Remember back in October of last year, when Trion announced that Spindrel, the spider mount originally included in the RIFT Canadian Collector’s Edition, was available for all players to purchase? The mount was offered in a package that included the other Canadian CE perks, and players all over eagerly shelled out ten bucks to ride around on a unique spider mount (well, until the mechanical spider was introduced in Carnival of the Ascended). Now it seems Spindrel has a buddy– the Armored White War Tiger Mount.
This white tiger mount, first made available yesterday, was originally part of the Korean Collector’s Edition. It’s very close to the 36-month veteran reward mount, which was previewed on the PTS in March 2012. The only difference? This one’s equipped with cool armor. Oh, and carries a “special limited time” price tag of $15. And isn’t bundled with extra goodies like Spindrel and the CE Tartagon are.
The move is taking quite a few RIFT fans by surprise for a variety of reasons. Some players are upset about Trion introducing microtransactions at all, but for those who remember the Spindrel episode, this next move seems to make a bit of sense, at least. Spindrel was a hit, and players love collecting mounts. Sure, these mounts are available in a purely-cosmetic “cash shop” of sorts, but it’s also important to remember that these items weren’t created solely for such a shop. They were created for various CE editions. All Trion is doing is making them non-exclusive, and gaining some extra money for doing so.
One of the common complaints regarding microtransactions, besides the whole pay-to-win argument which doesn’t quite apply yet, is the idea that oftentimes, when developers add a cash shop, less design time is spent on new content, and more time is spent on designing cool mounts, pets, and costumes for players to buy. The fact that these mounts aren’t newly-designed by Trion’s team pretty much negates the chance of that altogether. Unless, of course, the trend continues.
And that’s what players are really afraid of when they see items like this made available for purchase. Will Trion continue this bright idea, and make a real cash shop, complete with all kinds of obscure items that take away from design time and possibly even lead to items that impact gameplay and character progression? We’ve all seen games head down that road, and the sight’s not pretty. It’s hard to say exactly without a Trion representative commenting, naturally, but looking at the history of the items and the way in which they were added– I honestly don’t think we have to worry.
Trion’s subscription model works well, thousands of players are happy with RIFT, and the company is truly a leader in swift MMO content addition. With the well-received news of Storm Legion, I’d say we’re in safe hands. All Trion is doing is giving us a way to grab cool items that were originally made for players in different regions. And given the amount of players I’ve seen riding around on the white tiger so far, I’d say that the idea to do so was a solid one. With as many satisfied RIFT fans as there are, some are more than happy to shell out some cash for a mount as an effective way of saying “Thanks for the great game!”
Despite the largely-positive reception to the tiger mount, other players question its cost. $15 for a digital mount in a video game seems pricey to many people, especially those not familiar with other games like World of Warcraft and TERA that do exactly the same thing, yet charge more. Trion’s past bundles of both Spindrel and the CE Tartagon were quite cost effective at only $10, and included other items. This tiger is sold separately, costs more, and its price may go up in the future. Is simple inflation at hand here, or does Trion think tigers are super cool? Hard to say, but it is a little odd.
At any rate, the tiger looks super cool, and it’s probably safe to say that Trion will continue running specials like this if the tiger is a success. So far, it seems to be. Now, how much do we want to bet that Trion adds at least three differently-colored tiger mounts in Storm Legion? Make it so! I’ll take one in orange, please.