Can we call RIFT a success yet?

No?  Okay… guess I’ll go back to sitting on my thumbs over here.  But know this: It is really, really hard to do so.

Sure, we as a MMO community are beyond wary of pronouncing anything for sure, especially after we’ve witnessed the billionth commenter declaring that something is a “fail” or “success” or “microwave burrito.”  We haven’t seen any official reviews of RIFT, the game doesn’t even officially launch until tomorrow, and we won’t know the post-one month subscriber numbers for a while.

So why does it feel like a success anyway?  Because it does, it really does.  Every time I play the game, I’m feeling and seeing something I haven’t for years — a fully operational battlestation, er, MMO that is compelling, addictive, popular, polished and content-rich.  People are literally waiting for hours just to log in depending on their server, and while they may complain, they do it anyway because RIFT is kind of worth it.

A few days ago, Trion announced that they hit over a million registered accounts (note: not necessarily players), and ever since the head start, the studio has released dozens of new servers just to handle the crush of players.  And — let us not forget — it hasn’t even launched yet.

Okay, sure, this may be the whole week one excitement, the honeymoon period that every MMO gets.  People flock to it, check it out, some stay, some leave.  But usually by this point I can get a sense for what’s wrong with it and whether or not it’ll make or break — and all signs are pointing to “make” in a big way.

I’m not writing this just to be “First!” or anything, but because I’m really wondering if we’re witnessing the start of something larger than we — even long-time RIFT fans — anticipated.  I’ve heard whispers and mentions of a million-plus subscriber base, something that hasn’t even been broached by a major subscription MMO for years.  We’ve all seen how quickly the fanfare over World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has died off, and I’ve read plenty of first-hand reports of players flocking in droves for new territory.  Again, WoW tourists?  Perhaps.  But perhaps RIFT has enough WoW in it that they’ll stay and not look back.

I guess this is all speculation and gut feeling, but I wanted to say it anyway.  We knew RIFT was going to be big, but I don’t think we knew how big.  This puppy’s got legs, and I’m excited to see where it’ll go.

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51 thoughts on “Can we call RIFT a success yet?

  1. Remember back in the GameCube days when every gamer with internet access considered Nintendo a failure while Microsoft and Sony battled for number one? Except that Sony and Microsoft hemorrhaged money to be “successful” while Nintendo was “failing” and raking it in.

    Nintendo came back with the Wii and DS, of course, but they could have survived perpetually as a “loser”. How can you be a loser when you’re still standing and profiting?

    I treat MMO’s the same way. Any MMO that hasn’t been shut down is a success. Any MMO that hasn’t shed staff is a tremendous success. Any released MMO that is so successful they need to add staff is practically a beacon to the industry.

    We, as fans, have our own parallel systems of evaluating, in which WoW is invariably a “failed” game, and the only success is the first MMO we ever connected with (but haven’t played in years).

  2. I think the game is successful right now. Is it a success? That’s a function of success over a period of time. Warhammer Online was successful. You can’t argue that. 750k in sales? Tons of servers? It is a success? I wouldn’t say so.

    Is this going to cripple WoW? I don’t think so, personally. Much of the same is just that. Much of the same. It’s so easy to go back to what is comfortable when you encounter the slightest hiccup. And let’s face it: Unless Trion sold some souls to the devil, Rift will have hiccups. Maybe not HUGE ones, but some that will jilt people enough to return to previous games.

    I forgot where I read it, but someone was saying that any game that topples WoW right now is going to rip down the entire MMO industry as a whole. I can’t agree more. As an MMO, WoW set the standard. They built the foundation on which the industry is building upon. They ARE the bar. Breaking that bar, and crumbling that foundation means you get to build a new one, and people use you as the bar.

    I don’t know that Rift is there right now. They might get there, or they might not get there. Regardless though, everything that Rift does right is now public domain. There’s a lot of “borrowing” in the MMO world. I wouldn’t be surprised to see WoW bum some Rift mechanics in their new expansion.

    Here’s to competition, though!

  3. I’m just not sure it does have legs. When a game is already being heralded as “nothing new, but that’s OK” then it simply cannot be anything new. We already have old. We have already been-there, done-that.

    The game is good, and it is made very well. Don’t get me wrong. But we have already had max-levels, and it hasn’t even released. When a game is made that fits perfectly within the current style of “AAA” gaming, then you need to compare it to the rest of “AAA” gaming. Right now, “AAA” is not pushing itself. That’s the indie market.

