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Lord of the Rings Online: Free to Play Interview

MikeBMikeB MMORPG.com Community ManagerQueens, NYPosts: 5,716Administrator Uncommon

MMORPG.com's Michael Bitton got a chance to catch up with Turbine's Executive Director of Communications Adam Mersky and LOTRO Executive Producer Kate Paiz to discuss today's big announcement that The Lord of the Rings Online would be re-launching as a hybrid Free-to-Play game.

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As I’m sure many of you read this morning, Turbine has announced that The Lord of the Rings Online will be going Free to Play. The F2P re-launch of LOTRO is set for this Fall in both North America and Europe (Codemasters will run the European version), and a beta test phase is set to begin in a little over a week on June 16th. Naturally, many of you have tons of questions about the dramatic shift, and we got a chance to catch up with Turbine’s Executive Director of Communications Adam Mersky as well as LOTRO Executive Producer (formerly Senior Producer on DDO) Kate Paiz to get you some answers.

I asked Kate about what went into making this decision for LOTRO, and she responded that one major factor was the runaway success of the re-launch of Dungeons & Dragons Online, which resulted in “a significant uplift In player participation, in interested in the title, and in activity community participation.” Turbine looked at that and basically decided that it was really a no brainer for LOTRO given all the aforementioned benefits, and of course, this change results in making the game much more accessible to many more players.

Read the full interview here.

Michael "MikeB" Bitton
Community Manager
Twitter: @eMikeB

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Comments

  • zeowyrmzeowyrm Bangor, MEPosts: 746Member

    The fact that Turbine points don't cross over is BS.  Asian publishers have had universal currency for the games under their respective umbrellas (a la gpotato) can't be too hard for Turbine to follow suit. 

  • AndraxxAndraxx Toronto, ONPosts: 234Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by zeowyrm



    The fact that Turbine points don't cross over is BS.  Asian publishers have had universal currency for the games under their respective umbrellas (a la gpotato) can't be too hard for Turbine to follow suit. 


     

    I see your point, but I understand their reasoning. Right now I have a lifetime sub to LOTRO, and I play DDO as a premium player. I haven't spent real cash on DDO since I came back, spending only some accrued points to unlock dungeons. If the points were universal, I could take my 500 a month from LOTRO and spend them in DDO to buy unlocks or hirelings or skill resets or whatever. It's pretty obvious the Lifetime sub option in LOTRO is negating a universal points system.

  • PhelimReaghPhelimReagh New York, NYPosts: 647Member Uncommon

    Whoa, that's interesting.

     

    Maybe I'll give LotRO another go again, since I have more than 14 days to see if I like it this time, lol.

  • RegomarRegomar North Branford, CTPosts: 122Member

    They just lost this current subscriber.  I dont play Pay to Win games.

  • alicornalicorn Ocala, FLPosts: 171Member Uncommon

    I just cancelled my LoTRO account.  I have had enough with the F2P titles and the quality of player it brings with it.  I'm sad they made this choice, but it's their business and they have every right to do it.

  • zeowyrmzeowyrm Bangor, MEPosts: 746Member

    Originally posted by Andraxx

    Originally posted by zeowyrm



    The fact that Turbine points don't cross over is BS.  Asian publishers have had universal currency for the games under their respective umbrellas (a la gpotato) can't be too hard for Turbine to follow suit. 


     

    I see your point, but I understand their reasoning. Right now I have a lifetime sub to LOTRO, and I play DDO as a premium player. I haven't spent real cash on DDO since I came back, spending only some accrued points to unlock dungeons. If the points were universal, I could take my 500 a month from LOTRO and spend them in DDO to buy unlocks or hirelings or skill resets or whatever. It's pretty obvious the Lifetime sub option in LOTRO is negating a universal points system.

    I suppose you're right.  Still leaves a bad taste in my mouth though.

  • MikeBMikeB MMORPG.com Community Manager Queens, NYPosts: 5,716Administrator Uncommon

    Originally posted by Regomar



    They just lost this current subscriber.  I dont play Pay to Win games.


