Here's a good article by Hal Hanlin from TenTon Hammer.
Interesting questions are asked like the threat of games like GW2, MOP, SWTOR etc etc. A couple of questions that caught my eye are:
Q: Everything’s kind of turning to free-to-play right now, and Rift is one of the last holdouts. The Secret World unfortunately didn’t manage to pull off the subscription model...
I like that game.
Q: I do, too. But you’ve got a steep hill to climb when you’re going to charge $15 per month. And so far, Rift is pulling it off. What do you attribute your success to?
I will stand on any roof and I’ll yell it. The fact is, Lars [Buttler, Trion CEO] exactly nailed it. A year and a half ago--more than that--he and Scott [Hartsman, Rift Producer] were telling this team over and over and over, “Rift is a service, it is not a boxed product. We are not charging $60 for the right to pay us $15 a month. It is a service.” And he held us to that standard.
Scott did a fantastic job of continually setting sign posts for us to work toward, and I had a dedicated team--we all did--and the team is so fanatical about this game that, for us, the idea of going for too long without delivering more rich content was horrible. Because we play the game. I have team members who’ll send me email at 2 AM saying, “I just ran across this quest that somehow got broken by this thing.” That team member’s not telling me that it’s broken and someone needs to fix it, he’s telling me what he’s working on tomorrow. And I come in and, sure enough, he’s working on it.
The passion and the drive to deliver Rift as a service is what’s kept it alive day after day and month after month. I’m committed to that idea. No one can convince me otherwise.
Q: Do you think that the subscription model is getting to be a tougher sell?
Totally. And I think we’re partly to blame for that, because a subscription comes with the expectation of service. And service is expensive. Service is hard. You have to have engineered your entire system to support the service level that we provide. You can’t just say, “Ah, we’ll keep cranking out content.” If your game isn’t designed to have new things added to it constantly, you’re going to have colliding things that don’t make sense, and it’s going to become a mish-mash that just won’t work.
I have so many friends in the industry, and I hate to say it, but they can’t do this. They didn’t start at this point like we did, so they can’t get to this point for free.
Full article here.