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Lord of the Rings Role Playing (Games) Games

Lord of the Rings Online To Go Free-To-Play 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the has-a-nice-one-ring-to-it dept.
darkwing_bmf sends word of Turbine's announcement that Lord of the Rings Online will become a free-to-play game this fall. 'The move is another validation of the free-to-play business model, where gamers can play for free and pay real money for virtual goods such as better weapons or decorative gear for their game characters. The business model has been popular in Asia but only recently took off in the US. This move shows the pressure is building on game publishers to shift to the new business model or face declining audiences.' According to a post on the official website, LotRO's micro-transaction system will be "very similar" to how Turbine's DDO store works, and current subscribers will maintain all of their privileges.
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Lord of the Rings Online To Go Free-To-Play

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  • Validation? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I think it would only be validation if it makes money. Let's wait until we see release/subscription rates a few months down the line.

    • by Rhys (96510)

      According to Turbine, it has done great things for DDO. I'd have to at least partially agree with them -- in the short term (6 months since release) I have seen plenty of noob characters running around.

      After all, RuneScape (also free to play) has been terribly unsuccessful. Oh wait... #2 in accounts after WoW. Now they don't all pay $15/month like WoW but still, even if 5% of them pay $5 a month that's around $3mil/year. I wouldn't cry if I put out a silly little game with around two or three people origina

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Yeah, and this has worked SO well for DDO. Turbine wants to follow the Zynga model, but hopefully their users are smart enough not to willingly trade their private info to advertising networks for "virtual points"...

      • by lgw (121541)

        Didn't Turbine back off of that a couple of hours after trying it and apologize for the whole thing?

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          They did, but I think it was more like a couple of days.

          And as they say with the Internet and privacy, "you can't take the pee out of the pool..."

  • If the free to play model was so great, why does it always happen to the always-ran MMOs?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DrXym (126579)
      I need to proof read - s/always ran/also-ran/g.
    • by Jeng (926980) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:45PM (#32463500)

      Cause if you can charge, you will.

      Much like Everquest ( yes it is still around ), they charge a monthly fee, but you can also purchase ornaments and other items that don't majorly change the game dynamics. It's not like you can buy a sword of awesome +5, just something that makes your sword look more awesome.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:57PM (#32463648)

        Much like Everquest ( yes it is still around ), they charge a monthly fee, but you can also purchase ornaments and other items that don't majorly change the game dynamics. It's not like you can buy a sword of awesome +5, just something that makes your sword look more awesome.

        If it was just ornaments I wouldn't ever have objected. I do find it offensive that they do affect the game dynamics, its enough that one can feel compelled to use them for the extra edge.

        • If it was just ornaments I wouldn't ever have objected. I do find it offensive that they do affect the game dynamics, its enough that one can feel compelled to use them for the extra edge.

          I, for one, welcome our noob Sword-of-a-Thousand-Truths-wielding overlords. And I would like to remind them that, as a trusted leader in my fellowship, I can be useful in rounding up others to farm mad loots for them in the Mines of Moria.

        • And here's the other issue: for your non-paying user to gain those items, or items of equal power, the structure typically requires that user spend a prohibitive number of hours grinding menial tasks.

          So either you waste your money on virtual merchandise to stand a fighting chance or you waste every bit of your free time not having fun in order to (theoretically) make the game fun.

          Fuck MMOs.

          • by gknoy (899301)

            Exactly.

            I pay a monthly fee to play WoW. I like that I don't need to "buy" items to be competetive. However, I could understand the appeal of being able to buy a level 80 character (with absolutely minimal gear), in order to save me the several days of playtime (and months of actual calendar time) to level Yet Another Character.

            Similarly, I wouldn't mind being able to buy a "starter" set of gear for raids or dungeons, which I normally would need to spend a month or so grinding instances and questing to get

            • by lgw (121541)

              Turbine did a great job with their cash shop - there's helpful stuff there to be sure, but there's nothing that will bypass the level up process (well, you can skip to level 4 of 20, but you can earn that without buying it as well), no top-tier or even mid-tier gear, and nothing really helpful on raids (or at least nothing I've actually seen used). Mostly the model is you can subscibe, or buy access to each dungeon separately (with a few for free). I played for some time, and never had any sense that I ne

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Is raiding with others the feature that makes MMO enjoyable or is it bound to personalities. I've tried DDO but I have to tell you, that playing the same game over and over again just drives me around the twist and seems more like work rather than play.

