Rift Erects Paywalls: Perhaps My Boycott Ended Too Early
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:
"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.
About 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.
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