LOTRO goes F2P : First Thoughts

Tilce | 10 February 2011 | 3 Comments


By Pander Bear

LOTRO goes F2P : first thoughts

revenue doubled in first 30 days with 1 million new accounts
LOTRO went F2P on 8 September 2010 in NA/Aus, and on 2 November for us poor Europeans after what appears to have been some contractual issues between Codemasters and Turbine. I thought though that this might be a good time to get some early thoughts on F2P and on the Enedwaith expansion. According to Turbine everything is good : revenue doubled in first 30 days; 1 million new accounts (Joystick website); F2P launch was bigger than the original launch back in 2007; and 20% of original subscribers who drifted away have returned. In Europe Codemasters have revealed that they have broken their all-time concurrency record.

But what do the people on the ground - new and existing TOG members - actually think now that they have had a chance to try it out for themselves?

Enedwaith

The first new feature is the addition of a large new region which moves the players further along the journey of the Ring towards it’s destination.

Player feedback here seems largely positive with appreciation of the more open feel of the area compared to the more recent additions of Moria and Mirkwood.

One player noted: “I like the reskinning of some of the mobs, and the overall feel of the zone. Giving the Dunlendings a new appearance instead of the same “human brigand” appearance that’s been everywhere since the Shire… that’s a nice addition.”

As ever with new content there is always the call for more but Enedwaith seems a really positive start.

Instances and Raids

There are no new instances but Turbine have refactored old instances and created 2x 3-man instances, 6x 6-man instances, 3x 12-man raids and a 24-man raid that scale across a level range and have low entry requirements. They have also made it possible to join an instance from anywhere in the game making it immeasureably easier to get a group together.

Some player obervations:
I also think the revised instances deserve a nod
“I also think the revised instances deserve a nod, too. It is, perhaps, not as exciting as a new instance, but updating some oft-skipped but enjoyable areas in the game (like the trio of formerly level 50 Anuminas instances, which have been a wasteland ever since Moria came out) was a nice touch.”

“And now being able to instantly teleport to any (level appropriate) instance in the game? A VERY nice addition, as it makes running instanced content much more painless, eliminating some of the administrative burden and getting people right to what they WANT to do. It does separate the instances from their surroundings a bit, which spoils the atmosphere a little, but that is a very small tradeoff.”

The Store
Aside from numerous objections from British players who (quite rightly) believe it should be called the “Shop” the feedback doesn’t seem as bad as might have been feared. There are links to it from various points in the UI but most of the players seem able to live with it and despite protests many people seem to have used it to add storage space at least to their characters.

“It’s around enough to bother me slightly, but for the most part I can ignore it. I think my frustration with it is mostly my curmudgeonly dislike of the feel of “pop up” advertising everywhere (when you die - Unlock Revives in the Store!; when you examine your virtues, get a Store icon to pay to rank the virtures!; on the character select screen, get a store button to unlock character slots AND a store button for general access!; every time you complete a deed, get a You Earned Points and Should Visit the Store! notification; ad infinitum)”

The Wardrobe

Turbine have added a mechanism that allows storage of purely cosmetic outfits and allows them to be used across the account. As expected the feedback from the more aesthetically focussed players has been great! And for the less well dressed being able to store your pirate hat without using real bank space is always appreciated.

Scripting
For the first time Turbine have opened the UI to LUA scripts and this has created a burgeoning industry in creating plugins to show things like health bars and buffs/de-buffs in more graphical ways. There are those that don’t see the need for them, but plenty are enjoying the opportunity for more customisation of the interface

“It’s worth giving a shout out to the Beta implementation of limited Lua scripting for addons, which have some really interesting features. A friend of mine who bought into LOTRO but hasn’t played in a while heard about this, and immediately asked if there was a way to better see what buffs/effects you have on you, with a timer to help see when they expire. I was glad to point him towards BuffBars.”

Layering
Turbine seem to acknowledge that there is still work to be done here so that future will hopefully see this improved.
Turbine have added the ability to create multiple instances of busy zones, similar to that seen in games like AoC and CO. Feedback here is not so positive and it is seen as at best a necessary evil. Lag has certainly improved in busy areas, but it does reduce the atmosphere when you can’t see all of the passers by.

“I also think the dynamic layering leaves something to be desired. I understand and appreciate the need for it, but sometimes it seems to kick on way too early, and it’s a bother for trying to do large, non-grouped events.”

Turbine seem to acknowledge that there is still work to be done here so that future will hopefully see this improved.

The Future
After some lean months for content we are expecting an update in November that makes quite a few changes. Turbine have also confirmed that they are looking at the next instance cluster although no date has been given. Hopefully this is a good sign for the future and shows that Turbine seems to be re-investing its additional revenue

Summary
Overall the view is pretty positive. It would not be an MMO without some unhappiness at each change but the direction seems good, the additional interest in what was already one for the most successful MMOs of recent years is great to see. To cap it all we seems to be facing a future of more regular updates - things look pretty good!

3 Comments so far | Post a comment

A friend of mine joked that F2P is based on the drug dealer philosophy of giving people “free” samples so they get hooked.  Yeah, you can download the game and start a character and you don’t have to subscribe.  But you’ll hit the ceiling pretty quickly, and then it’s not free to play, it’s pay as you go.

It’s even costing me more, and I’m a subscriber.  Twice I’ve purchased Turbine points (for real money) so I could skip some grinding on my alts and get their virtues and traits up a bit.  I’ve even spent Turbine Points on cosmetics, which led my wife to ask who am I and what have I done to her husband.

But this does not constitute a complaint. Not even a whine.  I love this game, and the changes for players like me have been pretty much all positive.  Nobody forced me to buy that bandana for my Guardian, after all.  And my kinship has grown quite a bit with F2P players deciding they want to buy the whole loaf and start subscribing.

It’s all good.

I think there are links to it from various points in the UI but most of the players seem able to live with it and despite protests many people seem to have used it to add storage space at least to their characters. I would like to say thanks for sharing such a nice article.
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I think it makes running instanced content much more painless, eliminating some of the administrative burden and getting people right to what they WANT to do. It does separate the instances from their surroundings a bit, which spoils the atmosphere a little, but that is a very small tradeoff. You did work very well. Keep it up.
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