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Thoughts and Reactions to the F2P Bombshell

By on May 15, 2013 at 11:15 am, in Article, Editorial, RIFT  |  Comments: 29 comments

free to play editorial title

In lieu of hearing a simple announcement regarding an arrival date for Patch 2.3, we received some other big news yesterday along with that patch date announcement. Yep, RIFT’s going free-to-play on June 12th, which is also when 2.3 will be opening its doors (and Dendrome). Most of us saw the hints of this move coming months ago in between the layoffs at Trion, the addition of the in-game shop, and Scott Hartsman’s departure. Yesterday’s news still came as a surprise to many of us, however, especially given the timing of the news.

Bill “Daglar” Fisher mentioned yesterday that the team had been planning this move for more than a year, but despite the fact that the team pushed one-year subscription plans during the launch of Storm Legion, veteran players were only given one month to absorb the F2P news. Many one-year subscribers are understandably feeling a little let down by this move, especially considering the fact that some are paid up with over 300 days remaining on their accounts.

There’s also the fact that Daglar admitted the following in a recent interview:

“So why now? To be super blunt, if we could have made the transition to this model earlier last year we would have. This has been in the works for quite some time and we wanted to finish Storm Legion before we could really dig into the conversion.”

While Trion Worlds, undeniably, is a business and must think in business-minded terns while making decisions such as the one to delay the announcement of F2P until after players had tossed down one-year subscription plans and purchased Storm Legion, there’s a certain type of trust many players had with the company that they didn’t share with other gaming companies. For many, this trust has been essentially shattered after yesterday.

Trust issues aside, I also personally think that the playerbase should have been given more notice on this massive change to the game we’ve made our home in for these past two years. One month really isn’t a long time for such a bombshell announcement, especially when there are aspects about the F2P move that remain unclear. All in all, RIFT‘s move to F2P has provoked a wide mix of both negative and positive emotions and mixed reactions. Having different pricing options when it comes to choosing how to play a game is always nice, but the fact of the matter is that F2P often carries a stigma that results in one glaring fault– loss of quality.

RIFT‘s frequent content updates, while awesome in the past, have definitely suffered lately. It’s possible that our updates may pick up again once the game goes free-to-play, but the team will always need designers and artists working on new ideas, items, and graphics for the in-game cash shop. Our weekly updates will become cluttered with cash shop deals and sales on top of the bug fixes that may or may not be a bit lacking.

The truth remains to be seen on whether or not this will be what actually happens, of course, but most games that go free-to-play after a certain period of time tend to take on qualities that mirror a giant shopping mall rather than a game that’s simply wide open and ready to explore. F2P games tend to lose a lot of the simplicity that MMORPG fans enjoy about games that feature monthly subscriptions. Monthly subscriptions seem to be slowly becoming a thing of the past, unfortunately, but for some of us, that simple and non-market-y feeling of knowing we pay for what we get upfront was part of the allure of RIFT.

free to play editorial insert

A sizable portion of veteran players also feel that the announced F2P model lacks incentives for veteran players to continue paying a monthly subscription, especially if they are already decked out with level 60 characters who are done with most of Storm Legion‘s current notoriety and currency grinding. The Patron boosts are fairly underwhelming and seem a little more suited toward up-and-coming level 60 characters and players who are still leveling alts.

Now, thanks to Trion not telling us all the details about the system just yet, there may be some worthwhile perks included in the Loyalty/Veteran Rewards crossover (including ways to use the new cosmetic weapon system that is being added to the in-game store) that should be announced soon. For now, we know that we’ll be receiving a one-time compensation of Loyalty and Credits, which is a step in the right direction. Unless something changes, we won’t be receiving a monthly Credits bonus if we choose to keep our subscriptions active, which is something Daglar touched on in a ginormous forum thread yesterday.

In many F2P games, this monthly allowance of credits/coins/tokens is what makes a continued subscription worthwhile. It also allows players who prefer the P2P system to experience a bit of the “pay and forget” simplicity that’s missing from the standard F2P system while still giving them some freedom to pick up random cosmetic shop goodies. While Daglar doesn’t think a monthly Credit allowance is the way to go, he does admit that the team is entirely open to feedback when it comes to improving the veteran Patron system. This is one positive, at least.

