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

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the has-a-nice-one-ring-to-it dept.

Lord of the Rings 138

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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Validation? (2, Insightful)

UninformedCoward (1738488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463406)

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.

Re:Validation? (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463544)

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 originally and made $3mil/year with it ten years down the line.

Re:Validation? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463570)

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"...

Re:Validation? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465008)

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

Re:Validation? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465996)

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..."

well from canada this si cool but.... (1)

CHRONOSS2008 (1226498) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463420)

if were forced into caps by the CRTC hearings its moot
becomes to expensive to play online games at all.

NEW copyright laws will mean even using a computer becomes a legal night mare due to the technologial protection measure section cause files have attributes and modifying those attributes woud then require in writing to get permssions and im not telling microsfot or the linux kernal guys jack every time i want to change file attributes

Validation or desperation? (2, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463430)

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

Re:Validation or desperation? (1, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463458)

I need to proof read - s/always ran/also-ran/g.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

Commander South (1139931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463460)

You mean "also-ran"?

Re:Validation or desperation? (1, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463528)

Hah beat you to it

Re:Validation or desperation? (2, Funny)

Commander South (1139931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463696)

shucks, well at least I feel good about myself as I googled always ran to make sure there wasn't some phrase I didn't know about :)

Re:Validation or desperation? (3, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464028)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

StellarFury (1058280) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464344)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464586)

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. I'd probably happily pay $10 or $15 to skip a month's drudgery of something in order to play the game in a new way (e.g., have a healer character that is geared enough to raid, even if it's not geared enough to raid "progression" content). My play time is valuable to me, and I'd much rather spend it raiding with friends than questing madly and doing random dungeons ad nauseum with strangers.

Now, clearly, one doesn't want to do this with TOP TIER progression (and probably not even previous-tier), as then there's definitely a feeling of "pay to play" which I don't think we want. Rather, make it so that people leveling new characters, or perhaps even starting late in an expansion, can get up to speed Even More Quickly if all they want to do is raid, or PvP.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465086)

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 needed to buy anything from the cash store to be successful (unlike several free Korean-stlye MMOs I've tried).

Re:Validation or desperation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32466900)

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.

The veteran status that allows you to start a new character at level 4 is available from the DDO store, but you must be logged in with a character of level 4 or higher to buy it, so you do still have to put in some work.

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. I'd probably happily pay $10 or $15 to skip a month's drudgery of something in order to play the game in a new way

While you can buy some gear from the store, all of it is base enhancement bonus stuff you can fairly easily acquire at slightly higher levels with a bit of chest grinding, and is usually considered vendor trash when you do find it. The only real benefit gained by buying it from the store is getting it earlier, and it being character bound so that it does not take permanent damage, useful for smacking oozes until you get a muckbane/doom. None of it can be sold or traded, not even to NPC vendors. Even the XP/loot bonus items are available from collectors in the game, about the best items to save points for from the store are the Tomes of Supreme Ability that boost all your stats.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464600)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465268)

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 to (theoretically) make the game fun.

There is no pay off where the game "becomes fun". Its the same game all the way up.

If you enjoyed questing and leveling, forming groups, and running pvp battlegrounds and what not at level 10, you'll enjoy it at level 80.

If you hated doing quests, running around, etc at level 10, you'll likely hate it just as much at level 80. There are more options at the higher levels, and some of the encounters are mroe elaborate, but the lowbie stuff in EQ2, WoW etc is a decent primer for what's ahead for you. If you're not having fun with that, its insane to think it will 'get fun' later.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466032)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466786)

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 them all in.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467276)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466490)

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.

MMO owners have little choice in the matter. They can either charge monthly subscriptions or offer a free to play but pay for gear/gold/features and possibly supplement revenue further with advertising. But as for being allowed to purchase items that give you an unfair advantage over free to pay players, this is rather unavoidable and is already available in every MMO out there. The problem is that if the developers do not offer this service then Chinese old farmers and professional account hijackers will. Runescape, which I believe is still the worlds largest free to play MMO tried to fight real world trading instead by enforcing crippling trade restrictions and kneecapping PVP looting but it lost so many players the game nearly went under.