              I do enjoy computer games but the most fun I get is from learning new ones, new game styles and, new game formats. Sport was much the same, interesting to learn but no way in hell was I going to repeat the same activity over and over and over again.

              So ar

          • by Bakkster (1529253)

            So either you waste your money on virtual merchandise to stand a fighting chance or you waste every bit of your free time not having fun in order to (theoretically) make the game fun.

            How is this any worse than the standard MMO where paying isn't optional, and you still need to grind? In most MMOs, there's just a gray market where the people with (real) money pay to get ahead anyway.

          • by vux984 (928602)

            And here's the other issue: for your non-paying user to gain those items, or items of equal power, the structure typically requires that user spend a prohibitive number of hours grinding menial tasks.

            That's not an 'issue'. That's the game. You are supposed to enjoy the menial "tasks" to get the items of power that enable you to do the same set of menial tasks against high level critters. If you don't enjoy play the game ... play something else.

            or you waste every bit of your free time not having fun in order

            • by Trahloc (842734)
              True, but some people would rather spend $30 and find that out today than spend $15/mo for 6 months to find that out later. Although I do disagree with you. A raid is MUCH more fun than a quest to kill the 8 pigs attacking xyz farm.
              • by vux984 (928602)

                True, but some people would rather spend $30 and find that out today than spend $15/mo for 6 months to find that out later.

                And I'm saving both groups the trouble by spelling it out, now.

                Although I do disagree with you. A raid is MUCH more fun than a quest to kill the 8 pigs attacking xyz farm.

                Their are low level instances in WOW for example that were just as much fun to do as a raid, if you ask me. Not many of them compared to the endgame... but i had to actually try hard to avoid levelling past them to fit

                • by Trahloc (842734)
                  True, there are quite a few instances at lower levels that are fun. But when all your friends are level 60/70/80 some of us would rather hang out with them instead of random pugs. While its true you could ask one of them to power level you they may or may not have the time/interest. Plus its not the same as being an integral part of the team instead of some barnacle.
                  • by takev (214836)
                    The level imbalance is a problem with the game, it indeed breaks the social interaction.

                    I started my MMO life with EVE Online, and as a low level character (even first day in on a trial account) you can be useful along side individuals that have played for years. I have seen this in many parts of the game:
                    - If you mine astroids you still add profit to the group, or you make yourself more useful by finding good spots to mine.
                    - If you are in a high level mission you can kill the frigates which are extremely d
                    • by Trahloc (842734)
                      Hmm, perhaps someday when I have the time to play MMOs again I'll give EVE a chance.
      • by Lost Engineer (459920) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:51PM (#32464296)

        I suppose everything is an also-ran compared to WoW, but LotRO seemed to be doing just fine while charging a fee last time I played...

        • by secolactico (519805) on Friday June 04, 2010 @08:06PM (#32465626) Journal

          Depends on where you played. There are times when you feel there's almost no one else logged on. You could possibly have entire zones for yourself in the less populated servers.

          I hope this move increases server population. This is a fun game (not groundbreaking, tho) even if you are not a Tolkien fan.

          • Depends on where you played. There are times when you feel there's almost no one else logged on. You could possibly have entire zones for yourself in the less populated servers.

            This actually isn't all that uncommon with WoW, either.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Not necessarily a rule... [wikipedia.org] (and this game has sometimes scary hold on one group in the place I live). Many other examples, I'm sure; just different markets / perhaps in the end this method might become big also at your place?

    • Validating what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by twoallbeefpatties (615632) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:35PM (#32464096)
      If the free to play model was so great, why does it always happen to the always-ran MMOs?

      Is that a fault of the games themselves, or of the traditional pay-per-month MMO model? There's a lot of different games out there for people to play. For a game to demand that people pay money into every month for the privilege of not going off and playing Red Dead Redemption instead for a one-time price (or insert other recent popular title here), that game has to be not just good but great. Would you willingly pay $10-$15 a month to stay in a game that only got an 8.0 average on metacritic? Having also seen the moderate success of League of Legends, I'm thinking we might just be seeing a trend that what works for Everquest might not work for everyone.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        For a game to demand that people pay money into every month for the privilege of not going off and playing Red Dead Redemption instead for a one-time price (or insert other recent popular title here), that game has to be not just good but great.

