The move will follow the model established by Turbine’s successful relaunch of Dungeons & Dragons Online in the US last year, with a large chunk of the game available for free and extra content, items, features and services on sale via an in-game store.
Alternatively, you’ll be able to pay a VIP subscription for unlimited access to premium content.
European LOTRO operator Codemasters Online is on board with the change and the new service will launch in autumn across North America and Europe. (Codemasters still operates DDO as a traditional subscription game in Europe.)
You’ll be able to play up to level 50 - the level cap of the original version of the game, Shadows of Angmar - for free. In the LOTRO Store, you will be able to purchase “convenience items”, expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions and character customisation options.
The VIP offering will grant unlimited access to all premium content, priority server access, five character slots, a shared bank slot and a monthly stipend of points to spend in the LOTRO store “for one low price”. The price is yet to be revealed.
Interesting move. I thought LOTRO was one of the games doing rather well. Is free to play really better than subscription based in that case?
Also, any info on what this means for those with lifetime accounts? The website is kinda vague on that? I certainly hope it doesn’t mean us having to pay any subscription to be VIP. But I guess it doesn’t.
Ah, the basic FAQ answers my question on lifetime memberships (I checked the subscriber one first. Doh!):
I have a lifetime subscription to LOTRO. What will Free-to-Play mean for me?
As a lifetime subscriber to LOTRO, you will keep all of your membership privileges and are automatically upgraded to VIP status. You will receive 500 Free Turbine Points every month like the other VIPs, but you do not have to pay a monthly fee since you are a lifetime member. All you have to do is keep playing the game and visit the LOTRO Store to spend your free points and enjoy the wealth of new a la carte items and options to enhance your game experience.
I am a LOTRO Founder. What will Free-to-Play mean for me?
As a LOTRO Founder, you automatically become a VIP and will keep all of your membership privileges as long as you pay your monthly fee. You will automatically receive 500 Free Turbine Points every month like the other VIPs, and you can spend the Turbine Points at your leisure in the LOTRO Store to enhance your game experience and keep playing the way you want.
And char slots are left intact too:
I purchased the Adventurer’s Pack or got the Adventurer’s Pack for free when I pre-ordered the Siege of Mirkwood™ expansion. What will happen to my 2 extra character slots and shared storage bank with Free-to-Play? Will I lose anything if I unsubscribe?
The benefits and features of the Adventurer’s Pack will remain available to you. Whether you are a VIP, Premium player, or Free player, you will get to keep your 2 extra character slots and shared storage bank.
If you have not purchased the Adventurer’s Pack and you want to extend the number of character slots you have (max. of 11 per server) or you want to get more shared storage slots, just visit the LOTRO Store to purchase the items you need as you need them.
We do, however, get to spend money / points to get more shared bank slots (which I can always use).
Fair enough. And I’m not complaining as I got my and my wife’s lifetime accounts early on after release. So I easily got my money’s worth out of them and will keep doing so. People who got theirs more recently might or might not feel the same though.
I find the “subscription is dead” comment interesting. I’ve been in MMO’s since EQ so monthly subscriptions (fortunately not pay per minute) have been the natural way to play MMO’s for me. I need to adjust to all that free to play content. :)
At the time where newspapers are trying to retreat behind pay walls, MMO’s want us to play for free forever, my lord. The times are a changing. Not sure subscription is permanently dead though. But lifetime subscriptions (I could have used one in EQ. Would have saved me lots of subscription cash) are certainly not going to stay a feature if that’s the way we’re going.
Subscription made a lot of sense when there were a handful of MMOs on the market, especially when UO and EQ were very, very different. Most people typically played one or the other.
These days when there are hundreds of MMOs to choose from, a subscription doesn’t make sense. I complain about it frequently to friends… there’s a lot of MMOs I would try and play occasionally, but the monthly subscription fee steers me away. I already play an MMO, and I’m happy to pay my sub to the primary one, but I’d go visit places like LOTRO or Conan if I could just drop money on an expansion pack and play casually.
Well, notice it is a hybrid model. Subs, lifetimers and free players.
I can’t share numbers, but think of this:
DDO- last year on deaths door.
Subscription base goes UP (huh?)
becomes profitable-very profitable( 4 year old game suddenly makes money? wha? And it was not a hiccup?)
Now- 6 updates a year, 2 new servers added…
This is bad for the game and community? I think not.
In this day and age that there are more dying MMO’s than living ones–what can I say, we tried this model, it worked on our lesser title, so…logic dictates…
I also think it’s smart to get in early on this experiment. Once a lot of games figure out the free to play model, I feel like Turbine’s MMOs might return to the larger wash so to speak.
edit: and I also think it’s smart to basically do this with the original game’s first 50 levels. The hardcore paying audience was probably very much done with that except for alts. This might get new people into the fold a lot easier.
I have to say, I’m intrigued. A FTP LOTRO will get me playing some, and while I have no plans now to pay any money for extras, who knows? It’s a nice game world, just one that wasn’t worth a monthly fee for me in the absence of real PvP. But FTP? Sure thing.
And really, one great way to get rid of gold farmers et all is for the companies to take over the business themselves, as it were. Want to trade money for time? Give Turbine (or EA or whomever) your bucks rather than IGE. If the same services are open to all, and the game is FTP (thus allowing you to spend, if you wish, that same $15/month you’d normally spend on a subscription on, say, items or currency or whatnot), a relatively even playing field is maintained I think.
Personally, I think the term “Free to Play” really doesn’t apply to these MMOs anymore, because while technically correct in that you can play some parts of it free, a better term would be “Pay What You Want” or “A La Carte”.
As a person who likes to try everything and hates having to cancel and resub every time I get an itch to play, I’m happy with the direction things appear to be going.
They’re not selling gold in the Turbine Store, though.
I’m glad Turbine is doing well, and I’m having a lot of fun with DDO. Still waiting for these profits to improve the game, though. The UI is horrid. And with F2P, I’ve run across more 10-year-olds in six months than I did in five years of WoW. You know how annoying it is listening to a 10-year-old on voice chat who won’t shut up? And because the UI is so bad, you can’t even mute them.
In addition, as a VIP I receive 500 points a month. However, there’s no record of that. And Turbine has screwed up in the past by not awarding me my monthly 500. The Turbine Store keeps track of my purchases… but not points coming in.
I really hope this works out for you, Solomon. I have a LOTRO box but I’ve never really played it. This has definitely given me the impetus to go try it out, and if I like it I’ll be dropping some cash here and there :)