Rift River of Souls ChronicleVideo game publisher Trion Worlds is trying to draw new players into its fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game Rift by offering “Rift Lite,” a version of the game that will allow anyone with a Trion account to experience the first 20 levels for free. The move is similar to one Blizzard Entertainment took in June 2011 with its hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft.

Rift currently costs about $30 at retail and $15/month for the subscription plan. Removing the trial program’s time limit will no doubt benefit more casual players who want to experience some of the game’s content at their own pace before making a commitment. A whole wave of online games are moving toward the free-to-play model, but those at the premium high-end part of the business are still trying to make the subscription model work for long-term players.

“In the past ten months, Rift has evolved at a breakneck pace, through seven massive updates that set new expectations for live MMOs, in features, in content, and in service,” said Scott Hartsman, executive producer of Rift and Trion’s CCO. “We think a Lite edition with no time limit is the best way for players to see what an amazing experience Rift continues to be.”

In addition to Rift Lite, the 1.7 “Carnival of the Ascended” patch features PvP improvements, in-game weddings, a new master mode dungeon called Caduceus Rise, overhauls of the game’s expert dungeons, and better endgame equipment.