        I agree. I've played a number of MMOGs in the past and while I'd quite like to continue some of them on a casual basis, I'm not paying $15 a month for each of six different games that I might play for 2-3 hours a week.

        There are just too many MMOGs now as everyone jumped on the monthly subscription bandwagon over the last few years, and few people are willing to pay a subscription to more than one or two. If I can play for free and buy expansions now and again then I'm far more likely to play another online

    • by drsquare (530038)

      If the free to play model was so great, why does it always happen to the always-ran MMOs?

      Necessity is the mother of invention.

  • I'm interested (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:42PM (#32463464) Journal

    I mean, I felt obligated to stick with WoW since I was paying for a subscription. And I've wanted to get back into an MMO (I've played Eve for a little while) but I've just come to realize that they aren't worth monthly subscriptions to me, I'm too on and off when it comes to games.

    However, there aren't many games that have the same social aspect of MMO's but also fun gameplay. I wanted to get into guild war years ago and stop playing WoW because GW was free, but my friends would have none of it. Now (of the 12 or so in our local city clique) 9 of us don't play WoW anymore, and don't want to play WoW anymore, but wish for the good ol' days of dungeon crawling with mountain Dew.

    I'll see if I can get them to jump on board with this.

    Does anyone know if that includes expansions, like Mines of Moria?

    • by sznupi (719324)

      ...wish for the good ol' days of dungeon crawling with mountain Dew

      All the while D2, and many other dungeon crawlers are available, with enough variants to find something for everybody? (one game with a mandatory companion in the form of dwarf eating perks and shitting gold was especially amusing)

      BTW, subscriptions are likely the key here; once something gets such a strong hold as WoW, people possibly aren't very willing to "invest" in anything else...

  • by migla (1099771) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:45PM (#32463490)

    Fuck that shit. I don't want to escape the real world run by the rich to a virtual fantasy world where a realworld rich person can just buy a BMFG and pwn me.

    • by dward90 (1813520) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:50PM (#32463560)
      This has always been the primary issue with microtransactions, and I've personally never been a fan of them either. The problem is that the investment required to develop, and more importantly maintain, quality MMOs necessitates making some money off them. Unless your game is out-of-the-box good enough to warrant thousands or millions of players paying subscription fees, microtansactions are the best known alternative as a profitable business model.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rcuhljr (1132713)
        Turbine runs the free to play D&D:O. Paying didn't offer any real huge advantages, other then time saving. The concerns about 'omg they'll buy the sword of truths!' are overstated amongst western MMO's. There are games where that's a real problem, but it's not by any means a guarantee.
        • by Psaakyrn (838406)

          Not exactly true. Some classes and races can only be obtained by paying.

          Fine, only 1 of each, but there's a reason why Monks are the most common splash class, and Warforged sorcerers/wizards are considered overpowered compared to sorcerers/wizards of any other race.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Advertising also works.

        Mark Zuckerberg doesn't charge for the game he calls "Facebook", and he recently said he has no intention of taking it public.

        That means he's making bank off the ad revenues and feels no need to share his profit stream with anyone just to get some cash.

        See also Pogo.com, which offers nearly everything for free in the default, ad-sponsored model, but allows you to pay a monthly fee to turn off the ads and get access to baubles that don't have any effect on play.

    • by tattood (855883) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:08PM (#32463784)
      From the free-to-play FAQ [lotro.com]:

      Q: Will I still be able to play and enjoy the game without buying items from the LOTRO Store, or is that my only option for gaining weapons, armor, potions, and other goodies such as premium loot?

      A: The purchase of items in the LOTRO Store is entirely optional. While items in the Store are designed to immediately enhance your in-game experience, premium loot and rare gear are the rewards of adventure and are only obtainable through gameplay.

      So no, a real-world "rich person" (as if rich people play online games) will not be able to gain an edge and pwn you.
      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by migla (1099771)

        It's relative. If I have a club and can't afford to buy a regular longsword (if they'd be available) and you would be rich enough (relative to me), you could beat me just because you'd be "rich" (provided that there is PvP in this game).

        • by Pharmboy (216950) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:34PM (#32464066) Journal

          If I have a club and can't afford to buy a regular longsword .. and you would be rich enough .., you could beat me just because you'd be "rich"

          Then again, in an old fashioned game, you might get pwned because the other person has more skilz, but you still play even though you aren't the best player on the block. This is just another metric. Keep in mind that people that rely on spending money to buy bigger guns are generally NOT going to be the best players. There are exceptions, yes, but just like with cheaters, they will be below average players on average.

