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Star Wars: The Old Republic Editorial: Story of the Week: Rift Ain't Skeered

By William Murphy on October 08, 2011

As we originally reported, it seems that Trion Worlds' CEO Lars Buttler is feeling pretty good about his company these days.  Speaking on Rift's success and the future releases in the industry, he had this much to say:

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"So I expect many people will try it and even people who haven’t tried Rift will try Star Wars and then we’ll see where they end up in the long run. I’m actually extremely excited about what’s happening in our space. When we started five years ago, there was only WoW. Now there’s Rift as an absolute serious contender, with the most dynamic gameplay ever. Then there’s Star Wars, then there’s End of Nations coming. Then there’s Defiance coming, which was MMORPG’s MMO of E3, ahead of Star Wars. So we’re not afraid at all. We actually look forward to it with great excitement. It makes our point."

And really, he has a fair point.  Hear me out.  This is a company, begun out of nowhere that made a game which many assumed would be a total flash in the pan.  The thing is, Rift is still going strong.  It's still one of our most highly talked about, clicked, and researched titles on the site, and while it may not be as burgeoning as it was at launch there seems to be no doubt that Trion's flagship title is doing quite well long after many industry pundits assumed it would have nosedived. 

Indeed, I think we've all grown quite used to games taking a massive turn for the worse after an initially successful box-sales launch.  And when word spread that Rift was a lot like many games before it, I think the cynic in us all said "Well, it'll die soon or go F2P."  But that doesn't seem to be happening.  I still play Rift when time allows, and Wolfsbane is pretty much always hopping with people.  They don't have nearly as many servers as WoW, nor will any game likely, but from my vantage point it certainly seems like Rift has the second highest amount of players when you look at the servers and general population-pulled-from-my-arse numbers. 

I don't know the real metrics.  None of us do, really.  But I do know that Rift has sold over one million copies of their game since it's launch. And while some may say, "Oh they're just lowering the price because it's not selling well" I think the lowering of Rift's barrier to entry is part of a pretty nice scheme to get more players in the game and thus more players who will potentially re-sub for a month or two here or there when new updates hit... and updates in Rift hit at nearly record pace with ample amounts of content to boot. 

Who knows, maybe End of Nations will do so well as a F2P, that Defiance will be one as well, and Rift will go that way too.  Maybe SWTOR will come out and decimate the subscription landscape for months on end, and all future games will be too scared of it and WoW to try the sub-model.  I don't have a crystal ball, I don't know.  But what I do know is that Lars is right when he says that Rift is the closest thing to a competitor WoW has had in ages.  And it won't be the last.  There are some big games coming up next year that pose a threat to Rift's playerbase, no doubt about it.  But can you blame the man for being optimistic?

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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