LOTRO Going Free-To-Play…Thanks, I Guess

June 4, 2010

I don’t usually fly into a fury to post about the latest news, preferring to let other bloggers more passionate about the topic write about it instead, then say my piece in the comments. But the news of Lord of the Rings Online going free-to-play (amusing how big news is always dumped on us on Fridays) stirred in me more thoughts than usual. I went back and forth with myself until I finally decided that yes, I’m going to go ahead and write them out too, just to make it easier for me to wrap my head around this.

My first thought was admittedly very self-serving, and that was “Boy oh boy, by Frodo’s hairy left foot, this is going to solve my too-many-subscriptions problem!” accompanied by a a sigh of relief for my savings account. As it happens, I’m still running on free time in LOTRO until the end of summer, and depending on when these changes will go into effect “this fall” I may never have to pay for a LOTRO subscription again.

The game going F2P will also mesh well with my pattern of playing — LOTRO is my casual game, the “MMO spa” I go to for a nice breather and a thorough de-stressing. But it’s also the first subscription to go if something new and shiny comes along to grab my interest, and only after the new-game-smell of whatever I was obsessed with has worn off do I think about picking up LOTRO again. (And now, I feel a little guilty…if this was a relationship I’d be the cheating scumbag and LOTRO would be the patient, loyal partner that always welcomes me back with open arms when I come crawling back begging for forgiveness.) LOTRO going F2P will undoubtedly allow me more freedom with accessing its content; I’ll be able to play it whenever I want without having to worry about a subscription ever again, regardless of whether or not I’m between games.

So, I guess I can’t really hate the idea. Mind you, I’m not loving it either. My only concern with F2P is the quality of the community. It would be a shame to see LOTRO chat devolve into the kind of riff-raff I experienced in Allods Online, my only experience with F2P. But then, I’ve also heard great things about DDO’s community, so hopefully going F2P doesn’t automatically mean doom.


  1. Very interesting. This may be my inducement to try it again. I’ve had too much on my plate IRL lately, and haven’t playing much of anything.

    • It’s understandable though, you’re busy with work and in another country right now! It would be awesome if you give LOTRO a try again this fall 🙂

  2. Community is the biggest concern for me too.

    The switch really won’t affect subscribers much at all. If you’re monthly or semi-annual now you have an option to drop from the VIP to the premium level and continue playing without paying if you’re on a break or busy or whatever. For lifers, like me, there’s no change at all, we’re just permanent VIPs who don’t pay.

    • I’m still somewhat relieved I didn’t get a LTS this year…having a LTS since launch is one thing, it would have paid for itself long ago. Getting points to buy everything you’ve ever wanted from the store is nice, but then again some of it would inevitably be items I would never have bought otherwise, and I doubt any of it is required to play.

  3. I think the game is still not going to attract a lot of the ADD types that dig WoW and Allod’s [both of which I also dig or have dug btw, I’m not saying everyone that plays those games acts like a spoiled 12 year old…just a lot of the guys you see in the chat channels]. The setting is too restrained, the pace of the game is too slow, and the character models and clothing options are too subtle.

    • I told Kae in his post that I’m optimistic as well. I think WoW’s community is poor because once a population gets to a certain level you’ll inevitably get your share of jerks. Allods at launch was like that too, with a influx of players jumping into the game to try it out (and I think with its F2P status, some people are inclined to be more brazen than normal, since they have nothing invested) but I haven’t been back in months, so I can imagine things a lot calmer there now.

      At worst, I see the LOTRO community get a little rowdy at the beginning, as the newcomers pour in. But things should return to normal once troublemakers get bored or the folks who decide LOTRO isn’t for them leave the game again. This is what I’m hoping of course, but then I think the prospects are good — I feel the overall look and tone of LOTRO generally appeals to an older, more mature crowd.

  4. […] MMO Gamer Chick: “So, I guess I can’t really hate the idea. Mind you, I’m not loving it either.” […]

  5. I’m hoping the style of LOTRO will keep the community decent although, yeah, it is a worry if it suddenly explodes…

  6. You will have to pay an extra fee to play your hobbit now like they did with Warforged.

    • One thing I’m actually quite relieved about is that you will still have access to everything you have paid for, with only a few exceptions. For example, apparently being a premium member after being a VIP (if I choose to downgrade) I will be exempt from the gold limit and I’ll get to keep my bags. I’ll still need to look into this a bit more…

  7. Dusty Monk wrote about it: http://ofcourseillplayit.com/?p=431 -> my main concern is that LOTRO as F2P does not seem to work as well as DDO, IMO.

  8. I’ve played a lot of free to play games and sure, you get really terrible people, I don’t think it varies too much from subscription games though.

    My question is, is the financial situation that bad at LOTRO or is the financial situation that good at DDO?

  9. I think the community will be fine. I didn’t much get into Allods but I did play RoM for quite a while. I still would if I could get it to launch on my main gaming rig but that’s rant on its own. Anyway, RoM’s community isn’t any worse than the triple-A titles I have plaeyd (which is pretty much all of them). It’s just a slightly different slice. The quality of people in any sufficiently large group is going to be pretty homogeneous.

    • I agree, I have a feeling that even if things go south, it will go back to normal in no time.

      Never played RoM, but my experience with the Allods community at launch was dreadful. Chat was spammed with with nonsense, racist comments, and all manner of trolling. People also openly encouraged others to kill-steal. Much worse than even WoW and its “anal spam” and chuck norris jokes, and pretty much any game community I’ve ever been in paid or free. This was only the first week though, things got better as the days went by and I moved out of the starting areas.

      • True, it was bad. But then having suffered through several MMO launches I didn’t see it as out-of-the-ordinary. The big thing right now is to troll by making WoW references.

        Members of my multi-MMO guild are up-in-arms over this change. Quite a few of those are expressing qoe over the community. TBH when it comes to MMO communities my standard operating procedure has been the same for the past decade.

        1: Ignore the official boards as much as possible. If it ain’t patch notes or blue names it ain’t worth reading. Not saying all the posts are crap but the crap-to-gold ratio is so high it’s not worth sifting for the gold.

        2: Log in, immediately turn off general/zone and trade. Trade is just spam and with the advent of the Auction House in pretty much every MMO since Anarchy Online there’s no need for it. General/zone is where the numbskulls normally confine their idiocy since that is where they get the largest reaction.

        3: Confine my activities mostly (but not entirely) to my guild. And..
        3a: …join a guild which frowns on wankery. Which is why I’m glad I found my current guild. Seems like we have a chapter in every game these days. 🙂

        Because of the above I doubt I’ll notice any difference in LotRO’s community because, frankly, I ignore most of it now and will ignore most of it then. On the other hand my guild is probably going to get more members. Hopefully this will convince my wife to give it a try.

      • All great steps to take with regards to MMO communities, and I can’t agree more with number 3. My guild in WoW is what saves me from an at times unbearable community. It’s nice to be able to zone out trade and general in big cities to focus on guild or party chat instead. I’m too stubborn to turn those channels off, and it’s my own fault. I just find it a little unsettling when things are TOO quiet 😛

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