Trion Worlds' senior VP of marketing reveals challenges in the world of MMOs.
Rift had a good run as a subscription-based MMO before it finally went free-to-play to try to increase its user base. The move has been a successful one for developer Trion Worlds, and is setting a precedent the company may follow for future games.
"I'm actually very pleased with how the team has executed on it," Trion's senior vice president of marketing Noah Maffitt told alistdaily about the Rift shift. "It was a planned transition that's taken months and months to do. They've thought through all the little details very well. We actually saw our sales go up after we announced free-to-play, because we think we have a compelling package around that transition. Our player counts have gone way up, as well. All early signs are good."
Trion has been going through a consolidation, closing it's San Diego and European offices. Former CCO and now CEO Scott Hartsman had said that AAA MMO development was "broken" and needed to be fixed. Maffitt agreed.
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"The old model of making a really big bet, investing tens of millions of dollars in a big launch, that will still happen but I think it will be fewer and fewer titles that will really succeed in doing that, he said. "You'll see a broader base of other titles that grow through a slow build and analytically rich marketing. ... It's not just a one shot $59.95 retail opportunity any more. It's an opportunity to engage over a much longer period of time."
Maffitt said that Trion is still experimenting with Defiance and how to monetize it, as well as determine how to retain the player base. "We're figuring out what works and what doesn't, we're testing a lot of different things," he said. "We're testing different price points for the client, we're testing different promotion around bit sales which is the in-game currency. You listen to the in-game chatter, but that can give you a lot of false signals. A few minority voices can lead the conversation in a way that isn't really truthful or accurate. What we pay attention to is the real behavior, and we're testing that all the time."
Trion Worlds plans to keep evaluating each game and figure out the best way to market them, Maffitt said, downplaying that any one platform is more important than the others. "It's a pretty saturated market out there, and the biggest challenge for the industry is how do you hold that engagement. There's a lot of talk about who will win on the next-gen platforms, and I'm less concerned about that. You need to be where the customers are, and they're going to be on all platforms. It's how do you develop a compelling experience that's available where you want it and when you want it."