MMORPG: This is some major bombshell you’re dropping on us, but I’d be lying if I said a lot of our community wasn’t expecting it one day… so why make Rift Free-to-Play now? Traditionally, you all have been very against that from the community facing standpoint.
Bill Fisher: You are absolutely right it’s a bombshell and I think you are right as well that the community was expecting this - and based on the feedback we have received over the last couple years, they have been asking for it! This is really one of the top requested features - it's been consistent through a number of our feedback channels.
So why now? To be super blunt, if we could have made the transition to this model earlier last year we would have. This has been in the works for quite some time and we wanted to finish Storm Legion before we could really dig into the conversion.
MMORPG: Will there still be a subscription option, like some other games have done when transitioning? Why or why not?
Bill Fisher: Absolutely! We are changing the name of our subscription to Patron status. Patron's receive access to a number of daily benefits including boosts to exp, currency, and additional conveniences such as summoning guild bankers and trainers.
The important thing to note about Patron status is that it is completely optional - we want to make it a good value, but not make it required.
MMORPG: Many of the gaming populace see the shift from subscription to F2P as a sort of swan song or last ditch effort for a game to stay alive. How do you combat this stigma?
Bill Fisher: I think that as time has passed people really are more accepting. Will there be a stigma for a subset of folks out there? Sure. It really isn't our job to combat the stigma though - it's our job to make RIFT the best possible game we can. We feel that the game can speak for itself and letting more people experience it really is the next logical step on the road of continual improvement.
MMORPG: How will this change the world of Telara for existing subscribers?
Bill Fisher: All of our existing subscribers will be transferred over to Patron status. They will actually gain more benefits than they had prior to the transition in the form of patron abilities and convenience features!
Anyone who has ever subscribed to RIFT in the past will have access to the full suite of features that they have had. We are not taking any bag slots or bank slots from folks that were or are subscribers - in other words their Veteran accounts won't be subject to the limitations of a brand new free account.
MMORPG: What sorts of limitations will be placed on Free Players, if any? Please tell me all classes and races will be available, and the full level cap as well.
Bill Fisher: Every dungeon, every raid, all the content that RIFT has to offer is free and not locked behind a paywall. You can level up to sixty with no restrictions on your advancement - and no we are not jacking up the exp curve for free players or penalizing them. All of the classic souls are available for free however we will be charging for access to the Storm Legion souls.
The primary restrictions to new users are limited bag slots, wardrobe slots, and role slots - things that are convenience.
MMORPG: What sorts of additions to the store will we see? You know everyone’s afraid of “P2W”, though it means something different for everyone. Assuage their fears.
Bill Fisher: That phrase certainly means something different to everyone. No matter what I say, someone is probably going to claim the game is P2W in their specific world view - sorry sometimes I'm just a realist J
While making this transition we came up with our definitions of what was OK and what wasn't OK. A few of our high level guiding statements are as follows:
We are really not going out there trying to sell our End Game. We offer shortcuts to it in some cases and we offer convenience.
The boosts that we sell are also not power boosts. We offer ways to increase your exp gain, your token gain, things like this.
You’ll also see a new type of item for sale: REX (RIFT Exchange). REX can be purchased for real money and converted to RIFT Store Credits. What makes them special is that they are tradable and can be placed on the auction house. This allows even free players access to Credits, at a price determined by the players.
MMORPG: How will this effect content additions going forward? The pace of them especially. Are there plans for DLC packs and digital expansions as well?
Bill Fisher: Full steam ahead as usual for the RIFT team! The way we make content and do hot fixes isn't changing due to this. Expect major patches and content updates like always.
We don't plan on doing purchased DLC packs that unlock areas - that defeats the purpose of exposing more people to the world of Telara. We want more people playing together, we don't want to segregate.
MMORPG: What’s the one thing you want your existing fans to take from this announcement? And what’s the one thing you want people who may have given up on the game to take away?
Bill Fisher: For the fans: The game you love is here to stay, this is just another step on the journey of making RIFT the best game possible.
For everyone else: You have nothing to lose by trying RIFT after this conversion - bring some friends, give it a shot.