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One of the hardest things in any MMORPG is finding a balance between hardcore and casual players. It is one of the biggest contributors to MMORPG changes, yet is also one of the most controversial.

When it comes to finding a balance between casual and hardcore players, it is important to understand the perceived definition of both groups.

  • Casuals: casual players are viewed as being more passive players (playing only during free time and spending a somewhat small amount of time gaming)
  • Hardcore: hardcore players are those that spend a lot of time gaming and are usually related to being further progressed. Since they have more time, it would make sense why they work their way deeper into the game

Note that we are not looking at elitism here, which is the act of striving to be the absolute best, and only hanging around others with the same goal.

When looking at these groups, one of the most important things players need to do is realize that regardless of which one they fit in, everyone has their own wants. As a result, the game companies need to try and find a balance between them.


Within Rift's PvP system, the balance has been ongoing, though slowly. For hardcore players, there is the system of Prestige Ranks, which is a secondary level system to the normal one. This allows players to get better gear and subsequently enhance their damage output and defense, boosting their effectiveness against other players.

For casuals, the balancing started recently with the inclusion of normalized Valor. This kept players that were rank 8 from having a significant amount of Valor and those who are rank 1 having almost none. After this, the system was adapted to boost the system from having 8 ranks to 40, while removing the rank requirements of almost all of the gear.

These changes haven't changed a lot between how the PvP system worked in the past, but it is still a small movement towards finding a balance. The problem with making a massive change that sways in one way or the other is that the opposite side will have an uproar about their displeasure with the change(s). While we already see this now, it is coming from both sides, which shows that it's going good. It's near impossible to keep both sides feeling like everything is “fair.”


The PvE system has been undergoing many more balance tweaks. These have affected just about every area of the game, including mob populations in different areas, balancing classes, raids, dungeons and more.

PvE is arguably harder to balance than PvP is. As a direct example of this, you can take the view that raids were too hard in the past. This caused the hardcore players to be happy, while the casuals were displeased (note: this is a generalization, there were outliers in both groups). As a result, and due to the fact that there are more casual than hardcore players, Trion took the step of making the older raids easier. This is their way of balancing between the groups by letting hardcore players go for the tough raids, while at the same time allowing casuals to do the older content. While the goal there isn't to let everyone easily do the content at the same time, it is to let everyone complete all content at some point.

Another situation in which the game has undergone a big change is in relation to the soul system. Before, you were forced to experiment (or research) with different souls until you found a decent combination that worked for you. As of Rift Patch 1.7, there are preset souls that assist with choosing a good mixture and point allocation plan. This helps casual players by giving them an easy route to get a setup that works, while at the same time it also allows hardcore players the ability to customize builds to min-max for raiding and PvP.

When it really comes down to it, finding a balance between casual and hardcore players takes time. The chances of it ever being 100% balanced are slim-to-none, but Trion has been showing time and time again that they are at least trying to do it. While players on both sides of the fence will find new changes to be problematic, that's exactly what we want. It is impossible to please everyone.


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