Another positive– or negative, depending on how you look at it– is the fact that while Daglar admitted in Reddit yesterday that the in-game store will feature gear with stats on it, he also clarified that the gear being offered will only consist of leveling gear as well as a “variety of dungeon gear” for level 60. No raiding gear or raid crafting components will be offered in the store when the F2P system launches. Presumably, this “dungeon gear” will consist of expert dungeon pieces or equivalents that offer new players and alts a way to grab all of the Hit and/or Toughness necessary to dive right into the raiding foray.

Some players are for this idea, since it will let new players experience RIFT‘s endgame experience quicker, but others feel that any gear offered with stats on it is a slippery slope that edges dangerously close to pay-to-win. If Expert gear is being offered now, what happens two raid tiers later down the road? Will early-tier raid gear also be offered in the shop then? I definitely agree that the ground seems a little slippery when questions like these can even be asked, but unfortunately we won’t know for sure until we see the system for ourselves and take a look at the items in the shop, the costs of the items, and hear Trion’s definitive plans for future additions, Loyalty rewards, and how exactly FEX will be controlled.

From the sounds of it, we’ll be able to preview the in-game shop on the PTS in the weeks to come. That’s when we’ll know more. For now, all we can do is offer our feedback, hope Trion listens, and decide where we stand. It’s a bombshell, all right. Let’s see where the pieces fall.

Laura Hardgrave

Laura Hardgrave

Laura is the Editor-in-Chief for Junkies Nation. When she's not writing long editorials or fighting apostrophe errors, she enjoys exploring multiple MMORPGs, getting inspiration for more long editorials, distracting big snarly things for her friends, and writing LGBT science fiction/fantasy.
  • Biv

    You hit the nail right on the head for me when you said “For many, this trust has been essentially shattered after yesterday.” I have been a supporter of Trion and Rift in particular since closed beta, and have had an active sub since launch. This is the final nail in Rifts coffin for me. The community will continue to degrade, especially if the same type of “community management” (read none) continues once Rift goes F2P. Along with being told that weapon wardrobe was not possible due to “weapon animations” now suddenly being a premium purchase, along with race/faction changes that were also not possible due to “faction and race quests.” Things the paying community has been wanting for years but were impossible are now suddenly possible, but only for a price.

    Trion has gone from a company that I fully supported and defended to one that I am now turning my back on. F2P may be good for business, may lead to more content, but I highly doubt Rift will ever be the game I fell in love with again.

    I don’t mind F2P games, hell, I dont mind cash grab games that are designed to make you use the cash shop if you want to have life be easier in the game. My issue is not about F2P, my issue is with the staff and devs that have done a complete 180 turn in the way they handle the game, community, and communication in the last year.

    • Tony

      Oh, I hadn’t heard about unlocking stuff like weapon wardrobe… :/ Is there somewhere I can read more about that?

      • Tony

        Oh gross, it’s in the article. My apologies, missed that line.

  • SackTight

    Time to play D&D Neverwinter I guess.

    • Joe Velazquez

      BYE!! will miss you!

  • Tony

    I can’t even really figure out what I’m getting that’s worth $15 a month given what will now be free. Supporting the game is great and all — but $15 for minor perks like a bonus to currency drops? Some of the other things they’re touting as part of the subscription are things I’ve gotten as Veterans rewards or for pre-ordering things.

    I was kind of surprised that they don’t seem to be planning to give people store money each month when they subscribe. Kind of like how in LOTRO subscribing gives you so many Turbine Points in addition to the VIP functions. The way the article on this reads now, you’ll get some one time as a longtime subscriber and that’s that.

    Perhaps they plan on handling new updates like LOTRO does too, though. You don’t subscribe — you buy it once. You do subscribe and it’s included in your subscription cost like a rental. No idea.

    I have about six months of time left, so it is definitely annoying.

