News Flash To F2P Developers: Monetization Is The Hottest Of Hot-Button Topics 3

To catch you up a bit, I had a long-running personal boycott of Trion Worlds products for most of 2015. It sucked on a personal level as I really enjoy playing Rift, Trion’s flagship free-to-play MMORPG, and my boycott had nothing to do with that game in particular. Rather, I chose to stop supporting Trion Worlds products (since I did spend money quite often in Rift) because I was unhappy with the way players were treated in other Trion products, most notably ArcheAge.

My boycott finally came to an end just recently on an episode of BombLive as I chose to stream Rift. It felt good jumping back into the game and I felt OK ending my boycott after hearing a lot of feedback from MMOBombers that while certain cash shop items in other games may be “pay-to-win” in the minds of many, the way players were being treated had improved. Had you asked me last week about my favorite free-to-play models, Rift would have topped my list.

So I hear you saying, “Magicman, if you like Rift’s model and the boycott ended…what’s the deal now?”

Well my friends, in my mind, Rift just went over to the “pay-to-win” dark side…but at least they are honest about why (/sarcasm).

Today a new policy takes effect in Rift. Two items that were previously attainable from a Nightmare Tide special edition purchase, a cash shop purchase, or an in-game grind of Voidstones have had their acquisition rate altered. How? The Voidstones option is no longer available.

This now means that earring slots and Planewalker: Water (an item that attunes players to be able to wear high-end gear with the “Planewalker: Water” label on them) can only be obtained through a purchase you make yourself or through grinding up in-game money and buying REX (which someone else bought with real money) and using that REX to make your cash shop purchase. The end result is that someone has to spend cash for you to be able to equip earrings (earrings DO have stats) or to unlock the ability to wear the high-end Planewalker: Water gear. Yes, you don’t have to have access to both, but you’re at a clear disadvantage if you don’t have them — particularly in raiding. Ask any Rift player that bought a Nightmare Tide Collector’s set and has these unlocks if they would have enjoyed the expansion without them. Scratch that. You don’t need to ask, just check out the (currently) 21 pages of discussion on this announcement instead.


To add a bit of insult, players who may have been farming Voidstones to unlock these items were given two whole days of warning prior to the change. Yep, if you were three days of dailies away, you were just hosed.

After the expected backlash, Ocho took to the forums again to clarify the reasoning for the decision. The one thing I’ll say to Trion’s credit with this reply is that at least it was honest. Basically it was, “We need money.”

Having a large team producing amazing things is a benefit to everyone who loves RIFT, both those making it and those who play it. But making games like RIFT is expensive. and so we need to sell things in game to pay those folks. We try to offer a variety of services that appeal to a broad selection of folks. Sometimes we try one thing, sometimes we try another. But it’s always a learning experience.

Allow me to list the reasons I feel this is a bad decision in a short list for you:

  • It’s a paywall, pure and simple. As much as the development team wants to say you can farm money faster than Voidstones anyway, so you can still farm for plat (in-game money) to by REX… it’s not that simple. Someone had to pay for the REX with cash and while you may be able to get REX easily in the NA version of the game (expect prices to go up again now though), ask a friend in the EU how “available” REX is for a free-to-play player.
  • Voidstones were a set rate, REX fluctuates in both cost and availability. There’s also a plat cap for free players that haven’t made a purchase making the purchase of REX difficult if not impossible in most cases..unless you make at least one purchase, of course.
  • It’s an unnecessary wall on items that came in an expansion that is over a year old and is winding down. If you wanted to try this as a new model going forward, it should have come in the next expansion. Players still would have hated it, but you wouldn’t be locking new players out of things that they’ve actually had access to farming in-game for a year now. In fact, just make expansions a required purchase instead, souls and all. Even that’s a better option than making parts of the expansion required purchases in my book.
  • Two days’ notice? Really? A few weeks would have been more appropriate.
  • This change directly impacts NEW players. Those that have been playing and are high-level raiders likely already have these items. Those players want new blood in the game though. This change hurts that new blood.
  • “Plane” and simple, this is a terrible decision and should be reversed immediately. Trion, use your next expansion to change income opportunities if cash and capital is becoming an issue.

    What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Rift’s free-to-play promise:

    RIFT is Free-to-Play! No Trials. No Tricks. No Traps.

    the author

    Mike "Magicman" Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site's current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.

    20 Readers Commented

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    1. Golgo28 on February 29, 2016

      It’s like Trion is trying to fail.There are easier ways to get out of the gaming industry then basicly shit on your players.

    2. killitwithfire on January 30, 2016

      Why not just shut down Rift/sell Rift? and use the resources and money to negotiate with XLgames and fix the business model for AA in the west.

    3. trionishsit on January 28, 2016

      Trion become poop company, i not support anything trion, faking greedy jews with very bad asian copy/paste mmos like tonns around for free.

      • xethir on February 9, 2016

        they are becoming nexon

    4. LutheBear on January 28, 2016

      i can’t agree to Many of your comments. In my opinion the system of Rift is still one of th best. They offer you high end Items and also you can buy level 60 ups, yes but the whole game until 65 you dont need to spend any Penny. i play rift since beginning. I am a fan, no fanboy. Trion is honest ro their players they learned from old storys. You can’t imagine the way Triom works. Eas said you will never get a 100% free to play game anymore. you will have lots of adds or in game cashshops. BUY TO PLAY or subscribtion games are Dead. Dor me buy a game and play monthly for all rewards is the best model. Folks become stingy nowadays.

      • Xevian on January 29, 2016

        ok let me guess lad… you are one of THOSE people who play casually?Ever put your hands on hardcore raiding or pvp?