          I get your concerns, but how fucked up it is depends on what you can buy and what you must find instead. Time will tell, and best of all, if you don't like the game, it cost you exactly zero. If the system is *THAT* fucked up, then only 'rich' people will be playing anyway. Personally, I'm glad to see someone trying something new in games, besides more and more restrictive DRM, that is.

          • by Sethumme (1313479)
            The disparity of skills is a reoccurring issue in games that cater to both casual and hardcore gamers. Not only do hardcore gamers have the advantage of having spent more time earning those leet rewards, but have also honed their skills more in that time. In games were skill matters and there is no way to segregate the skilled from the less-skilled (e.g., ranked games), people complain. It really is no different than complaining about paying for better gear. "I have to work and don't have time to commit
            • by Pharmboy (216950)

              It would seem to me that in a game like this, people who work 8 hours a day would have an advantage over people who don't, ie: money to spend to buy better weapons. Maybe in the end, it will balance out, who knows.

              • by hitmark (640295)

                thats just it, i have never seen a game where one actually can buy better weapons that can be found in the loot drops.

                they will sell you things like riding beasts that can up your over land movement speed (or teleport stones that can bring you to various places more quickly) but never something that will affect the game balance so that you must pay to make it to the top.

                what they do is they set the consumables and distances between quest start and finish so that if you want to level quickly you will want he

        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          It's relative. If I have a club and can't afford to buy a regular longsword (if they'd be available) and you would be rich enough (relative to me), you could beat me just because you'd be "rich" (provided that there is PvP in this game).

          If you don't pay, you wouldn't win the fight anyway, because you wouldn't have a character in the first place.

          As long as there are diminishing returns to the investment for the super-rich (everyone can reach a roughly level playing field for something near normal monthly rates, with increased power being either unobtainable with cash, or far more expensive than what the rest pay) to prevent someone dumping 10x the $$$ in and becoming 10x more powerful, there really isn't a significant balance issue. If 10

          • by hitmark (640295)

            it will be that they can dump money on it to become powerful faster, but ultimately either way will get the same top tier stuff.

            its just a question of what you have most available to you, money or time.

    • Well if it means anything, all PVP is completely voluntary in DDO, most of what you can pay for, is either time saving items (exp percentage bonuses) or content and the fact that every dungeon is instanced means you can simply play how and with whom you please.
    • by zero_out (1705074) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:13PM (#32463840)

      Except that this is far from the case in LOTRO. You can buy access to things like character slots, unlock the ability to carry more money (5 gold limit is extremely small), and yes, buy some gear. The difference is that the gear is nice, but not nearly as nice as the stuff you get from dungeon instances or raids. Besides, LOTRO doesn't have PVP. It has PVMP, which means that you can either play on the side of the Free Peoples (human/elf/hobbit/dwarf) OR the side of the creeps (warg/uruk/orc/spider). Creeps don't get gear, are always max level, and can't leave the one specific PVMP zone.

      On top of all this, having more money than me doesn't mean anything if we're both pay-subscribers. The ceiling that you can pay is $15/month, as it has been for 3 years. You can't spend $50 to get something better than me, who pays $15/month (if I wasn't a lifer). All this does is add a lower-class player to the already existing middle-class (everyone else ATM). It doesn't add a rich-class who can spend wads of cash to be better than someone who only pays $15/month. And again, even if it did, there is no PVP, so the rich-class can't pwn the middle-class.

    • by unity100 (970058) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:45PM (#32464204) Homepage Journal
      Lotro is not a game that people can wtfown you. its a game, like, lotr itself. its more about tales and adventures than bambinos owning each other.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      And real-world rich people don't want to get fragged by fake-world otaku who have built up a stash of every possible collectible item and power.

      Between these extremes lies the essence of successful (and profitable) game design.

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        I was going to say pretty much exactly that, minus the word otaku of course. It's a money vs time thing: if I don't have money, I may be able to put in the time to better my character; if I don't have time, I should be able to better my character through money.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      Except that Turbine is not doing this. They have explicitly said you will not be able to just buy better gear at high levels. They may, and are only considering, a starter kit for new players that would have some good gear. They have also also said that they do not want to stomp on the toes of crafting in anyway either. This is the case in DDO so far. The examples of stuff listed for purchase by subscribers are reasonably innocuous; cosmetic outfits, extra storage space, extra character slots, etc. Wh
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      The alternative is a game where everyone pays, so you're paying but not getting an edge. Your other choice is to not play anything. Wow, having a choice really sucks! Fuck that shit!
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:48PM (#32463534) Homepage

    So how much is a ring?

