LotRO F2P?!?

Turbine and Codemasters dropped a huge news bomb on the MMO community today by announcing that LotRO is going free to play on both the US and EU servers.

First reaction? I have to say I was disappointed. Going F2P makes it seem like the game was in trouble, which was a reaction I saw from several people on Twitter. Also, with the recent acquisition by Warner Brothers, was this really Turbine’s idea? Not that it makes any difference, I’m just curious.

After I read through what the free-to-play switch means for me as a founder and lifetime subscriber, my initial disappointment subsided partially. For me the game will not change much. I will still have access to all of the same features and content as before, and I still won’t be paying any money except for expansions. There will be a new button somewhere to launch the store, and I’m betting it will be up on the minimap near where the lorebook button is now. There will also be a new UI interface to show me how many Turbine Points I have somewhere assuming they’re handled like they are in DDO. Thank Eru that TP’s probably won’t take up bag space like Skirmish Marks. As far as getting Turbine Points in game? I’m ambivalent about having a message congratulating me on getting a TP reward, this seems like it is going just a hair’s breadth over the immersion line for me.

Beyond all of the game and financial mechanics, my major concern regarding the free-to-play switch is what impact this will have on the community. LotRO is well known for having some of the most mature and friendly player communities. I can personally vouch for Landroval. Even in the hub areas (like Bree and 21st Hall) the chat is wonderfully free of complaints, Chuck Norris jokes, and WoW comparisons. The user channel GLFF does get a bit woolly, but it’s not one tenth as bad as the infamous Barrens chat. So will we see an influx of bad apples in the fall? How much of a barrier was that $15 a month to keep all the bored level capped players in other games from rolling on a LotRO server just to try and stir things up?

There’s a discussion about this very topic on the forums today. Clover posted that it’s up to the existing players to keep the community feel by welcoming newcomers. That is partly true where a new player is actually interested in the game, but it ignores the type of player who is just there to grief people. With monsterplay restricted to subscribers only and fully-consensual, there’s no concern about spawn camps or ganking, but someone can still come over and grief in chat.

The community impacts are my biggest concern. Turbine has to be banking on a big influx of players, their current F2P policies aren’t going to yield any additional revenue from lifetime subscribers (soon to be lifetime VIPs). Actually they may lose some revenue there, since further expansions will be purchasable through the store with TPs. So if there’s nothing I’m interested in purchasing, I’ll be collecting 500 points a month waiting on an expansion to spend them on.

So, after having a few hours to educate myself and emotionally adjust to the announcements, the only thing that I’m upset about was this:

When does LOTRO F2P go live?

Free-to-Play will go live when Volume 3, Book 2 releases this fall.

No new content until this fall? When Book 1 came out I enjoyed the content but at the time I was expecting to see Book 2 within a few months, right around now actually. Now that I know there’s likely a six month gap? Book 1 feels pretty pitiful.

12 Comments

  1. I’m astounded, according to my reader, you and I posted about this topic within a minute of each other, with the same concern about community. I’m somewhat optimistic about how that will turn out…at worst, I think that things will get a little rowdy at the beginning but will subside once the players only there to cause trouble get bored and leave. I’m also thinking the community will be similar to that of DDO’s. I’ve never played that, but I’ve also only heard good things about its playerbase.

    • Oh, and I never thought about the impact Warner Bros. might have had on this. Obviously, by switching models they think it will bring in more revenue, so it’s hard not to imagine the actions of the higher-ups at work here.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      Great minds think alike!

  2. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    I think you have a good point about the potential for chat greifers. However, the community I’ve found in DDO is light years better than what you see in WoW or Allod’s Online. Hopefully things will end up much the same in LoTRO. I have to say that I won’t be logging much save my once a month to get free points over the summer, I’m pretty burned out on the current content.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I was on a bit of a break while I focused mostly on STO and then RDR, but I’ve been back in and working on my Warden alt recently. Beyond doing Kin events, I don’t see myself doing much with my hunter now that I know there’s going to be nothing new until the fall. For me it’s not even burnout really, I’m just not one for repeating stories without getting a lot of time between repetitions.