    For me, Rift is like a new Coldplay or U2 album. Sure, it’s OK, no one can really just hate it. But it’s standard large-market fare. Can it make money and be successful? Sure, but so can Lady GaGa.

    In other words, yes it will be successful. Wait until that first free month is over, and those overcrowded servers need to be consolidated since the max-levels start getting bored, and then we’ll see.

    Of course, they’ll just blame Trion for not making content fast enough .lol

    Beau

  4. I thought the same about Aion but apparently, that one’s a fail (leaving aside that it’s popular in Asia and leaving aside that I don’t agree ^^).

    Although, I have to admit, they should have launched more Westernized and maybe, they would have gotten more recognition. I never got far, so I can’t talk about endgame etc. But I did play a bit and I really loved what I saw. Same with Rift (so far). Thus, I’m still a bit cautious here. It does look good but I don’t want to call it a success (or failure!) until I’ve seen it for a bit longer.

    We apparently had our first level 50 on our server, though. That worries me a bit. It’s still headstart and people have arrived in the endgame? O.O

  5. I’m a Rift fanboy, but until they recoup dev costs and start turning that red ink into black, I don’t think it’s a success. And I don’t expect we’re there yet.

    And I’m going to point out that the emperor has no clothes and say the daily server reboot in the midst of prime time is getting old fast, particularly if you sat in a queue to get in.

    It took me 2 hours to get into Faeblight the other afternoon, I played for 15 minutes and they rebooted the servers and I was back to waiting in a queue or doing something else.

    The good news is that so far, there are servers with no queues to play on.

  6. Beau, I don’t think you can say it’s nothing new if you haven’t participated in the massive rifts and invasions. I’ve simply never seen anything like that in any other game, and it’s remarkable how much it changes your play experience.

  7. I played during the last open beta, and had a fun enough time. It wasn’t enough to hook me… however I almost never jump on a game right after release, I usually wait a few weeks or months to let various issues settle. So in that respect, I’m on the sidelines watching with interest, but going to stick with my current game (LoTRO) and probably try out Fallen Earth for a bit, for some sci-fi variety. That being said I hope the game does well, competition is good and all that, and I might give it a try later in the spring.

  8. I will definitively say that Rift will be a larger success than
    Warhammer Online
    Age of Conan
    Vanguard
    Pirates of the Burning Seas
    Champions Online
    Aion

    Nuff said.

  9. I feel it is successful so. Better launch then most recently. I’ll reserve judgement until what people are saying one month or two from now. Also to see how content comes down the tube. They have a really good back system and that make doing stuff a lot easier.

  10. pasmith,

    they used US$ 50 million for build the game.

    If they have 1 million players, it is simple math:

    1 million X US$ 50 = US$ 50 million

    Rift is black ink now… before launch.

  11. But let’s all remember, kiddies, that it’s just the players and fans that cause all the hype! Sheesh.

    I’m curious to see if they have to add servers tomorrow, too. Getting a feel for how much of the playerbase preordered will give a good feel for whether it’s managed to peak already, or what it’s potential longevity might me.

    But the real test will be at two months. Sure, Rifts are fun and new. But will they still be fun and new after you’ve done a hundred of them? Is there really anything there that’s the least bit engrossing for the long haul?

    Two months is when people have had their free month and gotten past that first payment. Let’s see what it’s looking like then before we declare it a success (or failure, for that matter).

  12. @Joao: You’re getting sucked in by marketing hype.

    They’ve said they have a million registered accounts. That’s NOT a million boxes sold. It’s not a million players. It likely covers beta accounts.

    Development costs probably also don’t cover hardware costs, or bandwidth costs, or operational startup costs. Box price includes publishing costs, and retailer costs.

    In short, your math leaves a lot to be desired from both sides of the equation.

  13. Syp —

    This is true, I would need to see that content before making the claim. Still, the point is that new can very quickly become old.

    Simply look at how many people have started podcasts, blogs, or websites to the game before it was even in open beta or pre-release. Gamers are chomping at the bit for anything new. That does not guarantee that they will not grow bored within even weeks. Trust me, it will happen. Rift will lose players, as any other game has (even WoW has, but just maintained a good average) but to measure their success I would say to check on it in a year or two. Even then, it depends on what Trion considers success. At the very least they have shown that hard work CAN produce a very smooth launch and solid title.

    Beau

  14. @João – What @Buhallin said. 1 million people registering for their website isn’t remotely the same as 1 million people buying the game. We just don’t know how many bought the game (heck it could be MORE than a million, tho I doubt it).

