Scott Hartsman, one time head-man of RIFT, the man with apparently the best dressed photo of all devs on the planet, sat down to have a discussion with Forbes.com. Since RIFT’s launch, RIFT has gone from a full subscription game with no trial to having a Rift-Lite version where you can play the first 20 levels for free. Now that Scott has left Trion and rumors swirl around the internet that Rift is heading towards a full F2P model, we get a glimpse of the future of gaming subscriptions according to Mr. Hartsman.
Continue reading to see what he had to say about the subject.
The subscription model was a great way to keep everything paid when MMOs were a lifestyle choice, a hobby. MMORPGS had more in common then with a game like golf. Now players simply aren’t willing to commit to the subscription model as large audiences. Subscription models aren’t going away, but the fact is we’ve hit the cap on players looking to embrace the subscription model and free-to-play models have really opened up doors to a new audience. Users don’t stay as long as they used to.
With the first-generation MMORPGs players used these games to make friends. Now players are bringing all of their friends from game to game, and they all have different amounts that they’re willing to pay. So players that have all the hours but don’t want to spend money they’ve got a spot, and the players that don’t play as much and just want to pay for perks, they have a spot too. It’s all about finding business models that serve larger numbers in a fair way.
So what is in store for the future for Scott Hartsman? We don’t know, but we are eagerly awaiting what project he will work on next. Hartsman has never been the head of any game development from inception. If you recall, he came on board RIFT when it was still called “Heroes of Telara” with a very different design in mind.
Scott does bring up one interesting point, he doesn’t believe the sub model is dead. If you were to ask John Smedley, he’d disagree. These two people have their roots in online gaming development in Everquest, and it will be very interesting to see how the genre advances. Smedley has an upcoming project in Everquest Next, and if it’s anything like Planetside 2, it’ll be completely free to play with a cash shop attached to it.
Will Scott Hartsman’s next project, if he chooses to dive back into the gaming market, be free to play or subscription based? We can’t wait to find out.