It's been a few weeks since I last penned The Soulwalker, and
while there has been quite
a bit going on, none of it was particularly inspiring. So
what got me off my duff and revived my weekly soapbox? Not so much
anything directly Rift affiliated
actually, but rather I drew inspiration from the return of our beloved
Boomjack and a new and improved version of our awesome daily feature – Reloading.
Welcome back sir, my email inbox is certainly the better for it.
As I look forward to patch 1.3, I still marvel at the blistering pace
at which content is churned out and at the continued innovations by the
folks at Trion. At a time when the biggest kid on the block is going to
charge you extra to run some dungeons with your friends, Rift is going to
give you the ability
to move servers. Weekly. For free. Even with all the upsides
there still seems to be a lot of negative energy and speculation of
failure by folks in the community and those playing other games. It's
natural for any new game to have attrition and contraction shortly
after launch these days, but is it really a failing on Trion's part? Or
are we just witnessing the beginning of the end of the MMOG boom?
I can't help but think of a few notable moments from recent history
that have affected myself, and some of my closest friends, when I
wonder about the future of the MMOG. In the later part of the 90's I
was working in a high stress industry that required long hours and a
good part of my soul, but it paid really well. As friends of mine
started to migrate away to new internet start up firms in droves, I was
tempted to follow them for the promises of a better work environment
and fat stacks of quick cash. Luckily, I had a fiancee whose overly
cautious nature helped talk me out of that and a couple years later our
new house's guest bedroom was put to regular use as temporary housing
for friends who lost it all in the gamble.
The second event that comes to mind involves that same house and the
same overly cautious fiancee, who was by that time a matronly
over-cautious wife. As housing values rocketed up and our friends began
trading up from simple houses to amazingly lavish
mini-mansions we were once again tempted by the lure of easy money.
Everyone knows the outcome of that frenzy, more friends staying with
us, this time on the couch as the guest room was now a nursery.
With every developer pouring gobs of money into the MMOG market, is it
really any different than these two crazes which swept through our
country and ultimately imploded in upon themselves? And are the early
adopters who don't rush headlong into over extending themselves safe
from the repercussions? And finally, can a game like Rift and a company
like Trion, help to save the industry from total collapse? The
not-so-definitive answer is – maybe.
Blizzard with its undisputed King of all MMOGs isn't even immune right
now, as WoW subscriptions
were down by 600k (take into account the huge uptick in subs
they picked up in China this year and that number is probably closer to
1.4 million recurring subscriptions lost). The damage done to
SOE by its security fiasco may not be fully realized for
several more months as they wait to see who comes back, and more
importantly, who sticks around. Funcom announced AoC would be going
free-to-play, joining a long list of other games that are removing the
monthly fee in a last ditch effort to attract players. While a great
number of threads on various discussion boards are exalting WoW
as triumphing over Rift
as the latter's population begins to sag, the vast number of folks I
have spoke to who have left Telara certainly haven't gone back to
Azeroth – just as most of my friends who have stopped playing WoW have
yet to try Rift.
Players are simply becoming bored with an overexposed market that has
left them feeling bloated and tired as they chase the perpetual Next
Thing in their hardly distinguishable fantasy realm of choice.
While SW:TOR and GW2 may each be bringing something new to the table,
the former is simply a fantasy game re-skinned as a sci-fi space
universe and the latter is JANFG (just another fantasy game – hey we
loves us some acronyms). Until a truly innovative and genre defining
non-fantasy game emerges,Riftmay be
the best alternative to giving up the MMOG all together. The two things
has going for it that may help it stave off elimination are; rapid
deployment of dynamic content – a system that helps keep the world
fresh and minimizes player boredom as they wait for their next
challenge and, most importantly, fostering of community. As all
client-based fantasy worlds begin their inevitable contractions, those
that keep players working together and interacting with each other the
most will be the ones with the best chance of survival. No one on the
market today fosters community much better than Rift. So while the
WoW denizens continue to mock each other, flex their electronic egos
and enslave each other to get cheap gold, those of us in Rift will be busy
banding together in our co-operative efforts. Come on Ascended, we've
got a world to save.
Worlds today announced that it will offer unlimited free server
transfers to select servers once a week with update 1.3 scheduled to go
live in early summer. Players that transfer will be able to take all of
their gear, achievements and titles with them when they go..
Part of the Elementalist's prowess and power is derived from their
summoned combat pets that serve a variety of roles. If any of the
various souls in Rift
is custom made for the old school EverQuest
mage; this is it.