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Does Scott Hartsman’s Departure Mean F2P Is On The Way?

By on Jan 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm, in Article, RIFT  |  Comments: 14 comments

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It’s entirely possible that the unexpected departure of Scott Hartsman from Trion Worlds means little for the future of RIFT. While Hartsman undeniably had an influence on the game and its development, RIFT is being left in the capable hands of Daglar, Dahanese, and other familiar faces. That being said, there is one particular topic that seems now up for debate in the wake of this change, and that’s free-to-play.

While perhaps not outright against the F2P model in MMOs in general, Hartsman became known as certainly not a supporter of the payment model in his games. After spending many years with Sony Online Entertainment working on Everquest II, Hartsman left — first to create his own company, and later to join Trion Worlds — shortly before the game launched their free-to-play option. Although he never spoke out directly against F2P at the time, it was heavily rumored that the payment model change pushed him to explore other opportunities.

RIFT has remained one of the last few subscription MMOs in a sea of casual F2P titles, and this time it seems to be directly attributable to Hartsman. He said in an interview with Eurogamer in November, 2011, “One of the assumptions people make is you can just take a game and throw a switch and change the model. For starters, you’d have to decide that that would be a good thing, and I do not think it would be — that would be a fairly large net negative for RIFT and the RIFT community.” Hartsman continued by explaining that the free-to-play model relies on a game securing “whales”, or big spenders, and that this changes the mindset and goals of MMO development.

It’s of course impossible for us players on the sidelines to know exactly what’s going on in the glass offices at Trion Worlds, but it is a fact that Scott Hartsman was a powerful advocate of the subscription model, and RIFT no longer has that advocate.

Is free-to-play on the way? A month ago most people would have said there was no chance, but now.. today it suddenly seems a lot more likely.

  • Eric Sita

    Whatever keeps the game pumping out excellent content. I do not see any slowing at the moment. Obviously the Expansion is still fresh in peoples minds so the people getting bored quitting not happening yet. I hope for sub still.

  • 2kgamer

    Dahanese… development … that’s some serious lol. She’s Director of Community, and barely knows anything about that role, let alone game development. Anyone who’s dealt with her on any of the games she’s worked on knows she’s all about herself. Just watch the rift streaming shows and you’ll see. She even fired some of the best people on their team to free up money to hire a buddy from what I hear, and has since pissed away nearly all communication with players. To say someone that works in PR or on a community team has anything to do with development is seriously just bad press. Hartsman is smart to get out, I’d say. Just look at the layoffs they recently had. The game is tanking. It’s sad, too. It was a great game, but some poor decisions, some bad additions to a company, and poof!

    • Addictmage

      His name was Walsingham, and yes he WAS very cool. He was the lifeblood of community and was just like one of us. I hope to see him pop up in another game one day. He embodied what it was to be a liaison for players. He’s working on some sort of movie at the moment (this time the name escapes me). He’s very entrenched in the gaming community. In fact, it was very top secret that he was a member of Addiction. So secret, that only a handful of people in the guild even knew. Those of us who are acquainted with him know the story well, but I don’t think he wants the majority of it public.

      Let’s just say that his removal by Dahanese was extreme constructive discharge. I’ve seen some of the actual emails and evidence myself, and the lady is definitely off her rocker and was clearly a psychotic hose beast to someone who didn’t deserve it. From what I saw, she didn’t know Tuesday from Sunday, couldn’t stay on schedule, had poor communication skills, and constantly missed deadlines, and when she did she would blame it all on other members of the team. Once she wanted him gone, she turned it on hard and was all over him. Made up lies about work done, and when he was at his desk, and she was pissed that he was using his PTO for a car accident he had been in. He even had to report to her via Skype when he had to go pee and when he returned to his desk. How ridiculous is that? I don’t even have to do that at Wal-mart, let alone a multi-million dollar gaming company. Or maybe all of Trion operates like that, and everyone has to report pee breaks. I can’t say.

      Again, this isn’t specualtion, some of us who know Walsingham have seen the proof in the pudding, though this was some time ago. It’s downright scary how this woman operates and how clueless she is. I remembered thinking to myself when they hired her, “Is this that same psycho woman from 2k?”

      • Walsingham

        Hi guys. I appreciate the kind words, but regardless of what did or did not happen to me while at Trion, I’d prefer to be left out of it since I am no longer part of the equation. I wish Scott and everyone else at Trion the best in their future endeavors. Everyone on the team is extremely talented, and I consider all of them my family. Bacon!

        • Laura Hardgrave

          Long live the bacon! <3

        • Kyera

          God I miss you, Walsingham. Thanks for being the one guy to actually respond to the community mailbox, among the other great things you did.

    • fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

      She loves her booze and pills.

  • hardy83

    We’ll find out later today I guess when the second half of the state of the game is announced.
    Personally I think this game could thrive on a hybrid model.
    The newest content (currently Storm Legion) could be paid monthly content, and chocolate could be free to play. With obviously things in the shop like convenience potions (xp, valor etc), mounts and costumes.
    Add one time account-wide purchases like entry to raid and experts/masters ($5 each or something)
    And I think it would be pretty successful.

    Of course it could go the buy to play route, or complete free to play. Though I wouldn’t want the latter of those two.

  • Samuel Serafim

    “Is free-to-play on the way? A month ago most people would have said there was no chance, but now.. today it suddenly seems a lot more likely.”

    100% agreed.

  • Randeth Corinth

    I definitely hope not. I think that F2P can work well if the game is designed for it from the beginning. But most games retrofitted to F2P have gone badly. Plus I think the player base of Subscription and F2P games are different and I strongly prefer the former.

    But Trion has done well with Rift so far so here’s hoping they continue.

  • Even

    The fact that Defiance is heading for a business model very close from GW2 is another hint it may happen to Rift soon.