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday June 04, 2010 @04:48PM (#32463536)

    I'm half surprised that Mythic/EA doesn't do this with Warhammer Online.

    Warhammer Online currently lets you play for free up to a level 10 character... but you can't get any rare loot items or leave the starting areas or Norsica and Nordland.

    I had bought a copy of the game when it first came out, but only subscribed to it for a few months...

    I played a trial character for a bit, then found out that I had a free 14 day thing for my normal account. I played that for a bit and found out that as soon as you leave the areas that the trial characters can visit, the place is a gigantic ghost land, with a handful of people in each zone. This also applies to the other two starting zones (trial characters are limited to Empire vs Chaos starting area, the other two are Dwarf vs Greenskin and Elf vs Dark Elf) and the two cities (Altdorf and the Inevitable City).

    P.S. Did I mention there are only 4 North American servers for Warhammer Online?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rcuhljr (1132713)
      Talk about wasting potential. I remember release day population. Great day to be on Empire, chaos was over filled on every server so wait times were like 30 seconds for a pvp match. The game was pretty enjoyable up until about level 30.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dunezone (899268)
      They should have skipped Warhammer and gone straight to Warhammer 40000 which is currently being. Warhammer was just WoW with a different face on.
      • I agree. 40k would have been another great alternative from Star Wars or Star Trek-type futuristic game play. It already has a rich history to draw upon, and it was designed for war gaming, so there's tons of factions and ready-made reasons for conflict.

    • by Achra (846023)
      I found Anarchy Online to be very similar. It is free to play up to a certain level (was 60 I think?) and you're confined to a starting world.. I found the game a lot of fun and decided to pony-up for the subscription. The areas outside of the free-to-play are desolate wastelands.
      • by hitmark (640295)

        the free to play part of AO is the core game and the older expansions, and the max level on those are 200, iirc. Then comes the pr month stuff.

        also, i think a lot of people are holding back on that game, i know i do, as they are in the process of reworking the mechanics from the ground up. Over the years, the expansions and patches have turned any kind of mass fight into a twitch game, leaving the "casters" kinda left out.

        But that seems to be a repeating pattern when it comes to these games. The caster play

    • by KiwiRed (598427)
      I experienced the same thing about a month back, when I initially gave the trial a play (nice game, and the trial zones were comparatively well populated), then picked up a cheap box copy and moved from a lively game to a ghost-town. The first non-starter zone I visited had, for a good part of the time I was there, no other players in that zone.

      I cancelled my sub after only a week and left feedback that the game, as it stood, wasn't worth a subscription with its current population levels.
      • then picked up a cheap box copy and moved from a lively game to a ghost-town. The first non-starter zone I visited had, for a good part of the time I was there, no other players in that zone.

        I cancelled my sub after only a week and left feedback that the game, as it stood, wasn't worth a subscription with its current population levels.

        Sounds like you are part of the problem. " There was no one playing so I quit" If everyone says that over a period of time you know you had enough players just no one stuck around.

        That is why MMO launch time is so important. You need to maintain the subs. only way that happens is if the game is fun and compelling.

  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:00PM (#32463688) Homepage

    A stealth torrent client for game updates is fine the way WoW does it - informed consent and the app isn't hiding on you when it's running.

    DDO's version of a torrent-based client updater starts up with Windows and operates silently, not even a system tray icon.

    I wrote more about it on http://www.unhelpful.org/2010/02/15/underhanded-and-sneaky-pando-ddo-online-and-turbine/ when I discovered it, and did get a reply from Pando. Rather than risk traffic my host's server can assuredly not take, I'll just paste it here.

    If this is useful, great, if it's overly spammy, just mod it down and accept my apologies, but I personally consider a stealth torrent client whose only visibility to the user is when they click on a boilerplate EULA for something called Pando Media Booster, and one that operates behind the scenes, on startup, without any icons or program windows to be malware in the loosest terms. I don't mind an MMOG providing an option to get (and obviously, provide) files to and from other users to speed up the overall update process via torrent client. Turbine's, or Pando's, is utterly unacceptable. A bit of quick looking confirms that PMB is part of the LotRO install.

