Trion Worlds announced today that its massively multiplayer PC RPG Rift will be free-to-play starting June 12, 2013. The entire game, including every level, zone, and dungeon, plus all existing and future updates, will be free to all players, Trion revealed in a press release. The studio said the switch from a subscription model to free-to-play is a result of players’ feedback.
“We have been listening to feedback from our players and watching the continuously developing MMO community, and are now ready to launch Rift as a premium free-to-play experience,” the game’s creative director, Bill Fisher, said in the announcement. “After taking our time and planning a careful transition; we are very excited to bring an enhanced game experience to everyone, without barriers.”
An “expanded” in-game store will provide fodder for microtransactions including “mounts, boosts, wardrobe items, and more,” and an optional subscription model will still be available that will grant players “Patron” bonuses and benefits. Existing and previous subscribers will also be rewarded with special bonuses, Trion confirmed.
Fisher added that gameplay balance is still important to Trion and that while purchasable bonuses will “heighten” gameplay, the best gear in Rift will still have to be earned the old-fashioned way. You know… by actually playing the game.
An increasing number of MMO developers are choosing to make their games free-to-play as the microtransaction strategy continues to prove effective. Electronic Arts and BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic went free-to-play in 2012, and World of Warcraft – which was recently revealed to be shedding subscribers like skin cells – unlocked free-to-play up to level 20 a year earlier.