    But, they don’t make $50 on every copy sold. They have to produce the boxes and the disks, they have to pay to ship them, the retailers take their cut. I bet they make closer to $15-$20 per box. Granted they make more from digital editions and the most from digital editions purchased direct from Trion.

    But they have to pay for server hardware, bandwidth and electricity out of their profits during that first month, too, since there’s no subscription money coming in.

    And, the $50 million was as of August 2010, and the VC firms will want their dividends coming out of sales…

  15. Here’s an interesting question, Syp. I don’t know if you were blogging then or if it came later, but if you go back and look at your writing during the WAR head start, what were you saying then?

  16. We will know in 2-3 months if the game is a success. I am having a blast in Rift at the moment. A few people in my guild will hit level 30 today, which means they will be leveled capped by the end of the first month. The endgame will really make or break it.

  17. @ Buh – I was enthusiastic, of course, but I honestly didn’t see the overpowering wave that I am now. And I definitely saw problems in WAR’s beta, as did we all.

  18. It *is* hard to say, at this stage, how successful it will be in the long run. But I hear very little negativity about Rift, other than habitual doomsayers. They are basically saying saying it can’t take on WoW because nothing else has been able to. Others can only complain about the long queues (for some servers, while others are no wait).

    Few people seem to remember that EQ2 was gonna dominate the MMO genre, until WoW steamrolled over it on it’s path to MMO glory. Is Rift a WoW killer? Probably not, but did anyone imagine that WoW would be a EQ killer?

  19. what i’m wondering (and be doing research) is how well trion stock will do if this really is a major success…
    maybe make it as the next blizzard/major mmo developer?

  20. I agree with your sentiment Syp. Is RIFT a success? … too early to tell, don’t have all the numbers, etc.

    Does it *feel* like a success?

    Absolutely.

    In many ways that WAR did not. I also played in the WAR headstart and enjoyed it but by the time I got to the capital cities I was already ‘not feeling it’ for many reasons.

    I would say that if your RIFT character is already level 50. In fact if they’re anything over about level 30, then you probably missed the point.

  21. PS

    Here’s two things sealed my sub…

    1. Following a Guardian invasion across Freemarch. I was alone and couldn’t take them on. Instead I watched the wolves and spiders attack them as they moved through the country side. Eventually we got enough players together and we were able to take them out. The mobs joined in.

    2. Speaking to Asha Catori in Meridian and recognizing her and many others standing around as the ones who helped my character escape from Regulos. There’s a great story here.

  22. I don’t think it is much of a leap to call Rift a success. No one can tell how it will do long term.

    I am regretting that our guild rolled on Faeblight though. We still have several people who have not even logged in yet. But it is our choice to stay there. Still I don’t think there is anyway to deny things have gone well so far.

  23. My feeling on this is subjective, it’s not necessarily the best way to gauge a matter involving large numbers of people.

    I feel that unlike AoC with its infuriating blue screening, unlike WAR with its complete lack of gameplay whenever a zone wasn’t packed, RIFT is always fun, rarely frustrates you and has almost everyone who is playing it excited and wanting more.

    That to me suggests that the crucial first 3 month period won’t see the dramatic decline in numbers that other games have experienced.

    It probably has about a million people pre-launch, it will probably go to at least 1.5 million at launch and going by my feeling, I think most (80%+) will sub past the free month.

    If that happens or anything close to that then Rift is a success but it’s not a success yet. It may be likely to be a success, even probable to be a success.

  24. Tough to say. Judging by a quick scan of the comments above, success will be measured by retention and profits, two things we will never know. So it will likely be based on the collective gut feel and the general perception of how persuasive your favourite bloggers are towards the game.

  25. Every MMO launch I’ve ever seen has looked just like this. If you consider Warhammer, Aion, Star Trek Online, etc. to be successes then yeah, go ahead and throw RIFT in there with them. If you have any higher standard than you have to wait and see if this is sustainable or not.

  26. I’m sorry but all we need is waaagh and Paul Barnett screaming and we are right back where we started

    I hope the game justifies all this text I’d like something new

  27. I unfortunately have to agree with the two posters above me. I’m not saying RIFT won’t be a success but having read Syp from September of 2008 this is definitely WAAAGH! all over again.