    -----

    Underhanded and sneaky: Pando, DDO Online, and Turbine

    Wherein the author takes Turbine to task for running a stealth torrent client on users' machines.
    Date: February 15th, 2010 @ 10:39
    Author: delusion

    A lot of us are familiar with software companies leveraging the BitTorrent protocol. World of Warcraft comes to mind; every update is, if possible, sent to you via the torrent protocol. This is fine, because once you close the updater, the torrenting ceases. You are aware and informed.

    I found something a lot more underhanded the other day while investigating some issues. A program called PMB.exe wanted to access the internet. PMB is another torrent client (Pando Media Booster) used by some other pieces of software to share data (in my case, it was from trying Dungeons & Dragons Online for free for a few weeks).

    The key difference is that, unlike the WoW patcher, PMB was operating without my being aware, and was not making any attempt to keep me informed. As I have quite enough torrents that I deliberately seed, the last thing I need is another client fighting for bandwith, sharing files that I’m not interested in sharing. It was only sharing game data files, nothing of mine, but it’s still an extremely unethical thing to do without my knowledge.

    I don’t have any expectations for Pando to live up to; they make stealthware and sell it to other companies. I do, however, have expectations for DDO’s publisher Turbine to live up to. When Asheron’s Call was popular, one of their practices which set them apart was their approach to their customers. At the time, the big massively multiplayer online games were Ultima Online and Everquest. Ultima Online’s developer, Origin (now Electronic Arts) were best known for a rather brain-dead approach; problems with the game were often hand-waved as something the players should sort out, and there was insufficient attention to detail to the ramifications of software changes and how they would be exploited. Everquest’s developer, Verant (now Sony Online Entertainment) was better known for being downright hostile to its users; you were playing their game, according to their vision, and if you had a problem with that, well, you didn’t know what you were talking about and frankly you could go toss off if they didn’t ban you first.

    Turbine was the first of the more popular MMOGs to treat its customers like customers. They were neither ignored nor actively treated like the enemy. Their customers weren’t always right (and anyone who ever played an MMOG is going to cringe at the notion that the customer is always right), but they weren’t talked down, patronized, or insulted.

    This respect for the customer is precisely why this inclusion of Pando Media Booster feels like a bet

    • by hitmark (640295)

      odd, when installed DDO, the tray icon was right there, heck it gave me a big window on first run to display the install.

      and yes, the same downloader will be used for lotr, as i see a entry in it for said game already.

      and one is fully able to go in and tweak the settings, even going as far as turning of the torrent part of the updater if one so want.

  • by the Atomic Rabbit (200041) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:18PM (#32463900)

    Anyone know how they're gonna handle the suckers who shelled out for a lifetime subscription?

    • by McBeer (714119) on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:30PM (#32464034) Homepage
      They will continue to get access to everything they have already and get a crap ton of credits for future stuff. A friend of mine has a lifetime subscription and doesn't seem to feel slighted by the changes.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2010 @05:34PM (#32464080)

        I'm a lifer, and I don't feel slighted either. And no, that's not just the fear and the agony rationalizing. We get all the content we currently have, plus perm status as VIP (their word for the subscription based services). We get a lot of bonus credits starting off just for being Lifers, plus a stipend of 500 free points per month until the game closes. Seems to me like they actually put thought into those they had already taken money from.

    • by gambit3 (463693)

      From their FAQ:

      # 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

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      They continue exactly as is - just like monthly subscribers but without having to pay anything. The free-to-play stuff is for the players who don't have a subscription. Subscribers will have most of the perks automatically, and will just be able to buy a few convenience extras.
  • but will they be able to handle the load ? if it becomes free to play, their servers will probably overflow from players.

    but that cant be wrong can it.
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      If they were worried about server load, they'd still have enough interest to make a traditional subscription structure work. At worst, they'll institute a queue system-- assuming that they haven't had one since launch.

      Asheron's Call, and Dungeons and Dragons Online (both Turbine MMOs too, coincidentally) have operated on a microtransaction basis for some time, and neither have been in any danger of server-toppling popularity.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      They are adding new servers when this launches.

