LOTRO: Your Free-To-Play Headquarters

Okay… this… this is huge.

I’m going to need some time to digest it, for sure.  I know we’re going to see a lot of words spilled on this subject before the end of the weekend, but there’s a LOT contained in this announcement, and I think it deserves a bit of analysis and pondering before even starting to come to a conclusion.

I will admit to feeling conflicted about it.  I honestly believed Turbine would never take LOTRO F2P because of several factors:

  • A much better subscriber base than DDO had
  • LOTRO is not as modular as DDO and therefore harder to “carve up” into paid content segments
  • The issue of lifetime subscribers who will undoubtedly feel ripped off in this move (especially if they purchased it this year)

But hey, sometimes you have to eat your words, and this is one of those times.  On one hand, F2P never has elevated a game to a classy level, and LOTRO is a very classy game.  I’m afraid it’ll drag it down, cheapen it somewhat, and tick off the incredibly loyal fanbase.  On the other hand, it’s a win for consumers, should grow the game’s population, and urge Turbine to crank out content more quickly in the future.

So we’ll see.  As a lifetime sub, at least I don’t have to worry as much about making a choice between keeping a subscription or downgrading to a F2P account.  I certainly hope and pray that this signals a big shot in the arm for the game and a commitment to a long life for the title.

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18 thoughts on “LOTRO: Your Free-To-Play Headquarters

  1. victorstillwater June 4, 2010 / 9:49 am

    LONG LIVE LOTRO! 😀

  2. Grimnir June 4, 2010 / 9:58 am

    I don’t understand how they think going F2P is going to make them a ton of money. It works for games that are choking on a subscription model and don’t have enough subs to support it, but shouldn’t they be worried that their dedicated fanbase will either A. Up and leave, disgusted with F2P games and what they represent or B. End their sub and ride the F2P train largely unaffected?

    The other MAJOR problem I see with them making this move is simply a matter of precedent, and a seriously ugly one at that. If LotRO, arguably one of the top 5 most successful non-F2P MMO’s on the market, can turn F2P and make MORE money, why should ANYONE stay with a subscription model? I need my gated mansion to keep the scrubs mostly at bay, if all MMOs were F2P I think I would probably just stop playing them entirely.

    Very sad announcement IMO.

  3. Attic June 4, 2010 / 10:12 am

    Yeah… I’m one of those guys who purchased a lifetime sub back in Feb. Though after the usual couple of minutes of righteous indignation my only real problem with the whole thing is that it feels like they’re lengthening my ROI without any compensation.

    That and since I don’t play very much I fear that the newbie zones that I’m still stuck in will become a morass of arse. I can totally see the Shire being the LotRO Barrens.

  4. Drannos June 4, 2010 / 10:20 am

    I have a some of the same concerns – at least about the *types* of people we may see join our ranks. I’ve always enjoyed LotRO as much for the story and world as for the somewhat more mature players it has. This change could significantly impact that.

    However, if it keeps Turbine in business and gets me closer to Mordor, I’m behind their decision. I’ve never been nearly as invested in an MMO as I am in LotRO – and I’m in it for as long as they keep the servers up (barring any MAJOR faux-pas Turbine commits…).

    Besides, in all of the games I’ve ever played, I’ve been fine avoiding the truly obnoxious. I don’t think LotRO is different enough to pull the truly puerile WoW kiddies, and kinships can go a long way towards filtering out the rest.

  5. Dblade June 4, 2010 / 10:25 am

    I hear you, Syp. I can’t believe they did that. I hope they manage not to kill it in the transition, but since it’s going to F2P I will never play it. I don’t want to support that payment model.

    Sorry, man. I know if one of my games went that way I’d be more than conflicted, I’d be mad and worried as hell.

  6. Bsyc June 4, 2010 / 10:32 am

    I feel the same way. I don’t think this is good for the tight knit LOTRO community. I really feel bad for the current LOTRO players. This is like letting a ton of drunk frat guys crash your private party.

    I have a question and cannot find the answer in the FAQ’s or the forums: I played for a while but now have an inactive account. Can I retrieve my old toon and play it (with all of my gear and the level where I was at when I stopped playing) when the game goes F2P? Because, honestly, I don’t want to start the game over from level 1.

  7. Lars June 4, 2010 / 10:45 am

    Lifers are whining. There are so many restrictions on free/premium users, being VIP is exactly what they paid for plus some. So what if a few other people get some basic features for free. That will help encourage more people to subscribe.

