Rift player numbers “way up” after free-to-play switch; “All early signs are good”


Rift had its cataclysmic event in expansion Storm Legion, when planar gates were opened and Colossi descended on its servers. And then it had another six months later, when it joined the legions of older MMOs abandoning their increasingly dangerous subs-marine for the free-to-play lifeboat.

Turns out the new Rift (“No Trials. No Tricks. No Traps.”) has done rather well for Trion Worlds since then.

“I’m actually very pleased with how the team has executed on it,” Trion SVP of marketing Noah Maffitt told [a]list daily. “It was a planned transition that’s taken months and months to do. They’ve thought through all the little details very well.

“We actually saw our sales go up after we announced free-to-play, because we think we have a compelling package around that transition. Our player counts have gone way up, as well. All early signs are good.”

Maffitt’s celebratory sentiment echoes that of senior design director Simon Ffinch, who delved into some of the reasoning behind the switch when we chatted last month.

“It’s something that we’ve questioned ever since we launched,” he said. “We’re continually asking ourselves. ‘Are we doing the right thing? Should we change our business plan?’ We introduced Rift Lite a while back which let players play for free up to level 20 and we considered if we should extend that program and take it up to level 50 while keeping paid for expansions.

“But after looking at where the industry was going and monitoring what our players were asking for we decided that it was time to go free to play. That’s where the industry was going, that’s what our players wanted, we just wanted to remove that barrier of entry so that everyone could just jump in and play under the assumption that if they loved what they were doing and played Rift and thought that it was a great game, they’d buy a hat.”

And yet: here’s Wildstar’s Jeremy Gaffney, explaining his game’s unique subs ‘n’ CREDD payment structure. And Zenimax Online, talking up the merits of the good old-fashioned monthly subscription. Is the path to MMO betterment so clear-cut?

Thanks, GamesIndustry.