Wilhelm over at TAGN wrote today about how RIFT is definitely in the post-boom period from its switch to free-to-play. I was surprised to hear that Trion is cutting the number of servers by half, but it made me realize that although I once considered RIFT to be my one true MMO love I haven’t logged on in.. months? Huh. How did that happen?
(By the way, mad props to the PR team over at Trion for writing a real doozy of a post about the shard mergers. It’s not low populations and server closures, it’s advanced technology bringing players closer together! You asked for it, and now you get it! I have serious professional respect for that level of spin.)
So why am I not playing RIFT right now? I did for years leading up to the F2P announcement, and to be fair I played quite a bit afterwards, too. Then I just.. kind of wandered off.
Certainly as someone who dislikes F2P models on principle I found myself clashing with the new system while enjoying the game. I was really extremely super bummed when it turned out that the new outfits associated with Summerfest were all only available through the cash shop, and on top of that were quite expensive compared to everything else. (If a bikini costs more than a space pony mount, the pricing is wrong.)
Then in September patch 2.4 came out and promised new hairstyles. I logged on that night, excited to play Pretty Princess, only to discover that there were a couple of new hairstyles but most were only available though, yes, the cash shop. You could only buy the hairstyles as one big purchase, and they were also quite expensive. I know that a F2P game must make money from the cash shop to survive, but continually having to shell out for fun new casual fluff that I once could play the game to get became too much of a bummer for me.
I admit that I’m also not immune to that standard MMO player fear of failure. When your genre of choice relies on a critical mass of players to be playable, much less exist at all, it’s hard to resist jumping ship at the slightest sign of instability. RIFT (and Trion Worlds in general) has definitely been giving off signs of trouble for a while now, what with the closure of the San Diego office, their non-presence at PAX Prime this year, and the fact that one of the long time and much loved Community Managers, Elrar, was let go.
I still really like Trion, I’m just not sure I’d heavily invest time or money in their MMOs right now.
Of course neither the cash shop nor the feeling of producer instability truly affect gameplay. I could still be running around doing events and warfronts with almost no change from two years ago. But I’m not, and … I don’t really know why. I just got bored, I guess, which I suppose is as legitimate a reason to stop playing as anything other.