And so another once proud MMO has fallen from grace. Trion Worlds announced today that their reasonably popular MMO Rift would be shifting to a free-to-play model starting June 12. According to Creative Director Bill Fisher Rift's free-to-play model will feature, "No tricks; no traps." All content -- quests, chronicles, continents, dungeons, raids, levels -- are available for free. Rift's story will offer a variety of standard FTP MMO fare like boosts, customizations and... err, gear.
Rift's woes appeared to begin after the release of last year's expansion Storm Legion in November. Since then the game's much lauded updates and content patches have slowed to a crawl (perhaps due to the free-to-play conversion), the game's loud-spoken anti-free-to-play Executive Producer Scott Hartsman left in February, and now we're going free-to-play with purchasable gear.
Here's what Bill Fisher has to say on the sale of gear in-game:
"We will also have gear for sale. Our guidelines for gear on the store are generally as follows: The best gear in the game must be earned and high-level items on the store must also be available to be earned in-game."
I'm an old-fashioned MMO player that was a big fan of Rift and Scott Hartsman's attitude toward the free-to-play business model. To me, a lot of Rift's soul left with him and the near-constant release of content updates. This move to free-to-play, and moreso the sale of gear, is just... depressing. I'd always wished Rift would be able to exist as a niche experience with a dedicated fanbase like what Everquest became. Instead, they're deconstructing the experience in a search for that dolla dolla bill y'all.
Make sure to check out Massively's full interview with Bill Fisher, as Justin Olivetti does a great job of putting him through the paces to get to the heart of the story. Of course, none of Bill's responses are particularly revelatory or surprising, but it's good to hear these questions are still being asked.
Rift goes free-to-play on June 12 and if there's one thing I can say without doubt, it's that you should try it if you haven't already.