Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Superior marketing

I am seriously impressed with Trion. Every MMORPG company I know is offering free server transfers from high-population servers to low-population servers. Only Rift manages to announce this exact same feature, a move to "select shards", and get widely praised for revolutionizing the MMORPG business model with free server transfers. Kudos! Well done, Trion!
The marketing is indeed superb.

I think they picked up on the uproar the whole "premium to play with your friends on other servers" issue that Blizzard spawned and pretty much said:

"Want to play with friends on other servers? It's free, go nuts
special restrictions may apply "

Considering they:
a) timed their launch superbly
b) updated the game in a timely manner to keep people subscribed
c) know how to promote the game through social networking

it shows that they have a very long term plan laid down. Good for them.
Word on the street is that Trion licensed Apple's patented Reality Distortion Field™ from Steve Jobs.
Well they're only giving Blizzard back what Blizzard have been dishing out.

I listened to No Prisoners No Mercy 85 yesterday. Sister Fran was computing the astonishing revenue WoW would bring in from 11.4 million players times $15/month without realising that she'd fallen victim to a PR shell game. (Most WoW players are Asians paying far less than $15/month, and the local distributor takes a huge cut of what they do pay).
If the praise is made by Rift players/community then it shows that an MMO probably strives to win the non-veteran MMORPGers than to cater to the MMORPGers. If Rift becomes a success it just proves that you make more money by copying stuff that was done before because to your audience, everything is new. The market to those who have never tried an MMORPG (but willing to) is big?
Didn't Trion improve on the Blizzard form of server transfers? For WoW you can transfer for free only if you are on a high-population server and then only once every 3 months or so? If you are not on a high-population server you must cought up
$20 and the same 3 month restriction applies.
In Rift you can transfer for free, from whatever server you want to whatever server you want and you can do so every week.

That seems like a big improvement to me, or maybe I misunderstood their offering?
In Rift you can transfer for free, from whatever server you want to whatever server you want and you can do so every week. That seems like a big improvement to me, or maybe I misunderstood their offering?

You misunderstood the "to whatever server you want" part of your description. You can only change to "select shards" as Trion expresses it in the small print. And they said that the basis for that "selection" is their goal to equilibrate server and faction balance. At the very least that means that when you move somewhere, it is almost certain that you won't be able to move back to your original server if you change your mine.
I was also caught by surprise by the fine print. So, I agree. Good marketing, not much else.
You can only change to "select shards" as Trion expresses it in the small print.

Ah, that makes it considerably less interesting. So, yeah. Good marketing, because that is not what is reported.
Next thing you know they'll start to use NLP on the loading screens to make sure you keep playing :-)
I am honestly at a loss as to what Trion is putting in their cool-aid... People either love them or hate them publicly.

Watching the fanboys/haters on since this news was posted there has been interesting. Some folks saying its a great thing since lower dungeons aren't ran.

I honestly don't think, with the limited replayability of Rift, you will see a miracle tide of lowbies swarming into run the lower end instances. There may be some, but honestly, most people play the whole game without touching one instance while leveling.

The ninja-looters and whatnot is also a concern I see posted a lot, one which I immediately thought of myself. of course some peoples retort for that was 'The community already sucks'...

The community sucks, so it can't possibly suck any worse isn't exactly a great selling point I would want my players spouting off on public forums if I was a game dev.

In the end... it is, and that site has some of the most 'special' people on the internet. Only way to tell exactly how things pan out for Trion is to let them pave their own way. Either it will burn them (their first event), or it'll be a success.
Well this all depends on the implementation doesn't it. Yes, this could be just transfers from the two high population servers to the two lowest, such as in WoW.

Or it might be a general ability to transfer and retransfer with very small limitations like not transferring to the high population servers that still have queues months after game launch.

I'm inclined based on their performance so far to think it will be closer to the latter, not the former.
"I am honestly at a loss as to what Trion is putting in their cool-aid... People either love them or hate them publicly."

The reason for the divergence is that Rift represents a disruptive technology.

Either the direction that Wow follows (EJ appeasement) or Rift follows (wholesale community collaboration) will WIN. [you know pwn - get moola, truckloads of cash etc]

The interesting thing is... how Rift's ideas will influence SWTOR?
I'm at a bit of a loss for the negative reaction to the announcement. Yes there are going to be "conditions," and yes those conditions are not going to satisfy everybody. But Trion would be fools to roll this service out and then set the conditions in such a way as it denies people on "dead" servers an opportunity to move to more populated ones where they can find groups and guilds. I can't see them being that foolish and so from my perspective, this is just Trion making the best of a bad situation. They made a mistake at launch and overcompensated by adding too many servers to relieve queues. Now they have to address that mistake.

