The MMO market is larger than it’s ever been. There are quite a few quality games available now for MMO fans, and more are scheduled for release this coming year. With this kind of competition, many MMO developers are taking steps to attract new players and keep the attention of veteran players. The first step? Creating a quality game. Trion has succeeded there. The second step? Making that game accessible.
Some MMO companies are converting their games to a free-to-play model in order to make their game more accessible to their player base and still bring in a profit. Other companies, like Trion, are taking a different route– the trial version route. RIFT is now free, up to level 20, for new players and returning players. This announcement was made a few days ago. The details about this free version, also known as RIFT Lite, can be found on Trion’s official site.
Trion isn’t the first company to go this route. Following in the footsteps of World of Warcraft and Warhammer, RIFT Lite will allow players to explore Telara up to level 20 without the restriction of a timed trial. This is great for players who are searching for that special ‘something’ in an MMO but are on the fence about the game, or wish to explore more than one character. This is also great for players who are thinking about returning to RIFT. The game has gone through a ton of changes since its release, and players may find the current game more enjoyable.
Whatever the reasons players have for choosing to try out RIFT Lite, the goal’s simple– to attract more players to RIFT. Considering the recent revamping of the starter areas, Trion picked the perfect time for this addition. Sliverwood and Freemarch mobs don’t aggro as easily as they used to, and the addition of soul presets will grant players a simple way to experiment with different souls.
There’s no mistaking the fact that simplicity often attracts players to a new MMO. When RIFT was first released, many players complained about the heavy mob densities. Not all classes are able to deal with multiple pulls easily during early levels, and rough pulls are often made more difficult if players are still learning the game. Those players may find the starter areas more to their liking now, and may give the game another shot. Other players may have found the initial soul placement decisions a little complicated, and will love the idea of being able to experiment with suggested builds.
This will hopefully create a surge of life in the starting areas of Telara, and encourage players of all levels to stick with the game. Some of the best RIFT moments we’ve all shared are the moments where a map is full of life, conflict, invasions, rifts, and zone events. A dynamic world needs players, and the early level maps can especially benefit from a higher population.
There’s also the fact that after the recent release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, some MMO gamers are seeking an alternative home. The Old Republic experienced a successful release, but isn’t for everyone who tried it. No game is perfect for everyone. The beauty of the expansive MMO market is the fact that players are able to seek out alternative homes. There’s something for everyone out there. The timing for RIFT Lite really couldn’t be any better given this little piece of information.
Many players understandably wonder about the future of RIFT given the release of RIFT Lite. Many ask themselves if this is perhaps the first step to Trion taking the game in a free-to-play direction. Let’s look at World of Warcraft for a second. WoW’s starter version has been around for a while, and is utilized constantly by returning players curious about the game’s current state. It does not mean Blizzard plans to go free-to-play with it. All it means is that they’re offering players a trial version without a timed restriction.
This is exactly the route Trion is going, and it’s a smart move in my opinion. Players are able to constantly keep tabs on RIFT with this trial model, and if a player is interested enough in RIFT to keep tabs on it, they may be willing to resubscribe to it at a future date. And that’s where everyone wins. Trion gains the possibility of players subscribing or resubscribing, and players are able to keep tabs on RIFT without having to feel pressured to make a decision within a certain time limit.
The other obvious benefit to this system is the fact that a trial version doesn’t include any type of microtransaction system that incorporates actual game-changing items. This leaves Trion free to keep focusing on developing new content additions and fixes to current game issues instead of spending time making trinkets of +4 experience boosting or whatever. This also leaves RIFT’s community free from any of the glaring issues many free-to-play games currently experience.
A trial version is not the same thing as an entire game that is free-to-play. In a trial version, the emphasis is still placed on garnering interest in the game itself. If players enjoy the game enough to level to endgame, they will subscribe. In a free-to-play model, the emphasis is often placed on the socialization and leveling aspects of the game, so players will buy temporary items in order to enjoy the game for a little while, then move on to something new.
In a subscription model, endgame matters. And RIFT is very much about endgame. The emphasis of this is based on all of the content expansions we’ve experienced since the game’s launch. The sheer amount of raid content alone is staggering in comparison to many other MMOs on the market. The fact that we’ve already seen a major new endgame area added, Ember Isle, shows us that Trion is serious about endgame.
Simply put, all the trial version does is let RIFT speak for itself in a manner that is easily and widely accessible. It displays the game for everything it has to offer. Nothing more, and nothing less. Either players will enjoy RIFT or they won’t– RIFT Lite lets them explore Telara on their own time, and find out if it’s the game for them. The end result can only bring some new life into Telara, and new life can be an awesome thing for an MMO.