Yesterday Turbine announced the in-game pricing for its Rise of Isengard expansion, which turned out to be an eyebrow-raising experience. It’s… not good.
Problem #1: Under this pricing, the expansion is way, way cheaper to pre-order with real-world dollars than in-game points. Like, a factor of 50% less expensive. I think a lot of people were looking at the price point of past expansions in game (Moria and Mirkwood) and assuming that it would be in the same ballpark. But considering that 100 Turbine Points is (depending on your conversion rate) more or less $1 US, we’re talking $60 to get the same content that pre-orders are going to get. It’s weirdly unbalanced.
Problem #2: There’s no option to buy all of the expansion in one lump sum with TP the way people can do with a credit card on the Turbine site. You have to buy piecemeal, partially because it’s how the in-game store is set up, and partially because some of the expansion’s content won’t be released for a couple months from now (the five new instances). It feels scattered and close to that nickle-and-dollaring approach people tend to dislike.
Problem #3: One of the pre-order extras, the 25% bonus XP trinket, is apparently going up in the store for 995 TP ($10). Some pre-orders are miffed that it’s not exclusive, others are miffed that it’s not being rolled in standard if you buy the in-game expansion pack.
Now, to be fair, there are a few upsides here as well:
Upside #1: Turbine is giving away a lot for free in this expansion — the ability to play one PvMP creep class, all of the new zones, the class skill revamps, the ability to level to 75, and the 60-chapter epic book that’s coming with the expansion. If you’re dead broke, you still have a lot to explore and enjoy without having a gate crash down in front of you saying, “This far and no farther!”
Upside #2: We’re informed of this early enough so that people who may have been holding off on pre-ordering in favor of using TP still have the option to pre-order and get a better deal. If Turbine had announced this the day before the expansion released, it would’ve been a marketing blunder.
Upside #3: At least players aren’t being forced to spending $60 in-game for the entire expansion, but have the option to purchase the slice of content they want — quests, raid, or dungeons. There’s choice here — it may not be the best deal overall, but if only the quests interest you and you have the 3250 TP to spare, you can get what you want without having to dig out your credit card.
Upside #4: VIP players and lifetimers could have accumulated enough TP to get what they want from this expansion without any additional cost to them. At 500 bonus TP a month, a half-year or so of play will have netted enough for the expansion’s quests, at least. This may be a non-issue for many premium players.
Let’s go to reactions and analysis from the blogosphere:
Player vs. Developer: “With the unveil of Turbine’s pricing plan for players who fail to pre-order the Isengard expansion, the model feels more like a threat than a bargain.”
Doc Holiday: “While I’m happy they finally released the information, I’m actually a bit surprised as the price seems a tad on the high side. Totally almost 7000 TPs for the entire expansion certainly isn’t a good return on you investment when you could buy it for $30 and most of the point bundles are around $0.01 per point.”
Spinksville: “Now, it obviously makes sense from Turbine’s point of view to devalue points in favour of cash whenever they get the chance. This being the case, anyone who stocked up on turbine points when they were on special deal with the aim of using them to buy the expansion has lost out here.”
Kill Ten Rats: “This is basically the make-or-break point for any current players. Either you pay the $30 for an Isengard pre-order or you quit, because the Turbine Point cost is not worth it.”
I’m wondering how much Turbine’s hands might be tied on this, at least until update 5 comes out and the company can offer combo deals for the quests/raid/dungeons. The general consensus — and mine as well — is that the TP cost is far out of whack with the pre-order cost, and should be lowered to a much more reasonable rate.