    I’m a lifer in Star Trek Online and quite frankly I would be happy if Cryptic made it free to play along similar lines (VIP subscription model) if it meant more resources to invest in the game.

  8. Lars June 4, 2010 / 10:48 am

    Er maybe I misread. I thought lifers became VIP members. They only get a few Turbine points? OK I’d be pissed.

  9. Lars June 4, 2010 / 10:51 am

    Nope, didn’t misread. “As a lifetime subscriber to LOTRO, you will keep all of your membership privileges and are automatically upgraded to VIP status. You will receive 500 Free Turbine Points every month like the other VIPs, but you do not have to pay a monthly fee since you are a lifetime member.” So yeah, I think it’s fine. Sorry for the spam. 🙂

  10. ramizeth June 4, 2010 / 10:57 am

    When I saw this Blog post I quickly looked at my calander to see what today’s date was and alas this is not April 1st. Not sure how this will be done with LoTRO but I guess the writing was on the wall with Turbines success with DDO and F2P.

    Now, I wonder if TP will be universal!

    I am still in shock and need to digest.

  11. moxie June 4, 2010 / 11:43 am

    If it’s a shot in the arm for LotRO, then I’m all for it. It’s a great game and I’m taking the optimistic view that this will help them re-energize it and make it profitable enough to keep pushing out content.

    I’m a Lifetimer, but since I bought that at launch, this news doesn’t worry me so much… I’m pretty much playing for free at this point anyway. I feel bad for the folks that just bought their Lifetime subs, but at least they’ll be getting the free points in the LotRO store. I think Turbine did a really good job of trying to make their F2P memberships as fair as possible to everyone.

  12. Tesh June 4, 2010 / 12:00 pm

    I dunno about the classy argument. I’ve always thought that subscription games were bottom dwellers, padding out their game design with idiotic grinds and time sinks to squeeze more money out, instead of just being great games. 😉

  13. Buhallin June 4, 2010 / 12:33 pm

    We recently returned to LOTRO. I was getting a bit of a sick feeling looking at all the restrictions, until I realized that if we stay as a sub, as we are now, it seems like nothing actually changes. No big.

    I have to say, however, that watching the community pat itself on the back over how AWESOME they are, and how this is going to let all the undesirables in and ruin it for everyone, is pretty disgusting. I do think the LOTRO community is probably friendlier than most, but they’ve got their own downsides and this announcement has brought the ugly out in spades.

  14. Sinborn June 4, 2010 / 1:12 pm

    I look at it from this perspective: If this game goes F2P, I probably will not have to pay for future expansions.

    That’s a pretty impressive trade-off considering. Other people will essentially be paying for my future $50 investment when a new content clump comes out. However, the fact that the chart evidences the need for expansions makes this F2P not so F2P on client-side. Hopefully, expansions will be modular purchases and that future ‘expansions’ will be opened up via VIP.

    As for the community, I’m the sort that doesn’t think they’re a bunch of stuck-up douchebags and that their concerns are valid. However, they’re going to need to step up in the face of adversity like Sam v. Shelub and channel that rage into something akin to a spike rending that horribly smelly underbelly with the corpse-like glow.

  15. Yeebo June 4, 2010 / 1:21 pm

    Going FtP didn’t really hurt the community of DDO at all as far as I can tell. You can ask questions in the advice channel and get…advice (it’s crazy). Folks also use the trade channel mainly for trades (shocking no?). I’ve gotten some great advice and even some nice gear from random strangers in my time there.

    I think a lot of current LoTRO players are afraid the newbie areas will degenerate to the level of WoW (e.g., “the Shire will be the new Barrens.”). From my time in other MMOs, FtP and sub based< I'd say the main way to have a community better than WoW's is really just to not be WoW . . . or X-box live ("shudder").

  16. We Fly Spitfires June 4, 2010 / 3:43 pm

    This is the first “big” MMO to go F2P so I gotta wonder how much door it will open and what the future will hold…

  17. Bill Murphy June 7, 2010 / 9:31 am

    With the Lifers being compensated by never having to pay for the VIP status, I’m perfectly okay with this. Especially because I always love LotRO, but never am able to play it for very long so I always let my subscription lapse. Now I won’t have to worry about that come Fall, and I can always jump into Middle-earth whenever I want.

    I’m completely stoked.

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