Some pretty big announcements have come out over the last 24 hours.
1) Rift Lite
Rift has launched an endless free trial, just like Warhammer Online and WoW have. This has already been discussed over at TAGN, Tobold and other places though I would add that Rift lite is somewhat more generous than the two other games offerings:
Warhammer Online – level limit 10 out of 40
World of Warcraft – level limit 20 out of 85
Rift Lite – level limit 20 out of 50
So in terms of tasting classes and content for free it’s a larger share of the game that is available free in terms of levels to cap. With Rift I see this model as being only partially of use – it’s certainly better than a time-limited trial. But will such an endless trial encourage new players to ‘sub-up’ or will it actually serve to weaken the subscription base? I for one have a sub on a rolling 6-month payment plan. If I can play some Rift occasionally for free then I can drop my sub, since I only rarely play why bother paying at all?
2) SWTOR subscribers and sales in EA earnings call
So some official figures have been released by EA as part of a standard earnings call. Massively report these as 2 million+ units sold and 1.7 subscriptions at the time of the call. The veracity and deeper meaning of these figures will no doubt be debated hotly on forums over the coming days. As a player of SWTOR I’m happy it’s doing well, I want Bioware to continue to develop and improve the game after all.
My only concern is how much focus Bioware will give to endgame (raiding/PVP) in the mid to long term. They’ve made a big fuss over the fourth pillar of story. So I want them to deliver on this, not just by churning out repeatable instances for tiered gear grinding. I want to see actual new story arcs being introduced to move the game universe’s story on – so at 50+ you can ‘grind’ your legacy but have episodic new content as the basis for this not just dailies and instances. Of course they’ll have to deliver raids and small group content but don’t forget the fourth pillar!
This is the mistake I feel Trion made with Rift, they copied the WoW model too completely. They would have been better concentrating on something a bit different for the cap – expanding the rift and invasion system to keep players happy and playing out in the open and not hiding them away in raids or battlegrounds.