      Plus VIP players get log on queue preference over premium players, who get queue preference over free players.
  • Is not every fantasy-based MMORPG essentially LoTR Online?
    • There were elves, dwarves, trolls and ogres before Tolkien. And "fantasy" has been around since man thought about more than where to get his next meal.

  • As a reasonably-long-time Premium-level player of Dungeons & Dragons Online I can safely say that I'm a big fan of this payment model and I will be checking out LOTRO when it becomes available as Free-To-Play! I checked out some of the videos and it looks damned good! :D

    It's a great payment model, it puts the power back into the hands of the player where it belongs, I don't feel like my money is being extorted from me if I don't "get my money's worth" by not playing excessively for a month, and that, wi

    • Go for it! I've left LOTRO for the somewhat darker fantasy of AoC, but LOTRO is a hell of a good game. One thing that they do particularly well is publishing; I've never seen an MMO with such smooth patches and major releases. And they do regular fun seasonal events too.

      I was rather surprised by the move to go free-to-play, but perhaps it's not the sign of a dying game... perhaps they've had good experience with DDO.
  • It sounded fine... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:29AM (#32468578)

    It sounded fine to me, giving DDO another try. It was free-to-play now, so what the hell.

    I ended up with 7 old friends joining up to start playing DDO, reactivating our guild from when the game came out. The game was pretty limited when it first came out and we only played a couple of months the first time around.

    About 3 weeks into it the content, several of us hit "The Wall"--the point at which you have completed most of the free content and have to pay for more or suffer the anguish of running the same instances over and over.

    A few of us went ahead and did so only to realize that we had just made a distinction between us, and our friends--we can go here and you cannot. Unless you pay. It was not something we intended, merely a product of doing business with Turbine and opening up content, but unless all of your friends do so, you will be severing in-game ties with them at some point. Of the seven of us, 2 are still playing DDO F2P, one went back to LotRO, 3 went back to WoW and one gave up on gaming altogether.

    As a player, THAT is the biggest drawback to the F2P model that I can see. My first experience with F2P, a group divided, was not a good one and for that sole reason. DDO as a game was fine, it is the pay model that created the problems.

    LotRO had another problem. At almost precisely level 40, the game split up into 2 means of leveling. Running quests/instances and doing the mini-instances with AI minions. Some people chose one method, others choose...well the other method. So a divide was created in that sense, as well. There was also the issue of having to level not only your character, but multiple weapons and minions. The leveling of weapons was a real drag as you could not do so at the same rate you leveled your character--you had to stop and grind to get your weapons caught up with you. Something changed about the game at level 40...it quite suddenly went from cheerfully enjoying Tolkien's world to hard-core grind. The one really good thing I can say about LotRO is that is a beautifully rendered world and the engine is probably the most resource friendly I have seen in any MMO. I was able to run it at max graphics with only moderate hardware and it looked great. A P4 and a $99 dollar GPU gets you a solid 60FPS with all the eye-candy.

    Combined with the pay "Wall" of DDO, I see a preponderance of Fail here, though. The "group-breaking" aspects of the F2P model was something that was simply insurmountable unless all you friends go into it assuming they will be paying anyways. And if that is the case, just give me all the content for $15. It has worked for me and my friends since 98' Ultima Online, why change it now?

    • I think the real deciding factor is, can the additional content be purchased for less than or equal to $15/month? If it can, then no problem, you're just like a subscription based mmo (except you can skip new content and expense for a month if you have other things going on). If it would cost more than $15/month, and you or your friends didn't think it was worth it, then I can see the problem.
      • "I think the real deciding factor is, can the additional content be purchased for less than or equal to $15/month?"

        I think you are missing my point. As a group, with the F2P system (where content is purchased incrementally), you have to constantly align your content with the content of the people you play with.

        Bob has the "Nubsauce Caverns" Dungeon Pack that he paid for, but Mary has the "Invasion of the Muppets" Dungeon Pack. They still cannot play together until one, or the other, buys another Dungeon Pac

        • Doesn't DDO offer the option of a monthly fee to access all content?
          • I thought so.

            I even paid for it.

            Turns out it is NOT all of the content. You still have to pay for full stats and some of the actual content. Needless to say, I do not play DDO anymore. I was skeptical of the F2P thing at first as is, and that was the cork in that particular bottle. I guess I wasn't specific enough. Even with the monthly subscription, the DDO store still sells you content and items, including some that is accessible no other way.

            I am willing to bet that current LotRO monthly subscribers will

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