        I did not mind that much coz I did not spend much on game but my friend… he spent at-least 50+ $$ on the game and yet the was devoid of the raiding experience solely based on the fact you need all those gated “Souls” to be the part of raiding guilds.

        And have you seen REX rates? Pretty much you are delusional lad.Had you been playing it all you would known the issue.

        • bl00rg on January 30, 2016

          yup, if you want to be competitive in either PVP or PVE you simply wont be even close without paying, I bought the planewalker cheapest (20$) package just so I can raid and pvp on “even” ground (earrings and gear which makes huge diffrence, earrings by itself is like 10-15%% of your stats), but even with that purchase it’s impossible to keep up with the people buying monthly sub, as they earn more currency, have higher caps etc. You might think it’s not really pay2win since you can get same stuff for free with time, well technically yes, BUT it takes so long by the time lets say you get tier one set for your class, the game is already in t2, once you are like halfway in t2 gear its already t3 out, etc etc. Basically paying players have huge advantage all the time, both pve/pvp they will simply have more stats than someone playing for free. I used to recommend this game as best f2p mmo out, but since last expansion it went completely pay2win, buying rex isnt really viable anymore to keep up, due to rex prices inflating so much it’s close to impossible to farm plat for it to sustain montly sub like that (price tripled on EU during few months i was playing, I assume now it’s way more especially considering this move by trion)
          Tl;dr Newest Endgame Raids are not possible without spending money, being competitive in pvp either. As f2p you will only be able to do older content tier’s (most likely 2 tier’s behind the current newest), and pvp is not even worth trying without mid-end gear. F2p is only viable if you play super casually, since its basically trial, but then you migh as well go play GW2 which does it better for casual play.

    5. Hara on January 28, 2016

      I was a long time Arch age player. Long story short, they spitted on their founders in multiple ways and the game became a pay 2 win monster. I will never touch a trion product ever again.

      • strongy on January 29, 2016

        archeage isnt technically a trion product they didnt develop it, theyre just the publisher XL Games is the developer

    6. Xevian on January 28, 2016

      Well yet again a good article and the truth behind trion practices…

      I have been commenting this since a year ago that trion is nothing but a p2w gamer company.My friend who spend like 40-50$ in game still left the game calling it pay to win.

      What can you expect from a game which gates the classes(souls)???
      They say other way is to farm plat and get rex. Well.. reality check?? With such meager population the servers are already dying and there is less REX in shops and those who sell it have ridiculous amount of plat cost.

      You cannot pvp against those whales which have way superior stats than you.You wanna pve?? ok ok… but those guilds the top tier ones which usually or ONLY do high tier raids have a pre-requisite : you must have all soul packs!

      3 Soul packs they released from the start I think do the maths and count them and how much $$ they add… 😀

    7. Razer on January 27, 2016

      They won’t win much sympathy with that explanation when they’re throwing their fans under the bus. It’s not the consumer’s job shoulder the burden of a company that can’t balance the books responsibly. If consumers are no longer getting reasonable value for their money and time, they’ll simply move on to greener pastures.

      • Hans on January 28, 2016

        If it would be about getting value for money it would all be okay. I see a real problem that nowadays people think everything is terrible where you spend money in games.
        hundreds of hours, I think it is absolutely okey if there comes a small paywall at some point.

        Those to items won’t make you poor and it should be worth it at some point.

        • Razer on January 28, 2016

          I can get down with these “paywalls” if it’s more like a legitimate expansion. If it makes the game pay2win, then the company behind it can go pound sand.
          It’s about more than just paywalls though. Gating stuff behind huge amounts of grinding can also greatly diminish the value the player is getting for their time due to boredom, and payment options to speed it up don’t actually add any real value either. I don’t both with pay-to-advance games because I have standards and I know my time and money is better spent elsewhere.

    8. NobleNerd on January 27, 2016


      They should re-think this tag line.

      I personally have not removed my boycott on Trion since the ArcheAge fail and apparently with good reason. I believed they even screwed Devillian already too.

    9. trion sucks on January 27, 2016

      Trion is really lame. They ruin all good games. They don’t fix the bugs, stop hackers or treat their players right. They only add new cash shop items till the game is dead.

    10. Terranova667 on January 27, 2016

      They haven’t just shot themselves in the foot they have taken it clean off along with the entire leg, What are they thinking If they need cash come up with some ideas to get players to spend willingly or maybe dare i say it go Buy to play but not this this doesn’t help anyone not even Trion surly they didn’t think this would come overas i good idea they are not that stupid are they, well then again Archeage sooo yeah they clearly are.

    11. Chris on January 27, 2016

      “Had you asked me last week about my favorite free-to-play models, Rift would have topped my list.”

      Rift already had certain content gated behind expansions that you had to buy. Also when it comes to best F2P model Path of Exile takes the first place.

      • Magicman Author on January 27, 2016

        Hard to argue with Path of Exile, man. You are DEAD on. Perhaps I should have said “Rift would be near the top of my list.” 🙂

        • bl00rg on January 30, 2016

          Rift stopped being good f2p couple months back after new expansion in my opinion, the REX prices inflated so much it wasn’t viable option anymore to farm plat to catch up (at least on EU, NA was always about 1/3 cheaper), otherwise I agree with the article. The move propably means Devillian wasn’t really big financial success, Rift was always Trion’s cash cow they used to finance other titles, and looks like it’s bringing less money now as well, with better new titles out, and the water expansion was generally pretty badly received.

    12. Todoran on January 27, 2016

      RIFT WAS! FREE-TO-PLAY! NO TRIALS. NO TRICKS. NO TRAPS. PLAY: B&S, WoW, TERA, or wait for BS! Rest of MMOS are crap! TRION mmos…. are the worst.