    • Tony

      Although they claim to have no plans to sell content —

      “We don’t plan on putting any dungeons, raids, or content behind paywalls. We want more people playing together, not a few folks playing in a walled garden. – Bill Fisher, Creative Director”

      I don’t know, guess we’ll see how it goes. I definitely am not feeling like I’m getting much out of my subscription in any event lol

    • Biv

      Thats the problem, they have supposedly been tossing around (working on) F2P ideas for a year, yet only give one month notice and cannot give anything beyond a few vague points on what the F2P model will be. This seems rushed and not fully thought out in my opinion.

  • RIFT

    Thanks for putting your thoughts & feedback on paper – we know this came as a surprise and expected a range of reactions.

    We’re happy to see that the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but we also want to do our best to ensure that all of our veteran players (which I’m guessing is most of you reading this!) feel included & rewarded for your past and future Loyalty to RIFT.

    None of these decisions were done with the idea of minimizing the role you’ve played in RIFT’s success or to tarnish the trust you’ve placed in us.

    We will always do what we think is the best thing for RIFT and take the actions that will enable it to achieve its true potential. We have a lot left that we want to do, and there’s a much bigger story to tell – this transition gives us the best opportunity to realize that.

    And while we have been exploring Free-to-Play since last year that’s very different than pulling the trigger & actually doing it. If we were ever going to do this we had to start planning what such a transition would look like well in advance to make sure we had the time to iterate and do it right. (While also searching deep and hard to make sure it was the right decision to make.)

    Our commitment to delivering top notch content on a regular basis remains & Free-to-Play only reinforces the fact that if we are to succeed we need to keep RIFT fresh & exciting – everyone on this team loves RIFT & wants to work on premium AAA games, but this is a changing market and we need to adapt to achieve that end.

    Seeing the reaction has us very excited for the future of RIFT – thanks to everyone for being a part of our success and for pushing us to constantly make it better!

    James “Elrar” Nichols
    RIFT Community Manager

    • Laura Hardgrave

      Hey James, thanks for stopping by (and for reading my wall o’ text). :D
      The fact that you guys have kept the lines of communication extremely
      open after the news has definitely been the right approach, so I’ve gotta give props there. I hope the communication continues and that our delivered feedback helps make F2P Rift something us veterans do end up enjoying.

  • Mialighthawk

    Goodbye rift i will miss you :`(

  • Ash

    I have not been playing for as long as alot of you guys (I bought the game at launch, took a long break then came back 6 months ago and buried myself in it!) so my opinion on this may be different.

    I am a huge fan of the game and the attitude of Trion towards it. I think the community that has developed around it is fantastic. Very close knit, welcoming and mature. Its put the MM back in MMO for me. I find myself in other games (*cough*) AVOIDING multiplayer activities for fear of complication and bad vibes. No so in Rift and thank you all for that :)

    Personally, I will continue to spend money on the game. Be it subscription, or the same value on shinies from the store. The game (and Trion) needs that to have the resources to keep developing it for everyone, but I hope they do think more about the subscription value to players. Right now, I would not want to be paying for a sub and buying currency to access the cool stuff. There is a middle ground here, lets hope they find it in a month!

    I understand the reasons for it (need more money, need more players etc) I just hope that the sudden influx of new people doesnt dilute damage what is an amazing community.


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  • Vydark

    I think this is a horrible idea the only keep all the young punks out of this game is the subscription. I really think this bad for the rift comunite. I feel like Trion didnt even really see what thier players thought before doing some thing like this. I was to long ago they told us not to worry and that they had no plans on going free to play. I also think the will slow down the content thrown out give us laggy servers again. I am waiting to see where this goes but I didnt already cancel my subscription. To be honest i have lost faith and I am looking for the next MMO that comes out thats P2P and i am jumping ship before this one sinks.

  • Jon Masnari

    “And while we have been exploring Free-to-Play since last year” . And yet the company seemed to deny that they were exploring the possibility seriously. I think Trion must think that players are stupid to think we didn’t see this coming. And frankly, it seems very disingenuous for Trion to lay the groundwork for F2P with one hand (design of x-pac) and deny the “rumors of going F2P” with the other.

    • chs

      Welcome to the human civilization, with double moral and lies, on every levels

  • Eldariol

    Anybody know list of Trion’s team (real names) for boycott them in future?