[RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

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Psia
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[RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Psia » 03/07/18

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From premium to free-to-play and back again: Why Trion Worlds keeps making changes to Rift's business model

Back in 2011, Trion Worlds released fantasy-themed MMO Rift into the wild. The project launched with a premium business model, but in early 2012 shifted gears to free-to-play.

Yet at the start of 2018, Trion revealed Rift Prime - a premium version of the game that did away with loot boxes and other in-game purchased. We caught up with CEO Scott Hartsman to find out a bit more about this decision.


Why launch a paid service for Rift?

We’ve wanted to do a progression server in Rift for quite some time. The experience of everyone being on an even playing field is some of the best fun that massive, open-world MMOs have to offer.

When we decided to take the plunge and start working on ours last year, we wanted to focus on the gameplay. We felt that the audience who’d be most likely to enjoy that gameplay would find this choice of model the most attractive.

Is it fair to say this is a reaction to the loot crate controversy at the end of last year?

It definitely didn’t go unnoticed. We took the industry-wide outcry as validation of the direction we were headed in, and it gave us a strong push to go out even more loudly with the ‘No loot crates here’ philosophy for the Prime service.

We’re in the business of serving and entertaining fans - period. But the ‘business’ part of that sentence is important too. If the fans here really do want to vote against loot crates by joining a paid service, we’re happy to give them the chance. We need to find a way to deliver entertaining games in ways that are desirable to our audience. That’s on us, and this is one way of trying to serve them better.

Rift went free-to-play in 2012. How has developing the game changed with this shift in business model? Anecdotally, I’ve heard that with making a free-to-play game there’s a pressure to develop a game that’ll incur spending, as opposed to a game that’s ‘fun’ in its own right.

It’s more that more people across development teams have to be cognizant of both aspects, the fun of the game and a game’s revenue, at the same time. In earlier models, most people only have to be aware of the former.

Fun still has to be paramount, but in free-to-play more people on a dev team need to pay attention and ensure that they’re not going to make everyone’s paychecks go to zero by being too generous. That’s a real risk.

If you look across the landscape of free-to-play core-gamer games over the last few years, you’ll see some very big ones that are doing extremely well, and you’ll see a huge number of small ones that ended up shutting down, and in some cases taking entire studios or companies with them. That’s a real danger, and that’s the thing that everyone but the biggest, billion dollar successes are striving to avoid.

With the different business models, are there any other differences between the paid and the free-to-play Rift servers?

Sure, think of what we’re planning on doing with Prime servers to be comparable to what Seasons are in other types of games.

On Prime, this first one is a progression server. People will be progressively unlocking seven years of content at a much more rapid pace, while getting to spend more time among the largest mass of community – the sweet spot of fun for MMOs.

What’s the response from the community been to this news?

Hugely positive. Even we were blown away by the reactions.

What’s your ambition for Rift in the coming year?

I’d love to see Prime take off, and us being able to serve both the audiences who prefer free-to-play as well as those who prefer a paid service. That would set us up not only to continue with Rift content and systems, but with new types of fun Prime services long into the future as well.
"The food is good, the wine is excellent, the staff timely. All that is lacking is your company." - EQ2 Raven Mythic FAQ

"Let me tell you something. Don't. Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there, you can make a difference." - Kirk to Picard, Star Trek Generations

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Diera » 03/07/18

Something about that seems very sleazy to me. Taking player feedback and implementing it by...charging the players? "What? We put something in the game you didn't like? Well, you're going to have to pay to get rid of it." That just doesn't sit well with me.

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Calris » 03/07/18

Eh, they've got to make their money somehow. I'd rather they just ditch the loot boxes and go to buying items outright rather than random rolls. But, pay to play is still more honest than loot boxes...

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Psia » 03/07/18

Diera wrote:
03/07/18
Something about that seems very sleazy to me. Taking player feedback and implementing it by...charging the players? "What? We put something in the game you didn't like? Well, you're going to have to pay to get rid of it." That just doesn't sit well with me.
When there were not yet any such thing as loot boxes in North American MMO's we paid $15/month. Which was defined by the industry as paying for server access. Looted any gear directly from Boss drops. Which is what I see happening again with their Prime server. I looked over what they call Patrons. And it's exactly what we paid pre-F2P.