     

    Did you read the interview? I asked them explicitly about the "Pay to Win" scenario, and it's part and parcel of their strategy to ensure that players are not able to "Pay to Win," this was made painfully clear by Turbine's Craig Alexander during our panel at PAX East as well.

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
    Community Manager
    Twitter: @eMikeB

  • NytakitoNytakito Westminster, COPosts: 381Member

    I'm just glad they made sure to take care of the life subs with this conversion.  I'm sure some will still complain, but the exemtption from charges for content and the c-store stipend seem like adequate compensation to me.

    "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse." - Henry Ford

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon

    The Turbine Points being separate between games is stupid.  Station Cash is good across any SoE game that has access to the Marketplace (my cash is good in Free Realms and EQ2 for example).  I can even buy game services with Station Cash.

     

    The other thing I think they're being disengenuous about what they're selling in the store.  Based on the comparison chart on the LotRO site VIPs will have access to the complete trait system while others can buy them.  Traits are core to the class functioning properly, so they are selling core class and game play functionality upgrades and not just fluff or content.

     

    I think they would have done the game world better by actually developing deep subsystems and offering a cash shop model similar to SoE's Marketplace where people could buy fluff, mounts, housing items, potions, and pets to make their adventures in Middle Earth more fun.

  • wh00chwh00ch Salem, MOPosts: 3Member

    This is a sad day for me. I have been a LotRO player from the days right after closed beta and have had a lifetime membership since that time. The fact that I am LIMITED to 500 points per month is TOTAL BS! I paid my rather large fee up front and expected that to be sufficient.

    I would rather have a COMPLETE refund and give Turbine/Warner Brothers a big one-fingered wave good-bye ..i.

  • zeowyrmzeowyrm Bangor, MEPosts: 746Member

    Originally posted by wh00ch

    This is a sad day for me. I have been a LotRO player from the days right after closed beta and have had a lifetime membership since that time. The fact that I am LIMITED to 500 points per month is TOTAL BS! I paid my rather large fee up front and expected that to be sufficient.

    I would rather have a COMPLETE refund and give Turbine/Warner Brothers a big one-fingered wave good-bye ..i.

    Ok, seriously, people need to learn to do some fucking RESEARCH

    You are not LIMITED to 500 pts.  You are GIVEN 500 pts.  You want to buy more?  Go ahead.

  • sushimeessushimees SauePosts: 489Member

    So the locked quests can only be bought? Can't they be earned with some kind of a different system like in DDO where you could open up new classes and quests by completing quests to get favor points?

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  • DarkholmeDarkholme Wolfeboro, NHPosts: 1,201Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Regomar



    They just lost this current subscriber.  I dont play Pay to Win games.

    For every one of you they will lose because you dont't read the whole article, and don't bother to look into how the F2P model has changed DDO (for the better), they will gain 10 more people... I know that I am super-excited about this and will be playing.

    -------------------------
    "Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places..." ~ H.P.Lovecraft, "From Beyond"

  • zeowyrmzeowyrm Bangor, MEPosts: 746Member

    Originally posted by sushimees

    So the locked quests can only be bought? Can't they be earned with some kind of a different system like in DDO where you could open up new classes and quests by completing quests to get favor points?

    Yes, you can.  Just like DDO.

  • rznkainrznkain Dugspur, VAPosts: 539Member

    My question is this what happens with the content alot of us already purchased such as mines of moria and mirkwood along with the other lil small adventure pack that gave shared bank and more char slots do we get to keep any of that or do we have to repurchase it again or go to a sub model?

     

    And I think ANYONE who has purchased these games and expansions should be given something considering we paid for this frickin software to begin with,What really p**ses alot off is the fact  turbine was lettin ppl buy lifetime subs again till really recent along with running there 9,99 special what about those ppl are they sol now that they bought the software or lifetime sub under a few weeks ago to have turbine pull this crap? I am really dissapointed that they did this not so much the f2p model but how they cashed grabbed off unknowing ppl right up to the minute.

