Articles rifts-decision-to-go-free-to-play

Published on June 6th, 2013 | by Terry Wilson


RIft’s Decision to Go Free To Play

“No trials, no tricks no traps” says developer Trion Worlds in the recent decision to take Rift into the increasingly popular realm of F2P. In the past, the majority of free to play games have come under a lot of fire due to less than forthcoming item shop models that create an environment where high level, competitive gameplay is only achievable by spending a sum of money on items only obtainable in the item shop. It is this exact notion that Rift hopes to avoid in its move over to free to play.

Last December when the news came out that about 1/3 of Rift’s developers had been laid off, many speculated that the game would soon follow in the footsteps of other popular MMO titles of the year that failed to bring in a stable revenue under a monthly subscription-based pricing model.

The real question is what this says about the evolving nature of how we play and what we expect out of that play in our MMORPGs. As the betas of Wildstar and Elder Scrolls are quickly approaching, many wonder how these two highly anticipated titles will handle the fickle waters of monetizing the game experience without alienating possible consumers. With tight lips from developers it looks like we just might have to sit back and wait.

But enough about the state of MMORPGs as a whole, let’s narrow the scope and take a closer look at how Rift seeks to make its claim in the F2P gaming sphere.

Rift wants to make it very clear that at no point in the re-structuring of their game that players will be unable to enjoy all of the benefits that the game has to offer. The hallmark of their philosophy behind going F2P is that every piece of the game will be available and at no point in the game experience should a player feel strong-armed into purchasing an item or a service from the item shop in order to make a valuable contribution to either the PvE or PvP experience.

In a video promo advertising the F2P move, creative director Bill Fisher stated that, “anything that will give you more power than another player will only be obtainable in the game”. While this may be true of the end-game content, it looks like players who choose to purchase a few items from the cash shop during the leveling process may have more of an advantage, but only for a short window of time.

So how does the model break down? From a character creation standpoint free players will be able to create up to two characters where owners of the Rift game will be able to create 6. Bags for free players are also limited to 3 but Rift owners can receive 5.

While the game is going free to play, subscriptions models still exist. Instead of subscribing to the game it will instead be referred to as being a “patron”. Patron status can be purchased in 5, 15 or 30 day increments and comes with the following perks:

  • extra currency (15% more)
  • the ability to summon a banker, guild banker or trainer
  • faster mount speeds
  • a 10% discount in the item store
  • boosts to reputation gains and experience
  • and a number of undisclosed perks the longer you remain a subscriber

An open economy will also let players who purchase REX (the technical term for the paid currency) offer it up to others via the auction house for a determined amount of currency that is obtainable via quests and drops.

Have an opinion that you would like to weigh in with on Rift or the F2P movement as a whole? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Since graduating with a degree in game design, Terry Wilson has collaborated closely with both mobile app and software developers. In between contracts, Terry works with Game Design Schools, a resource for those aspiring towards a game design career. When not writing or working, Terry can be found escaping the clutches of ELO hell in League of Legends.

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