Friday, June 17, 2016

Rift's Recipe of Longevity and Success - Part 1





These days, we're living in the age of MOBAs beyond the shadow of a doubt, as all the most recent major releases - including Blizzard's Overwatch - are looking to include well tested and proven MOBA elements even as they represent completely different genres. Still, even as the iconic World of Warcraft is probing ever bigger depths popularity-wise, possibly edging closer and closer to FTP-dom, there is still room for classic MMO success, and Rift, which has not long ago celebrated its 5th birthday, is living proof to that. Indeed, in MMO terms, 5 years are quite close to eternity and a title which can still boast an active and healthy player-base after that many years, can rightfully be proud of its accomplishments.

Launched to an overwhelmingly positive reception back in 2011,  Rift was Trion Games' first title and foray into the MMO industry. Even when it came out, the title won over many with its customization-focused Soul system and its dynamic events - both innovations in an already rather stale MMO environment which embraced it as a breath of fresh air. Over the years, the game has changed quite a bit indeed: new content was added and its various elements/mechanics were tweaked. Perhaps most importantly, in 2013 it dumped its prescription model, treading onto a path which Blizzard have long been trying to steer clear of with their WoW. Rift now features a hybrid free/pay monetization model which - considering that the game is ranked 13th among the highest-earning pay-to-play MMOs - is quite successful indeed.

The most important ingredient of Rift's success-concoction was the loyalty of their players though, most of whom have remained loyal to it though the years and the sea of changes. The Rift team was always responsive to player feedback, therefore most of the above-said changes - instead of antagonizing their players - reinforced their loyalty. There were some mishaps along the way too though, but there was always enough political will on the part of the Rift team to address these problems and to correct them in a timely manner.

Just how successful can the game still considered to be though? Surely, there are some cold-hard metrics by which this can be more or less accurately gauged...

Apparently - according to Trion World CEO Scott Hartsman, at any given moment, around a third of the people present online in the Rift universe are players who have been riding along since the beginnings. On top of that, there's a sizable crowd of "rotating" players, who return to the game periodically to check out new content and stay to play for a while before leaving again. This metric alone gives a rather impressive sense of why Rift has been so successful. There's more to the recipe though...and we'll take another look at it in an upcoming piece.

Philip Thalberg is tasked with covering the TI 2016 for GosuTeam, the most dedicated eSports community on the planet.

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