  • zeowyrmzeowyrm Bangor, MEPosts: 746Member

    Originally posted by rznkain

    My question is this what happens with the content alot of us already purchased such as mines of moria and mirkwood along with the other lil small adventure pack that gave shared bank and more char slots do we get to keep any of that or do we have to repurchase it again or go to a sub model?

    http://www.lotro.com/news/709-announcing-the-lord-of-the-rings-onlines-move-to-free-to-play-

    All your questions are answered there.

  • MMO_DoubterMMO_Doubter Bedford, NSPosts: 5,056Member

    Originally posted by MikeB

    Did you read the interview? I asked them explicitly about the "Pay to Win" scenario, and it's part and parcel of their strategy to ensure that players are not able to "Pay to Win," this was made painfully clear by Turbine's Craig Alexander during our panel at PAX East as well.

    How many companies openly admit they are putting in 'pay to win'? Has any company ever admitted that?

    "" Voice acting isn't an RPG element....it's just a production value." - grumpymel2

  • rznkainrznkain Dugspur, VAPosts: 539Member

    Originally posted by zeowyrm

    Originally posted by rznkain

    My question is this what happens with the content alot of us already purchased such as mines of moria and mirkwood along with the other lil small adventure pack that gave shared bank and more char slots do we get to keep any of that or do we have to repurchase it again or go to a sub model?

    http://www.lotro.com/news/709-announcing-the-lord-of-the-rings-onlines-move-to-free-to-play-

    All your questions are answered there.

    Thanks zeowyrm I had looked at it earlier and could'nt find it for some reason.This I can deal with.

     

     

    * Purchasers of the Mines of Moria™ expansion get access to the Mines of Moria region and content, premium classes (Rune-Keeper and Warden), legendary items feature, Tier 6 crafting feature, 2 extra character slots and a level cap of 60. Purchasers of the Siege of Mirkwood™ expansion get access to the Siege of Mirkwood region and content, a level cap of 65 and the Siege of Mirkwood skirmishes.

    ** Purchasers of the LOTRO Adventurer's Pack get 2 extra character slots and 20 slots of shared bank storage across all characters on the same servers.

    n

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by MikeB

    Originally posted by Regomar



    They just lost this current subscriber.  I dont play Pay to Win games.


     

    Did you read the interview? I asked them explicitly about the "Pay to Win" scenario, and it's part and parcel of their strategy to ensure that players are not able to "Pay to Win," this was made painfully clear by Turbine's Craig Alexander during our panel at PAX East as well.

    The comparison chart (http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/vipchart.html) on their site does say that trait slots will be limited and can be purchased, gold cap is limited, storage is limited, destiny point usage is limited, and crafting guilds are limited.  These are all things you can buy that seriously affect the win.  There is more to buying the win or being gimped by no purchase than gear and stats on items.

     

    I think it's a gross oversimplification to say that since a game doesn't sell gear or stat items in the shop that they aren't making purchases that drastically affect the game play.  The way Turbine is setting this up is just that; seriously limiting game play without buying them.  There is a pretty big difference between Turbine's cash stores and the way EQ2 and WoW have set them up.  The stuff in those stores really isn't needed to play the game to its fullest.  Turbine's cash model is the opposite.

  • AthcearAthcear Washington, DCPosts: 420Member

    As much as Turbine might claim they're not going to go in the "Pay to Win" direction, I've never seen a F2P that didn't, and that includes DDO.  The biggest difference here is that LotRO is known for a higher calibur of difficulty and of player ability.  It has a larger distance to fall than DDO did.  Once again, proof that MMOs will no longer be made for serious players.  This move is likely the final nail in the coffin of serious raiding.

    Important facts:
    1. Free to Play games are poorly made.
    2. Casuals are not all idiots, but idiots call themselves casuals.
    3. Great solo and group content are not mutually exclusive, but they suffer when one is shoved into the mold of the other. The same is true of PvP and PvE.
    4. Community is more important than you think.