      That’s good news about the DDO chat, I’ve not spent more than a few hours in the game so my only frame of reference is Runes of Magic.

  3. […] Blue Kae: “First reaction? I have to say I was disappointed.” […]

  4. AnjinNo Gravatar says:

    The huge delay sounds an awful lot like the F2P beta for DDO. The community survived that okay, but it looked ugly for a while. If Turbine hits the ground running with content like they did in that game, I’m sure all will be forgiven.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I think the community has already been a little upset about the lack of new content, but now that we have a time frame things will probably settle for a few months. Six months though, that’s rough. Good thing I’m juggling 4 MMOs right now. :O

  5. LongascNo Gravatar says:

    Hm, already commented on Dusty Monks’ blog, would only repeat myself.

    My main point is that LOTRO is not set up like DDO, I think it is harder to sell content here in an about as reasonable way as in DDO. And if there is no reasonable way and more cash is desired, things will change and we will have to spend cash for not so reasonable things.

    Besides that, Lifetimers have no extra benefit from LOTRO going F2P, rather the opposite. And EU players got baited to buy a lifetime at a reduced rate one month before the F2P announcement. I call that fraud.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I agree that LotRO and DDO will need to handle content expansions differently because of how the worlds are laid out. I’m wondering if the fact that they were referring to things as Quest Packs is a hint. New landmasses would be available to everyone unless it’s accessed via a natural choke point like Moria and Mirkwood, but just because you have access to an area doesn’t mean you’d have access to the quests. Either the ring icons would be grey or maybe just not displayed at all. People could still grind, I suppose, but that would make for a fun game.

      I have to disagree about the lifetimers bit too. For us lifers, nothing changes except now we’re accumulating Turbine Points. Assuming there’s nothing in the store I care to buy, those points will just stack up. I have the impression that future expansions will be sold through the game’s store, and if that’s true I may end up spending less money (or no money) in the future than I do now. If I’m waiting three months for an updates, thats 1500 points, say a new expansion is 2000 points. I’m now only paying say $5 instead of $20, like I did for Mirkwood.

      • YeeboNo Gravatar says:

        On my blog I commented that I’d likely be a bit ticked if I had gone lifer recently, without expanding. To be sure, as it stands, I have gotten insane value out of my lifetime sub and am really looking forward to seeing what comes down the pipe. I think your example is a really good one. Those of us that have been lifers for a while are getting a really good deal. Free access to everything forever, plus free Turbine points that will pay for most future content? Sweet!

        However, the reason I say I’d likely be ticked if I had gone lifer recently (say last month) was that I would have committed to it without knowing there was soon to be a different option. My favorite way of buying lifetime content is piecemeal, ala Wizard 101 and DDO (both of which do FtP the “right” way imo). That way I only buy the content I care about, and don’t have to pay for things that I don’t think I’d use. If I were considering going lifer and knew that would be an option in three months, I’d likely hold off.

  6. NonpointNo Gravatar says:

    Wow… I take a couple months off from LOTRO and look what happens.

    My reaction at first was very similar to yours and most of the comments. After calming down I am more hopeful that all of this works out for the best. I was a lifer from the get-go. I am a huge LOTRO fan and was going to play the game no matter what.

    I’m trying to stay on the optimistic side and hope that this change will bring about more content… like things were back in the SoA days. I’ve been worried about the lack of content since SoM. Hopefully F2P will give Turbine the boost they need to give us the new content and fixes to the legendary system we all want.

    About the community… I’ve never been too worried about a huge influx of immature peeps. The saving grace of LOTRO is that it isn’t a PvP game. If chat and such gets too horrible the ignore command is your friend 😉 For me, I don’t think it’ll effect me much. Being careful about who you let into your kinship takes care of a lot. Of course I play mostly on Firefoot, which is a difficult server IMO anyhow. Maybe F2P will actually improve it lol!