RIFT is the next MMO to join the free-to-play ranks, though its new terms seem a bit more generous than most other titles.
I feel like an old man describing the modern MMO landscape. When I was a kid we paid $15 a month to play Ultima Online over a 56k modem. Sometimes we'd have to walk miles in the snow for absolutely no reason. Also, there were wolves and many of us died of dysentery.
Point being: You kids have it easy, what with your Furbys and arguably new Guns N' Roses albums. These days almost any MMO you'd want to play - with a notable World of Warcraft-shaped exception - can be enjoyed free of charge thanks to the industry's shift toward the surprisingly lucrative free-to-play business model.
Speaking of, the latest title to ditch a proper subscription model is Trion Worlds' RIFT. According to a newly-launched section of the game's official site, the title will go free-to-play on June 12. That's not the interesting bit though: The best part are the terms of the new business model, which seem aimed more at attracting players than maximizing profit.
I feel like I should be yelling at teenagers to get off of my non-existent lawn.
What's so special about RIFT's free to play model? Simply put, it doesn't restrict content from players who'd rather not drop money into Trion Worlds' coffers. To wit, the following, reassuring words from the development team:
After June 12, all players will have total access to the entire world: every dungeon, every raid, every Warfront, and every level. We won't be locking our content or advancement behind walls - our goal is to break down every barrier. We want more people playing together and more people having fun together. A new free player has restrictions on their starting inventory, character slots, and you won't have access to the Storm Legion souls, but you really are getting the whole game for free.
Neat, right? Of course, if you desperately want to give Trion Worlds your money the firm won't refuse, and will actually give you a few in-game benefits (though it's crucial to note that none of them appear to be of the "pay to win" variety). Again, to wit:
As a subscriber (now officially a "Patron") you'll also get bounties of treasure and awesome bonuses to give you the extra edge and convenience you need for all your adventures in Telara!
Patrons receive access to a suite of abilities usable once per day that grant buffs to experience, currency, notoriety, and a number of additional convenience benefits. We are not jacking up the experience curve to make these benefits required - all of these bonuses are completely optional and playing without them you will experience RIFT exactly as it is today. We want to make sure that becoming a Patron is a great value, but it's not required. If you're a free player and want the same benefits for a specific duration, you can purchase Patron Passes of varying lengths from the in-game RIFT Store.
A full explanation of all of the changes headed to RIFT can be found on the game's official free-to-play page.