  • FeydawayFeydaway Brea, CAPosts: 122Member

    You paid $199.  If you joined when the game started, you've gotten over 3 years of play out of that.  If you paid it last year, you'll get over 18months out of that.  Plus, you are now going to continue to get the equivalent of $15/mo content for free.  That's MORE than fair compensation.  If free content and 500pts a month aren't enough (though, I can't imagine being able to use more) then I don't know what to tell you...

  • icehawkeicehawke Elgin, ILPosts: 52Member Common

    If you look at the content on the DDO store, I'd say there would be a lot of equivalent content on the Lotro store. Variations and exceptions will exist obviously. As the holder of two lifetime subs, I'm particularly looking forward to the ~5000 points I'll be getting when the f2p goes live. (1000 for lifetime, 500 per anniversary (1500), 500 for founder, and 500/month figuring Sept as launch). First thing I'm doing is buying up my shared bank to max.

    Also, I think this is a good opportunity for former players who've not played for whatever reason to come back with no expense. Paraphrasing a quote from the Lotro forums by a dev, "If you've spent money on lotro, you will be Premium as a minimum" So that right there gives past players a leg up from Johnny-come-lately who downloads it after the f2p launch.

  • alicornalicorn Ocala, FLPosts: 171Member Uncommon

    My concern, and why I cancelled, are not because I think Turbine is "the devil", they have a right to run their business as they choose.  As a veteran online gamer of some 15+ years I just don't aprticularly like the F2P crowd.  I'd rathe rpay a monthly fee and not have the quantity of rabble in the game.  That's just me and I choose to take my money elsewhere, I wish LoTRO the best because I love Lord of teh Rings.  I think turbine will make more money but I think the quality of the game, for the serious gamer, will take a nose-dive.  Just my opinion.

  • EsherdonEsherdon Andalusia, PAPosts: 43Member

    Crafting was barely holding on now it will be dead why pay a player  in game gold which is limited,  when I can use points.. especialy if I have a lifetime sub...

    "Onward to adventure".

  • FeydawayFeydaway Brea, CAPosts: 122Member

    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    Originally posted by MikeB

    Originally posted by Regomar



    They just lost this current subscriber.  I dont play Pay to Win games.


     

    Did you read the interview? I asked them explicitly about the "Pay to Win" scenario, and it's part and parcel of their strategy to ensure that players are not able to "Pay to Win," this was made painfully clear by Turbine's Craig Alexander during our panel at PAX East as well.

    The comparison chart (http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/vipchart.html) on their site does say that trait slots will be limited and can be purchased, gold cap is limited, storage is limited, destiny point usage is limited, and crafting guilds are limited.  These are all things you can buy that seriously affect the win.  There is more to buying the win or being gimped by no purchase than gear and stats on items.

     

    I think it's a gross oversimplification to say that since a game doesn't sell gear or stat items in the shop that they aren't making purchases that drastically affect the game play.  The way Turbine is setting this up is just that; seriously limiting game play without buying them.  There is a pretty big difference between Turbine's cash stores and the way EQ2 and WoW have set them up.  The stuff in those stores really isn't needed to play the game to its fullest.  Turbine's cash model is the opposite.


     

     I have to agree 100%.  Looking at that chart - I'm screwed unless I pay to play.  Destiny points?  I have 4k...you cannot spend them unless you pay.  Crafting guilds?  I'm fully crafting guild playable right now - something I EARNED through an honor/crafting grind.  I will be limited unless I pay.  Gold??  I have 20g right now.  Are they going to TAKE 18g away from me when this goes pay to play unless I pay real money to keep it?  Storage bags.  I have 4 bags in my vault - all full of items I've made and/or found.  Do I lose them if I don't pay to play?'

    "WIN" may be a subjective word in an MMORPG.  But, I'd say that if I have to pay real money to keep all those things - that is clearly 'pay to win' in my book.

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