Wednesday, June 9, 2010

LOTRO Goes Free To Play How Will This Affect The MMO World?







A major MMO, Lord of Rings Online, announced that it will be switching to free to play this fall. What does this mean? Well you can play the game for free but with many limited features. Some examples of these limitations include not being able to do certain quests unless you unlock them using turbine (the game's creator) points, being limited to carrying 5g at a time (this is still a lot in lotro as 1000s = 1g), and having a limited number of character slots.

This MMO going to free to play could have a big affect on the MMO world for several reasons:

  • There will be a huge increase of population for this mmorpg.
  • Other games may soon switch to the free to play method in order to keep on top.
  • With lotro going free to play there is the possibility that players from other popular MMOs may try lotro and like it more than their current game. Thus lotro may take some players from other MMOs.
  • Other MMOs may try to do something special for their players in order to combat this and stay on top.

Great, but just what is free to play? Well I'll try to explain it. Free to play is an awesome little scheme that lets you play the game for free but in order to advance you either have to buy points to spend in order to unlock the new features or buy them directly. Sometimes a player of a free to play MMO can end up spending much more per month than they would on a subscription based MMO.

So what does this mean for people with a current subscription? Well nothing really, they can keep paying and playing the game all the same. The only thing that will change is an increase in new players asking them questions.

More information can be found in the direct quote below from turbine:

Quote Originally Posted by lotro.com
Today is an important day for LOTRO: we’ve announced that this fall, LOTRO will begin offering a Free-to-Play option! Players will be able to download the game and adventure in Middle-earth for free. With Free-to-Play comes the addition of the LOTRO Store, where players will have immediate in-game access to a wide variety of special items, account services, and convenience items.

The best part is – as existing subscribers you’re automatically enrolled in our VIP program! As a VIP you’ll continue to get unlimited access to the game and all of the content you already enjoy, in addition to some extra perks! We know you’re curious how all of this will work and what it all means for you personally, so here are some handy links to all of the details:
Still have questions? Here’s a quick FAQ about the key points of LOTRO Free-to-Play:

Is this the same model you used with DDO?

It’s very similar in a large number of ways. The basic structure is the same with some changes made to support LOTRO’s different game world and wide-open environment. Customer levels, the LOTRO Store, and other aspects of LOTRO Free-to-Play are all very similar to those of Dungeons and Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™.

I already subscribe to LOTRO. Is there any benefit to staying a subscriber?

Of course! Once the game goes live you’ll keep all your current privileges, and also accrue 500 free Turbine Points per month to spend as you wish. We also have a set of Loyalty Reward Special Offers just for our veteran players – as long as you maintain your subscription in good standing you may be eligible for up to 3,000 points. If you stay active over the summer you will also earn an additional bonus of 500 Turbine Points per month until launch! For more details see the Loyalty Reward Special Offer Terms & Conditions for full details.

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 Turbine Points. Lifetime members may also qualify for a special one-time Loyalty Reward of 1,000 Turbine Points. See the Loyalty Reward Special Offer Terms & Conditions for full details.

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 and you can spend them at your leisure in the LOTRO Store. Founding members may also qualify for a special one-time Loyalty Reward of 500 Turbine Points. See the Loyalty Reward Special Offer Terms & Conditions for full details.

Will there be a Free-to-Play Beta and when will it start?

Yes! The Beta will start in the very near future. We’ll begin accepting signups immediately at LOTRO Goes Free to Play!!

I’m a new or returning player. How do I sign up for Beta?

Start by registering at www.lotro.com/betasignup. We’ll select entrants from that list once beta starts.

I’m an existing customer. How do I sign up for the Beta?

Existing subscribers do not need to register to apply for the beta – we’ll randomly invite subscribers who have been active in the last 30 days and have an account in good standing throughout the beta. If you wish to register at www.lotro.com/betasignup that will count as an extra entry and may increase your chance of being selected for participation.

Is there any way to increase my chance of getting into the beta?

Sure! Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! We’ll give out special beta entry codes to our fans via social media - so give yourself the best chance of getting in and make sure to keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Are we under NDA during the beta?

Yes. What happens in beta stays in beta! Once you receive your invitation and apply your beta key to your account, you will have access to the private beta forums. This is the only place to discuss anything you see or do in beta. Remember, the first rule of beta is you do not talk about beta!

What can I still talk about on the public forums?

Our NDA specifies that no materials related to the beta (including updates, gameplay or user interface) may be discussed or posted without Turbine's express permission. The NDA remains in effect whether you remain in the program, or the program ends.

When does LOTRO F2P go live?

Free-to-Play will go live when Volume 3, Book 2 releases this fall.

Is Free-to-Play the only thing to look forward to for Volume 3, Book2?

No! Volume 3, Book 2 will continue the Volume 3 Epic Story as the Rangers head south. An all new area, Enedwaith, will be available as well as some exciting new features and many updates to the game including DX11 support! We’ll have more information about Volume 3, Book 2 as we approach launch. Keep an eye out for Developer Diaries and other information throughout the summer!

I still have questions. Where can I ask them?

If you still have questions after reading the full FAQ, please use the LOTRO Free-to-Play discussion forum for questions and comments!

We’re very excited about LOTRO’s move to Free-to-Play and we can’t wait for you to see all the incredible changes the team has already made to the game. Make sure you read Executive Producer Kate Paiz’s letter to the community for some great information on where LOTRO is going!
I believe this could lead to some big changes in the ways people pay for MMOs, while currently a subscription based system is the most popular I think we could see new systems become the norm, especially in an economy like today's. While free to play might not become the new system everyone uses, although it defiantly could be, a new one might replace the current subscription based system such as buying hours of play time instead of paying by the month.

I think this system could cause some MMOs to lower their monthly charges or maybe even get some more to switch to it as it has already proven a success with other games, like turbine's DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online). Maybe we could even see WoW announcing this sometime. I also predict this will cause a huge increase of players in lotro and maybe decrease population in some other MMOs as more people try this game on free to play before actually buying it. While free to play sounds just like a free trial that lasts forever I think this system could rise above the others as a player can play what they want and just buy the features of the game they want. If they want to have all features but not end up paying a ton for them then they can just buy a $15 a month subscription from Turbine or a $15 60 day gamecard at Best Buy. I myself think this change is for the best, both for the MMO world and the lotro community.

Do you think this change would be for the best or worse to the MMO world? How do you think this will impact other games? What impact do you think this will have on the players and turbine's money?

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article, please post your comments and thoughts below!

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