Daily Archives: January 27, 2016

Quote of the Day – The Paywall Cometh

Ultimately this is a business decision, to best support RIFT moving forward into the future. We’re on the cusp right now of RIFT’s 5th Anniversary, and we’ve got great stuff planned for 2016. But that stuff takes engineers and designers and CS and QA and a whole lot of other folks.

-Trion Worlds, on their voidstone plan

Free to play must really be an incredible pain in the ass as a developer because, if nothing else, players will literally assume you mean “free” when you say “free.”

And, seriously, if you’re going to start in with, “Well, “free” doesn’t really mean “free” because…” just stop right there.  The idea was to provide content that players would feel was worth paying for.  If enough people aren’t paying, maybe it isn’t your player base that is the issue.

Or, maybe it is.

As we saw last year with the PlanetSide 2really struggling” post, some players are just never going to spend a dime on your game, no matter the incentives, if you are giving it away for free.  Some are poor.  Some are cheap.  Some just like the challenge of the limited free mode.  And some, I am sure, just want to take advantage.

You can get angry about this, spit nails, and use words like “entitled” all you want, but it was the company which made the game that set the payment terms, not the player.  If you are going to blame the customer for taking you up on your offer, looking in the mirror for the real guilty party is all I can suggest.

As noted in that “really struggling” post, no amount of incentives will induce some players to pay.  And if you cannot induce people with the carrot, well, there is always the stick.  And so Trion is making a change and removing the ability to unlock new equipment slots introduced with the last expansion through a long but free grind, thus forcing players who want to get the unlock from the cash store or by subscribing.  Sounds like a paywall.

Yes, there is a work around still.  Trion’s statement goes on to make the claim that you could earn the in-game cash to buy a REX, the sort-of Rift version of EVE Online’s PLEX, wherein you can use in-game currency to subscribe, more quickly than you could grind out voidstones in order to unlock those  same slots, all of which makes you wonder why they would bother.

Oh, right, somebody had to pay real world money for a REX for it to get on the market, and creating demand for REX will increase its value in-game, which makes it more likely that paying players will buy more.

So the slot unlocks remain free for some, so long as somebody out there is paying.  A somewhat porous paywall, but a wall all the same, and possibly a harbinger of things to come.

I’m really neither here nor there on whether this change is an outrage or a reasonable adjustment.  Even World of Warcraft has their WoW Token offer which they push vigorously enough. So is the old Rift motto getting more or less true as time goes by?

No, not Azeroth!

No, not Azeroth!

Posting this is more a matter of noting how the F2P MMO market is continuing to evolve as the difference between competing games seems to diminish.  The trend will no doubt continue.

But still, it isn’t like Trion is doing anything really outrageous like, say, putting lock boxes inside of other lock boxes.  That requires a whole different level of “customer focus.”

Addendum: And it looks like Trion is on the same track with Trove.

Through the Story in Season 5 of Diablo III

I kept on with my Season 5 Crusader, whom I posted about last week, moving through the story, saving Adventure Mode and rifts and what not for afterwards.  I like the story, and the waypoints… the places where you can stop and pick up again later without having to redo anything… are fairly well spaced.

There are a couple of points where they feel a bit too close together.   For example why, in Act V, are there waypoints present literally the moment you step outside the Survivor’s Enclave, which has its own waypoint, for a couple of the story threads?

But too close is better than too far.  I rarely felt like I had to slog along forever between waypoints, even if I ventured up every side path I could find.

It was interesting to up the difficulty from Expert to Master as well.  There was clearly a period of time after I made the change that things were much tougher.  I died a couple of times soon after the change, but after a while the gear drops caught up with the difficulty and I could once again just pile into the middle of normal mobs and go to town.  I had to be more careful with elite mobs and bosses, a bit of mobility goes a long way in those cases.  Getting out of all those arcane beams is always a good idea.

The only boss I had any real trouble with was Urzael in Act V.  I died twice, very quickly, once his health dropped by about a third and triggered his second stage of attacks.  But, again, the solution was mobility to avoid his burst damage, then back in close to just tank and out heal the rest of his damage.  I favor gear that heals me some with every hit so beating on things is my general solution to taking damage.  The third run at Urzael was a success.

The change to Master also sped up my level progression and it began to look like a race to see whether I would hit level 70 or finish Act V first.  I went into the final fight with Malthael at level 69 with a few bars of experience left to go.  The question was, would the Malthael give me enough experience to get me there.  Well, this is how it turned out:

Fight finish, level cap hit, achievements achieved

Fight finished, level cap hit, achievements achieved

The race ended in a dead heat.  On slaying Malthael I hit level 70 and finished Act V in one simultaneous flash.  A friend of mine happened to be in game as well and got treated to a splash of achievement notifications in his chat window.  I could not have made these two events happen together on purpose if I had tried.

So the story is done and I now have a character at level cap.  Here is what he looks like, having put on the new pieces he got after the battle. (His profile is here.)

Chadwick the Crusader

Chadwick the Crusader

Now I have to wrap up the last two of the first round of Season 5 goals, which involve bounties and a rift.

First objectives

This hasn’t changed since last week

I should probably also look into what skills I ought to be running with.  So far I have just picked what has looked fun and seems to work, but I am going to guess that, if I want to progress through the various Torment levels, I will have to be a little less ad hoc in my approach.

Of course, that assumes I will make it into the Torment levels.  I must admit that the story drives me much more than the end-game of bounties and rifts.  The reason this is my first level 70 character is because the last time I finished the story I got bored with the end game and wandered off to do something else, leaving my previous Crusader at level 67.

I suppose I will have to see what other rewards Season 5 has to offer.