I’ve been following the recent beta and headstart of Rift with some interest, despite not doing the beta myself.
Here are a few of my thoughts.
- Rift appears to have captured the hearts and minds of quite a few bloggers. It’s probably one of the biggest topics I’ve seen on the MMORPG blogosphere since Warhammer Online, and the occasional release of juicy SWTOR tidbits.
- The headstart, despite the queues and associated player forum angst seems to have gone extremely well. The only complaints I’ve heard are the queues. It appears that the game is remarkably bug free.
- There’s been at least a million copies sold so far. That is around the same number as Age of Conan, and Warhammer Online sold at/by launch.
- Trion have done a magnificent job with publicity. They gave potential players a lot of beta access, and obviously had the beta in a good state too.
- It looks like Trion have joined the ranks of the MMORPG companies that have managed to balance the player expectations created by their marketing machine with the reality of the product that has launched. It’s a pretty lonely club, has any other developer managed this before?
- Blizzard announced their latest big patch. Other companies made similar strategic announcements. Rift coverage still remained high, barely even noticed Blizzard’s announcement.
- Okay. The question has to be asked. Have we finally got a MMORPG that might be a worthy contender to World of Warcraft?
I guess time will tell how Rift does against WoW. The first couple of months is crucial, and if they get enough servers together to handle the launch day crowds, and the launch goes off smoothly, then Rift could be the next big monkey to challenge WoW and give Blizzard a run for their money.
But as we’ve seen in the past. It takes more than just a good launch to make a game. Age of Conan had a reasonably good launch, but they had minimal content beyond the starter area. That pretty much killed AoCs chances of being one of the top dogs.
Warhammer was the same. Decent launch, but didn’t really get everything else right. Or perhaps it is better said that they didn’t really manage expectations with reality.
Rift is going gangbusters at the moment. If they can get everything right after the launch, then who knows?