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.
Trion World's RIFT, a fantasy-themed MMO, is making the transition to free-to-play. The developer declared that the transition was due to player feedback and the changing market.
"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.
But the temptation to make P2Win items almost necessary can easily get out of hands from both sides. In some games, having the best purchasable items often enables players to solo multiplayer content so they do not need to share rewards, which kind of defeats the point of playing an MMO and makes it nearly impossible to control inflation. On the plus side, done properly it can effectively price gold sellers out of the market.
P2Win can work but finding the right balance between company/operator greed, player greed, benefits and in-game cash flow is difficult and requires on-going fine-tuning.
I think wow has been doing well because its that game everyone's friends play
then theres the fact that a lot of people see free to play games as being bad without even trying them because all free to play games are pay to win right? (please note that was sarcasm)
and then other subscription based MMOs fall flat because everyone has wow and no one wants to pay for two subscriptions at once
screw the fact that wow has a really outdated engine, graphics from 2009 (unless you go to outland where you have graphics from 2006 due to no update) and a now outdated combat system based on percentages and luck
Blizzard has had their fair share of issues over the years. Since Activision entered, it seems to have gotten a bit worse. PTR testing seems rushed and known bugs make it to live almost every time. I have played some Perfect World, but not enough to really know how well their servers truly run. It was something to do when I was burnt out on WoW and cancelled for awhile.
As far as F2P games go hopefully they don't ruin the game like Starwars the Old Republic has. Where they are more focused on adding things to the pay market then they are fixing bugs and adding content to the game.
A vast majority of paying subs do not want this, and many are pissed that they paid year(s) in advance and won't be getting reimbursed.