The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling!

Turbine announced today That The Lord of the Rings Online would be going Free to Play by this fall. Now, there’s a lot of posts out there about this news already, and you can read everyone else’ opinions on it for the next little while no doubt. There are good points, bad points, and all the ones in between. Personally here’s my stand on the matter.

I’m excited about it. Why? Well, for a few reasons. Number one would have to be: yes, I do have an active LotRO subscription but I very rarely ever get to play, and I really don’t feel as though I get my moneys worth of play time out of the $15 I spend every month. In fact once my billing cycle was up I had made plans to cancel the account until I felt that I had the time to dedicate to it. I own all of the expansions, and don’t even have a level 30 character yet. I love the game, but the amount of time I have just doesn’t match up.

Going free to play allows me to drop the subscription and pay when I have the time to play, and when I reach the content I want to access. I don’t even consider this model exactly ‘free’ to play, because there’s still a subscription for those who pay monthly, and you’ll have to pay to access content and other goodies (don’t know all of the details yet as this is still a ways off) and those who have life time accounts will also gain a bonus. You can read all the details on the lotRO web site. I enjoy tripple A titles going F2P – although I realize the name has a LOT of bad connotation along with it (lower game quality, etc) I have heard that the model has worked for DDO, and I am anxious to see how it pans out for LotRO. Obviously a decision like this was NOT made lightly, and I trust the company to do the right thing for them. Notice that I said for them, and not for me. Despite what we all like to think, companies have to look out for themselves first. It’s just the way they function.

I’m looking forward to being able to spending a few hours here and there in game instead of trying to think of a way to warrant spending $15 for an entire month. I think that in this gaming age with so many people all over the place and playing multiple games, having optional payment methods is a huge deal. How many of us actually play just one game any more? Moving to a free to play model is going to allow me to actually play the game more then I currently do, and that excites me without having to worry about stressing over the cost.

I realize this is not true for everyone, and I know everyone else has their own views, but for now, I’m happy. Whether or not this actually works for turbine will still have to be seen, but until it goes live I don’t quite understand why there are some out there hoping it fails before it even gets off the ground.

5 Responses to The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling!

  1. stargrace says:

    @Anakh – nothing is ever really “free” especially in games, so I don’t really mind how limited the free-to-play accounts are. It doesn’t affect me personally, as I’ve already purchased all of the latest expansions and it clearly states that you won’t be losing anything that you’ve already got. If you want more content you should have to pay for more content, “free” is supposed to entice people to do that. The main goal of any company is still to make money. The only time I’d have an issue with it, is if it became more then the $15/m that people are already paying for a subscription.

  2. Anakh says:

    The thing that leaps out at me about this change is how limited those free-to-play accounts (and even the premium accounts) are compared to the full VIP package. They have clearly set this up to make sure people pay up for the kind of things that used to be considered just part of playing the game. I understand a lot of people want to play the game for free, but how happy will they be when they see that they are limited to one character per server (unless they pay for more,) are only allowed 3 bags for inventory instead of the current 5 (unless they pay for more,) are only allowed to have 2 gold in total wealth (unless they pay to have the cap lifted,) are heavily limited in how many traits they can have (unless they pay for more) and don’t get rested experience like every character gets now. You can’t even use the wardrobe feature or get customer service unless you bump up to a higher (paid) tier!

  3. Olphas says:

    I’m looking forward to it! I played LOTRO for 4 months when it came out, and I loved it. It just gave you not enough to do, once you’ve reached lvl50.
    I always thought it would be nice to drop in just every now and then. I really love the way they re-created Middle-Earth, which I know very well for 27 years now, and I had a wonderful time just walking through the shire or sitting at Lake Evendim. But it was just not enough to keep me paying 14€/month.
    When LOTRO goes free to play, I can drop in whenever I feel like it. :D
    And to be honest: I never played any F2P-MMO before. Is it really that bad? When I read the headline, I thought people would be happy. But everywhere I looked, everybody was like “Nooooo! The Community is dead!”.
    Anyway, looking forward to my next visit to Bree!

  4. Kasul says:

    It’s a problem of perception I think. People tend to equate F2P with ‘unscruplulous asian-style MMO’ and that colors your opinion of it. In those games, they design it to be so grindy that people would prefer to pay for levels and items. The F2P is in name only, as ‘playing’ the game without paying is not fun.

    Turbine hasn’t done that with DDO. That is a full MMO, that allows a few premium races and classes and content to be unlocked for a cost. You can play the game for days, level a character and see lots of places and not pay a cent. But, if you enjoy the game and wish to see more, then vote with your dollars and you can. The game is enjoyable with or without expense.

    We need to make a new classification I think. Something to separate the Asian F2P games from games like DDO, Wizard 101 and LotRO. Any ideas?

  5. Very well said! Giving players like yourself flexibility in subscription options should serve to attract many people to the game who wouldn’t be able to play otherwise. More players = game keeps going. Good thing IMO.

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