No Cataclysm for LOTRO
If you were to pay any attention to the recent forum posts and in-game chat you could be forgiven for thinking that LOTRO going Free To Play may well be the death knell for the game.
But is it?
I interviewed Markan, Divisional Captain for LOTRO to get his perspective on this development
Pander Bear: There seems to be some disquiet that Turbine are introducing Free To Play because they aren’t making enough money from the game. What’s your take on the situation?
Markan: I suppose in one sense it’s true; you only need to look at what Blizzard are doing and it’s clear that they don’t think they are making enough money from World of Warcraft either! It seems very clear that this is a follow on from making a similar move with Dungeons and Dragons Online; DDO was a game that had hit a lull and the F2P move has hugely increased interest in that game and as a result increased Turbine’s revenue. In comparison LOTRO is in pretty good shape for players as witnessed by TOG having 2 large and active Guilds that have been running since launch. I can only assume that if Turbine witness even a portion of growth that they saw with DDO then they will be very happy indeed.
Pander Bear: Do we know what the main restrictions will be for the Free accounts?
Markan: The model that they are introducing means that a free account will have limitations on character slots, storage, wealth and access to quests. A player can then use the store to buy access to things like more storage, more character slots and quest packs for the higher level regions. They can get points to spend in the store by either in-game activity or using real world cash. In a sense F2P is a misnomer as it might be better described as an a la carte option that allows you to buy the bits of the game that you want.
It’s also useful to note the restrictions that won’t be placed on free accounts. They will have access to the full range of servers; which means that any TOG members interested in trying it out will have access to the existing TOG groups. It is also important to note that apart from some quest gated areas like Moria and Mirkwood free players will be able to travel across the whole world and see the sights.
A full comparison of the account types can be found here - F2P Comparison chart
If anyone is interested is interested in knowing more, Moza, one of the LOTRO Officers has started a blog on his experience with the F2P beta that you can find here.
Pander Bear: What will this mean for players with an active subscription?
Markan: As much as they want really. Monthly subscribers and Life-time players will get a points allowance that they can spend in the store so they can buy the inevitable range of cosmetic items or they can save up the allowance and use it buy any expansions that may be released in the future. That means that if you can resist the beer barrel backpack you may even save money in the long run!
Pander Bear: What affect will it have on the playing experience for exiting or returning players?
Markan: The most obvious difference is likely to a large influx of people in the starter zones again. They aren’t that quiet now, but based on the beta that Turbine have been running there is massive interest in trying LOTRO out. The one concern that people have is that it will have a negative effect on what is reputed to be the best player community in the MMO world. Having played in the beta and played some DDO I can say that I am not that worried; there is bound to be an increase in novice questions but I am confident that the mature responses that they will get from the LOTRO community will set a fine example.
Pander Bear: Finally, is the update just the transition to F2P?
Markan: Obviously that is the big change but there are a few others that are worth noting:
* DirectX 11 support which will further add to one of the most beautiful MMO worlds out there
* New raids that are not gated by radiance and so are ideal for players getting started with raiding
* Introduction of level scaling technology to the instances, which means a large increase in the end game variety for players
* A large new region
* And finally another chapter of the epic story that sees you supporting the Fellowship on their way to Mordor
Since DDO went F2P they have seen a large increase in the number of updates that they have had and I think that for LOTRO this only brightens the future.
Pander Bear: Thank you for your time; now go and make me a coffee!
Disclaimer. Pander Bear wishes it to be known that Markan is her husband and that she does not make a habit of ordering random members of TOG to make her hot beverages - although chance would be a fine thing.