Rift has now been on the market. Certain servers have seen populations dwindle, and disappear. The majority of game companies would like to avoid having server merges to avoid looking like their game is dying.
Is Rift dying? There’s a very large controversy on this. Players on both sides have data that shows that Rifts populations are fluctuating up and down constantly.
One thing we do know however, with the opening of free server transfers, some higher population servers are getting swamped while others are becoming ghost towns. What did Trion do to remedy this issue? They took some of the lowest populated shards (20 on the North American side), and converted them to Trial Shards.
There are many restrictions on Trial shards(Rift Gold):
They will only be available to trial accounts for new character creation
Exsisting community subscribers cannot create new characters
Non trial community is urged to move to another server
You can transfer to any server at any time once you have subscribed
These are just a few of the restrictions of these servers. However there is a large outcry from exsisting community members. They cannot create new characters on these shards, they are being told to transfer to a higher populated server which means they may have to change their character names, and guilds are having a hard time holding people together to go to one shard.
My opinion on the Trial Shards is that it is a good idea to have them, to have a place where all trial accounts can play their first 15 levels together to have a population to play with. However, I don’t feel that Trion did this very gracefully for the subscribers who called these servers home. It feels a bit like the government coming in and kicking you out of your home for expansion.