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.