First off, congratulations to all the beta holders for Rift. I hope you guys have a lot of fun and help make Rift a better game. Remember that even if the mob in beta forums does not respond to your beautiful, constructive feedback, it will have much more impact on the development team than some “lol fire is so OP, this game sucks”-flamebait. Sadly, I will not be joining many of you golden ticket holders.
I was definitely interested in their events-style system where rifts open in the core world. The invading army pushes through and generates this dynamic content for the heroes of the land. Depending on player response (or opposing rift NPC rift faction, as they case may be) the invasion is either repelled or fortifies. Sounds pretty neat, right?
And that’s the problem. They want a subscription for content. Their service is content, and I am neck deep in content requiring much less monthly upkeep. On paper, the content sure as heck looks fun; I don’t disagree with that. For many of you, paying a monthly fee for this content, the community you create, and the support the developer provides is enough to justify the cost and restrictions. I’d rather not even get started in the subscription-free beta zone to have the accounting light switch turned on at the end.
A subscription in this market feels extra restrictive. We have pay-once MMOs, like Guild Wars, we have freemium or “no cover charge” games like Lord of the Rings Online, and we have plenty of free-to-play games where content is very free, Vindictus is my favorite of those at the moment. I have plenty of enjoyable content without a subscription fee barring my way whenever I get the itch to pick up the MMO and play.
However, I don’t believe subscriptions create an MMO that’s dead on arrival. I just feel that for a successful MMO, the subscription has to provide for something more than just content. Ironically, the three MMOs that I feel most worthy of a subscription also have much less content than a standard MMO. EVE Online, A Tale in the Desert, and Darkfall all are the three I feel most deserving. They don’t just provide content to be subscribed to and updated whenever they feel like it; it feels like they provide a service.
All I have are empty speculations on where Rift falls, but it seems to me that players will be subscribing mainly to mere content. Sure, I think dynamic content, such as the Rift system, is much deeper than the vanilla MMO quest content, but I imagine it will get old. Just as I imagine that in Guild Wars 2, all the dynamic events I have played over and over will simply stop being fun or interesting. Except in Guild Wars 2, I won’t have to start making the ultra-subjective determination of whether I am having $15 worth of fun somewhere in the MMO.
Part of me is just mind-boggled. Three of the four upcoming, giant MMOs are all launching subscription based (SWTOR, Rift, and TERA), and Guild Wars 2 seems to be the only so-called “AAA MMO” to want to launch without a subscription. I can only surmise that it must be pretty profitable to launch a subscription MMO, milk the WoW tourists, then re-launch a year later as a new, fresh free-to-play. Or, are investors still shooting for WoW-heights? Going to be very interesting to see how the MMO market is viewed in 2012.
make no stay