Turbine announces LOTRO going Free to Play

Ironically we were just having this discussion over on Mordor of Bust but Turbine made it official today with the official announcement that they’re adopting the same pay model as they recently implemented with Dungeons and Dragons Online.  Needless to say, twitter has just exploded today with all sorts of discussions and comments.

I’m still a bit conflicted about it, but so far I’m leaning more to the positive side but more on my thoughts later, I’m just going to make this a news and summary post.

I’d suggest reading the new LOTRO Executive Producer’s post on this subject as she not only explains her background and some of the goals but also gives us a few teasers as well.  This will be launched this fall with the second book of Volume 3.  Towards the end of the year into 2011 there will be enhancements to the Legendary Item system, radiance, DX11 support, and Monster play.  Now interesting enough, she does break out Item advancement as a second mention so possibly there’s something else in the works too, but we’ll have to wait and see.  She also hypes the beta signup which existing subscribers are already opted in to the chance to be selected but signing up again will boost your chances.  This obviously answers my concerns over the Isengard program, as they’ve been building all this new stuff for the F2P switch.

Now on to the meat, there are 3 different account Tiers, free, premium, and VIP.  All current subscribers are automatically given VIP status so that’s a nice perk.  For a pretty good chart on the explanation of the differences check out this link. One thing that Patience has already confirmed is that if you already have 7 character slots unlocked you will not lose those, these charts are just assuming you have the core Shadows of Angmar game not the expansions which unlock new slots, classes, and the higher level cap.  For the most part, I like the way they’ve broken things out and I really like the fact that things like storage slots, shared bank slots, and the new cosmetic wardrobe are all purchasable.  For all of us starved for slots, this is awesome as the wardrobe is 20 slots, shared storage is expandable to 50 (currently 20), and I’m assuming you can buy additional bank slots too.  Tons of information in the FAQ although most of it concerns what happens when you swap between Tiers.

For those of you (like me) that are Lifetime Founders there are some additional bonuses.  Lifetimers are automatically VIPs and get the 500 Turbine points for free ever month (just like if we were paying a subscription fee) but also get additional bonus points for being a Founder as well as veteran reward points for a total initial bonus of up to 3500 Turbine Points.  In addition, since it appears that the expansion packs are now part of the store it is possible that you’ll be able to buy those with Turbine Points such that you could save up and not have to spend actual cash if you didn’t want to.

One other point that’s mentioned in the chart but not really expanded is how players earn Turbine points through gameplay.  This will really drive how free it really will be to play as the chart shows that free players only have access to the 3 starter areas (Erid Luin, the Shire, and Bree) so there’s no way they can even approach the level cap.  But if through normal game play you can earn enough points to buy the other zones, everyone should be fine.  You’ll still need to buy the expansion packs, but in theory you can now use your in-game points as opposed to actual cash.

A couple of points I picked out:

  • Max characters per server is now 11
  • It looks like for the most part, downgrading account Tier means you can’t get new stuff but the old perks you had are still available.
  • Monster play is restricted to VIP level only
  • Quest regions are broken out per Tier, VIPs have full access others need to buy the packs
  • Limits on Gold and Inventory bags for the 2 lower tier accounts
  • Rested XP only available for VIPs
  • Can’t spend Destiny points unless you’re a VIP, but you can earn them at any tier.
  • Trait slotting is limited on 2 lower tier accounts
  • Points cannot be transferred between LOTRO and DDO

I’m going to reserve my thoughts on this for a little bit to let this all sink in, but wanted to get a quick summary out there.

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12 Comments

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    How did you get 11 characters per server? I read the VIP chart as being 5/server with +2 for Moria, +2 for the adventure pack for a total of 9 – same as current.

    I’ve tried looking at the VIP table again but don’t see where 11 comes from?

  4. 11

    Ok Doc, since you’re always cool headed…do you see in the FAQs that Lifetime members scoot right over to VIP but Founders “automatically become a VIP and will keep all of your membership privileges as long as you pay your monthly fee”. Why would the people who had enough faith in the game to buy lifetime memberships before release have to pay fees, but the other folks with after the fact memberships do not?

    Salaryn

    • 12

      Well I read that as more a reward for the founders who pay monthly. In order to keep their status, they must continue their current subscription type active. Lifetime already get VIP and an additional Loyalty bonus plus the advantage of never having to pay a dime for the game if they don’t want to. The only thing a lifetime member will have to buy is if there’s something in the store they want and they’ve already blown through all their points. I will admit I’m not sure of the difference between monthly paying founders and normal monthly payers (it may be vip status, or just a loyalty bonus), but in everything I’ve read lifetime folks by far are getting the best deal here.

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