Embracing F2P, in Hartsman's opinion, would end up hurting more than helping in this situation: "One of the assumptions people make is you can just take a game and throw a switch and change the model. For starters, you'd have to decide that that would be a good thing, and I do not think it would be -- that would be a fairly large net negative for RIFT and the RIFT community."
While Hartsman confirms that F2P attracts large amounts of users, he also says that it fundamentally changes how an MMO studio approaches the game itself. "Take a free-to-play game or a social game, where the business is all about -- the social games' word for it is, 'going whaling,'" he said. "The idea is you have a paying player subsidising the play of, potentially, dozens or hundreds of other users. And so you have to be willing to create a game that has the ability to make huge sums of money from relatively small numbers of people. Once you decide that you are going to enter the whaling business, it's a different mindset and a different set of goals you're designing for entirely."