If someone can come up with a better model that retains both company profit and doesnt kill off the playerbase on a free to play MMO that prevents players buying in game items or services with real money I'm sure the MMO developers would be very interested to hear it.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466508)

Gah typo! Obviously Chinese 'old' farmers should have been written as Chinese gold farmers.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466832)

but it lost so many players the game nearly went under.

Its a niche market. Let the people who want to play in a micropayments buy your gear server play there. Run a purist server without it, and zero tolerance for it. Let the niche that wants it have it. Let the group that wants micropayments have it... i never understand why its an either or situation.

As for actually enforcing 'restricted trade'... lots of ways to do that, especially when you've narrowed the server focus on the players who want to play a server where 'wealth' and 'gear' represent the meritocracy of time invested and skill. (Preferably skill, but too many mmos substitute 'tedious' for 'difficult'... but that's a separate discussion.)

The trouble is they try to have have a gear meritocracy and a vibrant crafting system and robust player economy at the same time. This doesn't work. Everquest tried to combat this somewhat with no-drop, and quests, and keys, and flags... but it was a hackjob that annoyed more than it helped. And the crafters raised a stink because the good gear was no-drop drops and nobody wanted there crafted crap... so they bump up the crafted crap and then theres no reason to go raiding... just by some gold from a pharmer and buy the crafted set... and round it went. The only solution for the mmo was to keep inflating so there was always something better coming... but this just left most of the game unused while the crowds chased down the latest shiny.

Its easy to solve, but you have to pick your path... you can't do it all... at least not on the same server.

Re:Validation or desperation? (3, Insightful)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 4 years ago | (#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...

Re:Validation or desperation? (4, Insightful)

secolactico (519805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465626)

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.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463770)

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? (3, Interesting)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Validating what? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464196)

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 game then if I'm paying the same per month as someone who plays for forty hours a week.

Re:Validation or desperation? (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467258)

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 (2, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463464)

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?

Re:I'm interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463498)

It doesn't include the expansions, no. Those will have to be purchased separately, I would assume from the Turbine Store.

As a recent lifer who's just dropped over $750 on three life subs and all the xpacs, I was flaming mad this morning. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw how this could potentially be good for the game, especially when I discovered that Turbine is in fact taking care of us lifers and not just telling us to shove off because they already have our money.

Re:I'm interested (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463898)

Time to off yourself for the good of humanity.

Re:I'm interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465452)

As a recent lifer who's just dropped over $750 on three life subs and all the xpacs...

I'm sure I am not the only one who finds it ironic that the term you use to describe yourself is "lifer."

Re:I'm interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32466924)

I am also a lifetime subscriber to LoTRO, and also have been playing DDO since the F2P option was released last September. I hope that the Turbine points given to VIPs in either game are shared on the account for use in either store, as this would be a greater draw from both sides.

Re:I'm interested (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463674)

...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...

Re:I'm interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465624)

It does not. You still have to have the expansions to access their respective regions.

Re:I'm interested (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467020)

EVE can be "free" to play, since you can buy Game Time Codes with in-game currency via CCP's secure code transfer system. Of course you have to farm ISK, but a single character doing T2 invention/manufacturing in the right areas can pay for the GTCs for itself and 1-2 other characters.

Re:I'm interested (1)

Skexis (1744642) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467142)

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

Expansions and quest areas like Eriador are going to be pay-to-access, and Mines of Moria will still be a separate expansion you have to pay for.
They've outlined their general tiers of use here: http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/vipchart.html [lotro.com]

So rich persons get an edge? (4, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (5, Insightful)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:So rich persons get an edge? (2, Informative)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463606)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464102)

People who payed for DDO were able to access a good deal of additional content (including most, if not all, of the high level stuff) including all of the exclusive items that went along with them. I think it was exceptionally difficult to hit level 20 without buying the extra content. Also, quite difficult to get the higher point buys without paying as well I think.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464262)

But not impossible. And I feel that's all that counts. I think people look at this from the wrong perspective. It isn't person A has an advantage for paying. It's person B has a disadvantage for not paying. Want to play for free? Then you'll have to put in the extra effort.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464608)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

rainmouse (1784278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466544)

Also the problem is that every MMO has a micro transactions payment method already. Its just that if the developers don't offer it then an unofficial black market will.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (5, Informative)

tattood (855883) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:So rich persons get an edge? (1, Offtopic)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463842)

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).