Of course if they ARE so foolish as to not let people off their dead servers, then I take back my statement. :P
I could be wrong but it seems as though you dislike the people who… I’ll say ‘defend’ Trion and Rift. Now I know you often play devil’s advocate but how are we, Rift players, supposed to react to this news? (You could say MMO players in general)

Is it the fact that they are doing free server transfers in order to adjust for population imbalances on servers (Some low some high) or is it that they aren’t being heavily criticized for it?

I can’t say why everyone is being more forgiving of Trion, but I can speak for myself. I’m comparing Trion’s handling of Rift to all the other MMOs that have come out over the past few years. In comparison Trion is doing an amazing job with PR, patches, and keeping the players informed on the forums.

Rift is the most fun I’ve had in a MMO in many years.
how are we, Rift players, supposed to react to this news?

How do WoW players react to the news of an announced free server transfer? Not at all, as there have been hundreds of them in the past. And frankly, the number of people actually using them is very small.
But this isn't WoW. This is a newly launched MMO. All of the newly launched MMOs since WoW have failed to react fast enough with these kinds of changes.

While Rift is indeed competing against WoW they are being compared to the other failed MMO launches of the past few years. I believe that is why they are getting off... easier.

One can't really say that there's much criticism of Trion Worlds or their fans here today. Like you say, they certainly appear to have a good PR crew. Not entirely unlike Apple, like Carson 63000 pointed out. And as they have demonstrated lately PR beats good tech every day of the week (this year!).
Offering free transfers once a week to maintain shard balance (which for a game like Rift is very important to its viability) is more than just marketing. Especially since they want to allow guild transfers as well.

The free transfers to imbalanced shards itself isn't impressive. Its the once a week, part of its 3rd major patch that's the impressive part. It shows they are paying attention, and have a real commitment to dynamic content.

Maintaining shard balance in a game with dynamic content is not trivial. Blizzard avoids it, WAR did a horrible job with it. Trion may itself fail. But at least they are doing something.

That field(tm) is why people associate Steve Jobs with inventing every Apple device from the Ipod to said field.

Its amazing how much credit he gets now for Apple, compared to the actual amazing work he did previous to this making Pixar the unmatched top-of-the-line animation house that it is today.

It gets pretty nuts when their stock takes a huge hit if he gets a cold. Like if he died all progress on all R&D would grind to a halt.
@Angry Gamer

I am honestly flabbergasted at your perspective.

IF there is any divergence here its:

A) WoW / Rift model (THEMEPARK)


B) Eve / Darkfall model (SANDBOX)

By your thinking, the only two types of MMO are THEMEPARK and THEMEPARK 2.0++. Or in other words keep reskinning the same game every few years.

Its not a divergence to copy & paste entire games....not in the least. When your main selling point is essentially being an updated graphics stable-launched WoW...god how could ANYONE think this was divergence?

Joke post?
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Whatever you can say about Rift the game, from the outside it sure looks like Trion is a better performing company than the WoW portion of Activision-Blizzard.

In particular, Trion seems to be doing pretty well on getting new content out; which seems wise considering Blizzard's slow development process. It does seem Trion is (appearing) to attack Blizzard where it is most vulnerable. IDK how much of that is good management, luck, or good PR.
As someone who bought in this weekend with the Steam sale and has only just started drinking the Kool-Aid, here's my 2 cents.

Rift is taking a different approach than other recent MMOs I've seen and tried, who tried to go toe to toe with WoW. Games like WAR always seem to be "WoW, but different." Rift seems to be targetting "WoW, but better."

I don't know if I agree with if they succeeded, but the whole game feels more like it was WoW redesigned from the ground up. Same end goals, same tools, different approach with an extra 5+ years of tech under it's belt. I have the same spells on the same keys as when I played WoW a year ago, and I can play it in my sleep.

It has just enough of a difference to tickle all the explorer parts of my mind, while being so similar I forget which game I'm playing some times. To me, it feels like a giant WoW expansion, and I'm fine with that. I liked WoW, as do millions of others, I think it's a huge compliment to say Rift is so similar.

Everything that I've found that feels "different" doesn't seem unreasonable for WoW to release in a patch, much less an expansion. Even your April Fools joke about Deathwing Rifts took me all weekend to realize it was an AF joke, and nobody I spoke to about it realized it either.
I don't recall WoW ever having an open ended free character move system with no restrictions on the origination server, that allowed you to move again in 7 days.

It seems like Rift took a system and made it more user friendly while at the same time not making a bad choice of allowing people to cram servers that are already full?

Maybe I drink to much koolaid.
Guild Wars was doing this in 2005, so am a bit surprised at the news that some people find it amazing. In game, though, allowing these sorts of moves does seem like a generally good idea.
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