits.

    The subscription model is dead for all but niche games, but IMO F2P + cash shop ends up being worse for these kinds of games. The real challenge is that the MMORPG market is contracting and all these games are fighting over a shrinking pie.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    This all triggers my economic skepticism alarm.

    Trion seems to be telling me that once my current subscription expires, I should not need to give them any more money. The benefits of subscribing seem pretty minimal and all the content is free. I have all the character slots I will ever need. I am done.

    Sounds great! No tricks or traps, as they have said.

    Only, at some point, they are going to need somebody to give them some money. They cannot leave the touch of the cash shop so light that nobody feels they need to visit. So at some point something akin to tricks or traps will show up, or we’ll be saying farewell to Telara permanently.

    We shall see.


  4. bhagpuss

    What I think is that the £150 we spent on two Rift Storm Legion + 12 month packages last November is the single worst investment I have ever made on a computer game. I’ve logged in maybe four of times. I think Mrs Bhagpuss logged in twice.

    Back then we estimated we’d be about done with GW2 by Christmas and we planned to go back to Rift and do the new expansion after that. As it turned out, far from being done with GW2 we’ve both played the skin off it non-stop ever since and show no signs of stopping any time soon, while even a couple of hours in the Storm Legion zones turned out to be a couple of hours too many for both of us.

    I loved Rift in beta and liked it a lot in the first few months from Live. I still like the original zones and I can pootle around for hours in them. In retrospect, Rift Lite was enough Rift for me and had I not bought the Storm Legion pack I’d be very happy indeed to see the game go F2P. As it stands I am sufficiently irked about the wasted money and there are so very many other strong alternative free MMOs on offer, that I can’t imagine going back.

    As for whether cash shops damage MMOs, I believe it depends on how you play. They have virtually no impact on me. If anything I kind of like them, although I rarely spend any money in them. I’ve always loved window-shopping in real life and I like it in MMOs too.


  5. João Carlos

    @Bagpuss “As for whether cash shops damage MMOs, I believe it depends on how you play. They have virtually no impact on me. If anything I kind of like them, although I rarely spend any money in them. I’ve always loved window-shopping in real life and I like it in MMOs too.”

    Sadly, that depends upon HOW the cash shop is made and what items it have. GW2 have cosmetics and pets and a non limited use pickaxe (that I think it is gone now). That do’nt have any real impact to gameplay, but I see some people that need buy that pets or that quagan backpack, so they are making money. We need wait for see what Rift will put at the cash shop…


  6. bhagpuss

    @ Joao Carlos – No it doesn’t. That’s my point. I don’t play MMOs competitively. It makes literally no difference to me whether someone else buys every single item in the game, all their xp and skills and wears a big hat with “I Win” on it. Why would I care what someone else has or how they got it? How would I even know?


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – I generally don’t care what other people have so long as it doesn’t impact my game, which generally solo or small group related.

    On the other hand, I do find that what the cash shop sells has an effect on how I feel about a game, regardless of the fact that I am in no way obliged to purchase or use said items. And when the game strays into things I find morally dubious at best, like the whole lock box thing, that sours me quite a bit.

    Logic need not apply, my emotions quite clearly guide me there.


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