I suppose we’ve all heard the news that Age of Conan is joining the not-so-exclusive F2P/Hybrid club. We’re getting to the point — honestly, we’re probably miles past the point — where this is a shocking and stunning development. I like Funcom’s semi-laid back attitude toward this, however, which is to say that “after an MMO’s been out a while, it usually makes sense to go to this model.”
And I can see that. In a way, F2P/Hybrid (or however you want to call it) is the new “trial program” for the new decade. It pulls more players in, it gives established players more options, it increases the game’s visibility (at least for a limited period of time), and it avoids getting so entrenched in the “subscriptions are the only way to do things” mindset that it gets left behind the pack. Not that I think all sub games should go this route, but as a consumer, it’s a win-win for me. I never thought I’d be at a point in my MMO gaming career where the biggest limitation for gaming wasn’t my wallet but my time. Right now, without spending a penny, there are so many great options on the table it makes my head swim.
It does make me wonder why both Star Trek Online and Warhammer Online have yet to do this, as both of those titles could benefit greatly from a similar move, but oh well.
So oddly enough, Age of Conan is shaping up to have a great year between this, all the new content, and the movie tie-ins. I think Funcom needs it, and I hope that it’s successful enough to keep the funding for The Secret World rolling in.
And speaking of movie tie-ins (transition cue!), last night I finally played through the entirety of the Goonies-inspired Inn of the Forsaken in LotRO. This latest update isn’t the game’s largest by far — and in fact, if you don’t like dungeons or skirmishes, you might not even notice anything new at all. But I like that Turbine’s having fun with these instances and coming up with different approaches to them, which is something I always loved in DDO.
Inn of the Forsaken is less of a dungeon crawl than it is an adventure-themed fun house. There are traps, riddle doors, secret passages, and — best of all — a waterslide that leads you down to a pirate ship in a cavern. It’s not as impressive a final reveal as, say, World of Warcraft’s Deadmines pirate ship was, but it still made my group (who hadn’t run it yet) gasp and laugh at the fun of it all.
I’m still really hoping that Turbine gets a much better LFG/LFF tool in place this year, because it’s a shame how hard it is to still find groups in the game, especially considering how they’ve widened the range of available dungeons by scaling and made them easily accessible anywhere in the world through the UI.
FINALLY, tonight I’m hosting a fun game of freeze tag on Landroval at 9pm EST. If you’ve never played LOTRO’s freeze tag or just want to join us, meet up with our kin in Bree-land at the ruins at 26.1S, 49.7W. Trust me, it’s really cool!