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Trion are to scrap the requirement to pay a subscription fee to play Rift, their well regarded MMO. From June 12th, players will be able to create and play through the content from the base game, and the recent Storm Legion expansion pack without charge.

Rift’s free-to-play model marks a change of heart at Trion. Currently, Rift allows players to play Rift Lite for free; the first 20 levels of the game. Up until late last year, that was still the plan going forward: when we spoke to Scott Hartsman, the former executive producer of Rift, he felt the way forward was to retain the subscription while extending the Lite program. “What’s developed in the time since,” says Trion Creative Director Bill Fisher, “is a much wider acceptance of well designed free to play models.”

There will be no price for entry: players will not need to buy a box like rivals The Secret World and Guild Wars 2. The same goes for updates and expansions: “It is our goal to keep the content in Rift free - even as we move into large expansion territory,” says Bill. Free access, he says, “is the most requested feature since the game launched.” As Bill puts it, Trion want to create a free-to-play game that “truly provides value and entertainment when you choose to chip in, instead of simply adding a toll to remove pain. We want to be in the fun for good value business, not the ‘make the hurting stop’ business.”

The upcoming item store will stock experience and notoriety boosts (anyone who has grinded his or her way to the max notoriety level with Dragonslayer Covenant or Order of Mathos might file that under “make the hurting stop!”), tokens, currency and other convenience items. There will be a roster of vanity items for your characters and dimensions and mounts (and presumably pets). The item shop will also offer services that include gender, faction and race changes. Souls (Rift’s answer to talent trees) made available in the Storm Legion expansion will also be available for purchase. 

Gear will be available to buy, too. 

There’s always a question in free-to-play games on whether it turns into a pay-to-win experience, and Trion acknowledge that buying gear may be controversial. “However, the best gear in the game must be earned,” explains Fisher, “and high level items on the store must also be avaialble to be earned in the game if they have a high credit price.” 

When the free-to-play switch is flicked, current players can continue their subscription, which will grant them a “patron” status. This comes with convenience and gain rate benefits, alongside a stipend of in-game currency. Although new players will have to pay for bigger bags, bank slots and additional role slots, those who previously subscribed will not lose anything from their characters. For them, Trion claims that Rift will play exactly the same as it did before: just without a subscription fee. 

The switchover takes place on June 12th; in the meantime, Rift’s patch 2.3: the Empyreal Assault will be on the servers soon, unlocking the new Dendrome zone.

Check out Free to Play FAQ and the announcement trailer below:

See how Rift's switch to free-to-play measures up against everyone else's (Hint: very well!).

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