LOTRO: The devalued Turbine Point

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.

19 thoughts on “LOTRO: The devalued Turbine Point

  1. James September 9, 2011 / 1:35 pm

    Funny, I worked all this out last night (because it was payday) and I decided on the middle Isengard preorder.
    By my calculations, just the TP alone was worth the extra $10 since 1000 TP should be just over $13 (assuming it’s still $7.95 for 600 points). But with my tendency to repeatedly create new alts the free mount saves 500 silver for each new alt.

    I’m sure, though, that after the launch of Isengard they will continue to have sales in the store. If they do the $11 for 1100 TP again on Nov 11th plus some 20% or 50% off sales for zones, it’ll balance out eventually….

  2. Buhallin September 9, 2011 / 2:09 pm

    Am I understanding this right? After release, there won’t be a cash purchase option for the expansion? It will ONLY be available via TP?

    And on a side note, that may be one of the more unfortunate acronym choices in a while…

  3. Crell of Riddermark, Vanguard September 9, 2011 / 2:44 pm

    There will still be a webstore ‘cash’ purchase option at launch. Pricing and configurations have not been released.

  4. Atzumo September 9, 2011 / 2:53 pm

    “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.”

    This is pretty much everyone view in the “situation” (read: problem). Turbine just plain want to say: “Screw TP, I want $$$”
    Specially now that being VIP is basically a waste of money (if you are 65 that is) since is assumed that all updates after 5 will make the vips pay for the new content (I foresaw so after the last 2 new instances, even if they were free for vips).
    As for me, I’m quiting now. I can always come back if Turbine common sense grows back after all

  5. James September 9, 2011 / 3:01 pm

    “As for me, I’m quiting now. I can always come back if Turbine common sense grows back after all”

    Is it even possible to quit a free game? That sounds a little like telling everyone you’re not going to eat at McDonald’s anymore because they keep smiling at you.

    Because smiles, after all, are free.

  6. ravious September 9, 2011 / 3:03 pm

    I really want an economist to tell me whether TP is in fact “devalued.”

  7. Christie September 9, 2011 / 3:05 pm

    In this case (RoI content) the TP is devalued, but not overall as the title of the article suggests. And maybe Turbine needs the “make-or-break” crossroads KTR mentions. Maybe there are simply too many F2P account for the game to be sustainable. Personally, I don’t feel Turbine is under any obligation to make the Turbine Points cost equal to the pre-purchase price. With coupon codes, LotRO store sales on quest packs, and bundle offers, thrifty players will be able to acquire the content. I respect the fact that I am in the minority on this matter. I just can’t stop myself from rolling my eyes a bit when people get up in arms about cash shop prices in F2P games.

  8. GlenD September 9, 2011 / 3:25 pm

    Good. Personally I think the F2P players should be limited to the starting zones with a level cap of 20. Any thing more should be VIP only. F2P should be a teaser to get people to pay for the game, but unfortunetly Turbine sees it differently.

  9. thevirtualexplorer September 9, 2011 / 3:41 pm

    @GlenD Then it would have to be called F2Plimited or something. Or they could just call it a trial like they used to .

  10. ramizeth September 9, 2011 / 3:44 pm

    I really have no sympathy for anyone that complains about prices in a cash shop for a FTP game especially when there are other options available to get said content.

    Anyways, to break down the pricing a bit further, the only thing someone who is strictly F2P would by at the start is the quest pack for 3250 TP. There is really no way a casual player would be doing the 24 man raid Draigoch’s Lair thus wouldn’t need to spend 1250 TP. And if by chance there is one or two its not needed till level 75 so one can wait. This content is basically for raiders and those are mainly VIPs anyway and have bought or will buy the expansion with real money.

    The instant dungeon pack is 1495 TP but not out till December. Lots of time for FTPer to make more TP from in-game deed finishing. With over 40 Deeds in the expansion alone that’s a fair bit of free TP as rewards.

    So basically any FTPer has to shell out 3250 TP now and any that actually has level 65s that would be ready to head into the new areas would most certainly have a few TP in storage at that stage. The 3250 TP is basically the same cost of the cheapest pre-order option of 29.99.

  11. ArcherAvatar September 9, 2011 / 6:38 pm

    Micro Transactions were created by people who like to brutally torture puppies and kittens in front of little children… and they drink the tears.

    I’ve always been a little shocked by the naivete of gaming communities proclaiming the “virtues” of F2P models… Proponents shout loudly that it “can” be done right… be done better than this… but this is inevitably the result… it’s merely a question of how long it takes for it to come about.

  12. Carson September 9, 2011 / 8:36 pm

    I’m in a bit of bind here. I haven’t really played LOTRO for a couple of months due to being so wrapped up in Guild Wars. It’s hard to bring myself to drop $30 on an expansion for a game that I’m not currently playing, especially since I don’t have any characters at level cap, so Isengard doesn’t really mean that much to me. On the other hand, it’s hard to accept the price doubling if I don’t buy it in the next week or two.

    Unfortunately for Turbine, the most likely outcome is that I won’t buy it at all.

  13. Telwyn September 10, 2011 / 1:44 pm

    Well this is an easy choice for me. I play LoTRO casually, mostly only a couple of hours a week. I have a lifetime account so plenty of TP stored up. I’ll buy the expansion when it first goes on sale as I’m not even into Moria yet so have plenty of content to do still. I think the pre-order benefits are a real turn-off for me (unlike those for Mirkwood) as I don’t want to level any faster.

  14. Noend September 10, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    It appears to actually be a benefit Turbine is giving to early adopters which is likely their most loyal customers. I applaud them for making pre-order people the better offer.

    It is not devalued as you can earn Turbine points for free. So in that scenario has Turbine somehow devalued cash?

    Lastly, are you really waiting because $30 is such a big deal to spend on a hobby that will give many nights of enjoyment? If yes, quit, you don’t need a hobby you need more productive time.

  15. Pointy September 10, 2011 / 10:09 pm

    Quoting: “… is assumed that all updates after 5 will make the vips pay for the new content…”

    Is this true? If so, doesn’t it rather defeat the object of ‘Pay money into the system, get everything that’s available’? It doesn’t seem right that VIPs should have to pay for additional content (other than actual expansion packs) with their Points. That’s why they PAY in the first place!

  16. Sidarin September 12, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    Odd I made a comment on my own blog and that happened. Sorry if no one liked that quoted post, it must be automatic as I had no intention of advertising my own blog. But I was trying to advertise syp and his blog or at least mention it.

    But is it possible that this might be an unofficial price? Turbine seems to have a knack of saying they will give one thing then they will change what they promised at the last second and claim that they never did by “purging” the forums.

  17. snickeringcorpses September 19, 2011 / 1:49 pm

    Here’s the thing that’s bothering me: people are comparing a PRE-ORDER price to a non pre-order price. Since when does any game cost the same amount after a pre-order as during the pre-order? Isn’t that the original point of pre-ordering, to get the game at a discount in return for giving the developers cash early? Granted, other goodies have been added along the way to sweeten the deal on pre-orders.

    Possibly, Turbine might have been better off releasing both a TP and a cash price for the non-preorder version at the same time, so that the comparison would be between them. But we seem to be forgetting what pre-order means in this uproar.

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