Well, I am personally not surprised at this news. Following the demise of RIFT Korea, the various gaming media outlets in China are all reporting on how RIFT China is currently struggling for players less than 2 months after launch.
The P2P business model is blamed as 1 of the major factors, with publisher Shanda Games charging 0.49 CNY (0.08 USD) per hour after level 20, with no other packages (daily, weekly or monthly) available. Based on this, 30 days of unlimited game time will cost around 57.60 USD.
Other factors blamed include unsolved bugs, technical errors, the massive number of bot characters allowed to swarm the servers and the over Westernized aspects of the game itself.
The number of searches for RIFT China (时空裂痕) on China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, dropped drastically since launch, as seen in the official graph below.
In order to boost population, the data for all 5 main servers have been connected, allowing more players to engage in cross-server partying for dungeons and events.
The Chinese media are calling it a “massive server merge” behind all the pretty marketing terms. A new PvE server was opened recently as well to attract more “care-bear” players.
Ever since the really lame “Americanized” campaign for RIFT China began, I have always penned the game for absolute failure in the world’s biggest online gaming market. Most of the Chinese player do not even know who the celebrities seen below are, with tens of millions of USD spent on hiring them.
Design-wise and various other elements considered, RIFT is just NOT a good fit for Asian countries. Slapping a P2P business model on top of all these seems like the business team just graduated from high school, with Blade & Soul China announced to be Free-to-Play and ArcheAge China might follow suit as well. If these 2 are going F2P, what gives RIFT the “rights” to stay P2P?
A personal point of view from following the China market, Shanda Games is just not a good publisher at all for the more major titles. Yes, I am surprised they currently renewed Aion China for a further 3 years, but I can’t help but to have a feeling the company is just trying to put up a strong front.