The MMO market is in a transitional phase. Due to declining subscriptions, developers have transitioned to the free-to-play model and have (in general) seen better numbers. Even WoW, king of the MMOs, reported heavy losses in the last few months. Apparently, in the last three months, 1.3 million subscribers have said goodbye, maybe for the second or third time, to the game.
"The RIFT team prides itself on listening to our players and taking feedback seriously, and many great features have been added to RIFT due to this relationship. Some of those changes have been dramatic, others more subtle,' said stated RIFT creative director Bill Fisher in a blog post. "Today I am here to announce another dramatic change to RIFT – a change brought on by player feedback from surveys, community postings, in-game reports, and passionately written emails over the last two years. Starting June 12, with the release of RIFT 2.3: Empyreal Assault, RIFT is opening its business model to include Free to Play."
Even with the transition, subscriptions will still be available as an option. Current paying players will retain everything in their account and will receive a one-time award of Credits & Loyalty (though the exact amount will be discussed in the future.)
Fisher was careful to stress that RIFT's free-to-play model would not be one of pay-to-win. The in-game store will sell mounts, wardrobe items, and boosts, nothing that could drastically change the balance of the game.
Trion unveiled the experimental currency REX (Rift Exchange), which can be purchased with real money and used as credits for the game. However, REX can be traded between players, meaning that non-paying players can still get their hands on the currency via the auction house.
Loyalty has also been introduced as a new feature. Essentially, Trion Worlds hopes to retain players by handing out free gifts, which can be earned for doing activities such as buying and selling Credits and taking part in community events. Veteran players will receive extra Loyalty for well… being a loyal subscribed player to the game.