I'm confused. Why is it sleazy now?
"The food is good, the wine is excellent, the staff timely. All that is lacking is your company." - EQ2 Raven Mythic FAQ

"Let me tell you something. Don't. Don't let them promote you. Don't let them transfer you, don't let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you're there, you can make a difference." - Kirk to Picard, Star Trek Generations

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Diera » 03/08/18

Psia wrote:
03/07/18
Diera wrote:
03/07/18
Something about that seems very sleazy to me. Taking player feedback and implementing it by...charging the players? "What? We put something in the game you didn't like? Well, you're going to have to pay to get rid of it." That just doesn't sit well with me.
When there were not yet any such thing as loot boxes in North American MMO's we paid $15/month. Which was defined by the industry as paying for server access. Looted any gear directly from Boss drops. Which is what I see happening again with their Prime server. I looked over what they call Patrons. And it's exactly what we paid pre-F2P.

I'm confused. Why is it sleazy now?
Eh, I dunno. It's just the concept of them asking for feedback and then charging people to implement the feedback just seems off to me. If that's the choice, I'd rather they just go back to a subscription model and be done with it, without the shenanigans. It just feels like going to a restaurant, sending the food back that was cooked improperly, and getting charged extra to get the food cooked right.

Besides, loot boxes are sleazy to begin with. I've got no problem with cash shops and the like, where you can buy what you want for a small price (I don't even care if people call it "pay to win"), but that's the thing with loot boxes. You don't necessarily get what you want. You buy the box, hoping maybe to get the one thing in the box you want, and if you end up with a piece of shit you didn't want, you're screwed and your money is gone. Time to buy another box and hope again. If I wanted that sort of experience, I'll go to Vegas. At least I'll have the chance of getting a free drink or two while I'm dumping cash in their machines. The fact that late last year, Rift had a loot box they were selling for $100, where you only had a 1 in 45 chance of getting what you wanted, is almost offensive. That's not right. The way to fix that was to get rid of loot boxes altogether and try a different method of getting money from your customers, NOT keeping the loot boxes and charging their customers a monthly fee to avoid that "forking out cash without a guarantee of getting what you wanted to buy" bullshit.

Why can't they just keep the store, put things in the store that people would want, where they'd actually get what they were paying for rather than a small chance they might get what they're paying for, and maybe a smaller monthly fee if they can't get people to fork out the fifteen bucks? Why are loot boxes the only way game companies seem to think they can make money anymore?

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Diera » 03/08/18

Calris wrote:
03/07/18
Eh, they've got to make their money somehow. I'd rather they just ditch the loot boxes and go to buying items outright rather than random rolls. But, pay to play is still more honest than loot boxes...
Exactly. Ditch the loot boxes and go with a system where you actually get what you pay for.

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Calris » 03/08/18

Now, loot boxes as purely in game rewards with no way to acquire them with real money are fine, IMO. Level up rewards, event rewards, that sort of thing. When cash enters the picture, not so fine. Sid Alpha and Jim Sterling both cover my objections quite well. As Sid puts it, these companies are basically turning games into skinner boxes ( https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a- ... ox-2795875 ) for profit. Give us money, you get the potential gambling-like dopamine rush of random rewards.

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Re: [RIFT] Rift Prime Server Sans Loot Crates

Post by Diera » 03/09/18

Calris wrote:
03/08/18
Now, loot boxes as purely in game rewards with no way to acquire them with real money are fine, IMO. Level up rewards, event rewards, that sort of thing. When cash enters the picture, not so fine. Sid Alpha and Jim Sterling both cover my objections quite well. As Sid puts it, these companies are basically turning games into skinner boxes ( https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a- ... ox-2795875 ) for profit. Give us money, you get the potential gambling-like dopamine rush of random rewards.
And if you object to that, give us more money.

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