    Same levels of excitement same predictions. By month 3 it will turn to cautious optimism about the future. By month 5 it will all end with a message along the lines of

    “RIFT is a great game but x, y, and z need work and are keeping me from enjoying the game. Don’t get me wrong I still love the game and will follow it avidly but I am done for now.”

    Five months of fun may definitely be worth it though. Good Luck Syp!

  28. Trion stock: I don’t think this company is publicly traded yet.

    They spent $50 M on RIFT, but how much of that was common infrastructure they’re going to be reusing in their other two games?

    Someone at the start of the thread said any MMO that still has operating servers is a success. Sorry, but that’s not true: operating servers only shows that it’s cash flow positive. It doesn’t show they have, or ever will have, a positive return on investment.

    Personally, I think the investors in Trion are going to make a handsome return on their investment.

  29. Pingback: Too soon? « Massively Multiverse

  30. I say yes – from their pov Rift is already a success in numbers. I am baffled at the polish and completely unproblematic prelaunch of this game, it’s smooth and beautiful and absolutely lagfree.

    A very solid start with some promising potential. Worth keeping two eyes on!

  31. I have two comments:

    1. In my book, any MMO that keeps running and doesn’t close down is a “success”. As a player, I want any game I like to make enough profit to make it worth their while to keep running at least one server that I can play on. Beyond that, frankly I don’t care how much money they do or don’t make or how many press inches they do or don’t generate.

    2. I’ve had the public channels on in Rift all through Headstart. The chat is 99% positive, cheerful, people clearly having a great time. About the only repeated complaint is the log-in queues. There seems to be a complete absence of the usual “this game is the worst thing I ever played” trolling that I’ve seen in most other MMO launches. Can’t remember any game where so many people seemed to be having so much fun right from the start.

  32. One important measure of success is content generation. How quickly will new content be released after launch? If you can hit the cap that quickly then the PVE-centric players will need a steady stream of new content. Sure there’s random rifts and such but as others have said that could get old if it’s all you have….

  33. Pingback: Rift Officially Launches Today, Though It Seems Like It Launched Last Week « The Ancient Gaming Noob

  34. Bhagpuss brings up a good point about general chat. Although I did have to turn it off eventually because I got tired of reading wow hate.

    In my group of friends Rift has brought two guys out of mmo retirement and they are loving it. I’m a wow subscriber since launch and for the first time I’m considering cancelling it. We all are hoping for a better community in Rift as we are all burnt out on the douchebaggery found all too often in wow.

  35. I think it is too soon. But this game is growing on me the more I play it. I had a 12 hour gaming session, and I haven’t had one of those in YEARS!!!

  36. Pingback: Getting my RIFT on! « A High Latency Life

  37. The more successful this game is the more I will be kicking myself in the can for not cashing in on it! :P

  38. Pingback: Rift: Success is Relative « Kill that Cheerleader

  39. @snafzg

    just seeing the name brings back more WAR blog memories that have already been refreshed by this thread. Dive in!

  40. @sleepy – Hah, well more to the point of the article, I’d say Rift is having a very successful launch, but that’s about all you can say about it right now.

    Other MMOS from recent memory with great launches (750k+ sales)? AoC, WAR, Aion…

    You really can’t say how well things will turn out until at least 30-days after launch. Following that, I’d say a 90-day checkup would be in order because that’s when the honeymoon period is definitely over for most gamers unless the game is so good that it continues on.

    I can’t speak to the feel of Rift since I haven’t actively played MMOS for over a year. I tried WoW for a couple weeks when Cataclysm came out but I found League of Legends to be much more satisfying for my limited play schedule.

  41. Pingback: The Day After | Battle Priestess

  42. To all those who keep brining up WAR, I still remember being the doomsayer for WAR at the launch. I wasn’t on that bandwagon.

    Why?

    NICHE

    Rift at least caters to a larger crowd offering both a stable and polished version of game for both PvE and PvP.

    This already puts it BEYOND WAR off the bat.

    I expect Rift to do much better than WAR or the other games I have noted. WoW doesn’t need to be afraid though…but all other MMORPG’s do.

    Cheers

  43. Rift combines my favourite elements of quite a few games into one. Meaningful pvp from DAOC (although it could do with proper sieges though), Public quests in the form of Rifts and they ramped it up too (the fire invasion is just epic :P) decent pve from wow and decent crafting and collecting/harvesting and to boot Collection quests from EQ2 :)

    Personally I quite like the game but it still remains to be seen if it has the long term staying power.

  44. Pingback: Metrics for Success | Ex Post Ninja

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