One thing I’ve noticed in Rift’s Nightmare Tide is more pressure to spend money. I don’t mean in terms of a sales pitch; I mean in terms of making the game less tedious.
For example, two new things in Nightmare tide are Earring Slots and the Planewalker “attunement” which allows you to wear some of the new gear. Each of these costs 100,000 Void Stones (the new zone event currency) in the Rift Store. The Planewalker attunement is account-wide, but the Earring Slots must be bought for each character. It is technically possible to grind out the Void Stones to buy those two important things without spending cash to unlock them, but keep in mind that there is a limit of 35,000 Void Stones you can collect per week, so you have to grind zone events for a minimum of six weeks to get both of those items for one character.
Me? I happily paid to get the $50 Collector’s Edition so I don’t have to do that for any character. (Even the $25 edition comes with them, so I highly recommend it.) Did I have to pay to get those things? No. Did I have to pay so that I didn’t die of boredom getting those things? Abso-freakin-lutely. (For reference, I don’t think I’ve picked up more than about 5,000 Void Stones in a week yet, and I’ve been playing a lot, so the amount of effort it would take to grind out 35,000 a week is mind-boggling.)
Now technically, you don’t need to wear earrings or have Planewalker attunement gear. You can still do everything in the game (I assume). I’m a relatively new level 65 and I’m only wearing two Planewalker items, and I’m not having any trouble with world quests and zone events. (Mobs are more difficult at 65 than they were at 60, though.) But obviously, you’re not going to be invited to any high-end Raids without earrings, and it’s going to be that much more difficult to meet the Expert Dungeon requirements without the stats from two extra items (and two extra rune enhancements).
The other area I’ve felt pressure to spend money in is Crafting. Crafting materials are abundant in the Plane of Water. However, it costs a lot of platinum to level up your crafting skills from 375 to 450, in the form of training recipes and store-bought materials. It costs so much money that it would be super convenient for me to drop $10 for a REX thingy, which I could sell for about 1250 platinum. The most platinum I’ve ever had on my main character is about 450, and that was when Attanium was selling like hotcakes. Alternatively, rather than taking your chances with REX prices, you can now, for the first time ever, buy the store-bought crafting materials for 3 credits each instead of spending the expensive 1 platinum each.
And lest you think you don’t need the store-bought materials, I can assure you that nearly every single crafted item going from 375 to 450 requires at least 1 store-bought item (essence, wax, string, etc.). The least expensive way to level from 375 to 450 seems to be to save up your materials and level up all at once with a +160% Transcendent Skill Sphere, which if you don’t have one costs 1000 credits. It’s credits well spent, though, in my opinion, because of the savings you’ll reap from not having to spend so much on materials. (I happen to have some from previous giveaways, and I plan on using them.)
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind spending money on Rift at all. But this is the first time I can remember feeling any kind of pressure to buy. Pressure in the sense that it’s better and/or more enjoyable to spend money than to play for free. In the past, I’ve felt that spending money is only necessary once you’ve grown bored of a particular activity that was inherently fun, whereas now the activity is so tedious and time-consuming that you don’t even want to start on it.
Despite all of that above, Rift is still a cheap game in the global scheme of things. If you’re keeping score, so far I have spent $70 on Rift Nightmare Tide. $50 for the Collector’s Edition and $20 for some Credits which I used on Minion slots and some Minion cards. I could have gotten away with spending only $25 for the cheapest Collector’s Edition and had much the same experience. Considering I just paid some $90 for Warlords of Draenor and a 3-month subscription (and I still haven’t played more than a few hours of it), what I’ve spent on Rift so far is a bargain and for me, it has a lot more bang-for-the-buck.