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464066)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

Sethumme (1313479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464274)

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 8 hours a day to playing this game... it's no fair that I have to compete against these people!"

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465640)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464418)

But why is this a problem? That person is paying to support the game. They deserve non-superficial benefit, because without them, the game would disappear. Neither should they be overpowered, or risk endangering the free portion of the userbase.

In other words, you're freeloading. Of course you must prove yourself more than they. Yes, you will have a harder time. Suck it up. And deal with it.

Just knowing that you can freely compete with the best if you really wanted to is usually incentive enough.

(I don't play any of these MMOs, btw.)

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464666)

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 10x the cash gets you only 20-50% more power (for example), that's not much different than just buying from a gold farmer, only without the gray market.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

daveatneowindotnet (1309197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463824)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (5, Informative)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464204)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464466)

I haven't played LOTR Online, but if it's set up like DDO, (same developer so it might well be), the only PvP is if you choose to enter an arena, you can go the whole game and never fight another player so you won't be pwned buy somebody who's main weapon is a +12 Visa of Spending

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464564)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465050)

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.

Re:So rich persons get an edge? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466948)

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. Which can be acquired without spending real life money if you've saved up enough points.

I know a lot of people jump to the doom and gloom band wagon whenever they hear anything remotely like microtransactions. I know I did, but I read more about what's going on, read developer comments and interviews. It's extremely unlikely that people will be able to buy a better player; even if they considered it they know full well that there would be a big exodus of subscribers if they tried.

Tried it, hated it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463502)

Shitty game even for free-to-play.

How much is a ring? (4, Funny)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463534)

So how much is a ring?

Re:How much is a ring? (3, Funny)

Silly Man (15712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463550)

Your soul.

Re:How much is a ring? (0, Offtopic)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463918)

More like:

"No charge! ...

... until you use it."

Re:How much is a ring? (0, Offtopic)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463926)

Damn it, mine's already mortgaged for a cell phone (should have read the fine print, I know!)

Re:How much is a ring? (1)

masterwit (1800118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464380)

And you'll beat the game easily, but then have your character stolen by some asshole hacker Saruman.

Re:How much is a ring? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464656)

Your soul.

The RIAA now goes after ring-bearers?

I thought I recognized the dudes on the black horses...

Re:How much is a ring? (0, Offtopic)

Etherized (1038092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463880)

So how much is a ring?

One?

Any ring or ? (0, Offtopic)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464098)

the ring to bind them all ?

Re:How much is a ring? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464624)

You can't have the precioussss....

Re:How much is a ring? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32467030)

one does not simply walk into zales...

Warhammer Online could use something like this... (4, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Warhammer Online could use something like this. (2, Interesting)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463578)

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:Warhammer Online could use something like this. (2, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463850)

They should have skipped Warhammer and gone straight to Warhammer 40000 which is currently being. Warhammer was just WoW with a different face on.

Re:Warhammer Online could use something like this. (1)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463990)

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.

Re:Warhammer Online could use something like this. (1)

Achra (846023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464150)

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.

Re:Warhammer Online could use something like this. (1)

KiwiRed (598427) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466260)

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.

Will this include a Pando stealth torrent client? (5, Interesting)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463688)

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 betrayal of Turbine’s values. This is my bandwidth. The use of users’ bandwidth without informing them is theft. If a game developer wants to use it to distribute your content in a more efficient fashion, go ahead and ask the user. In my case, I’ll probably let you, assuming your client isn’t running in the background when I’m not actively involved in the game loader or the game itself.

Turbine, this is shameful and unethical.

Update, 16 Feb: Peter from Pando’s Network Support Team commented below and addressed some of the issues I brought up. Specifically, he does address the initial notification issue, so there is an initial screen which informs the user about the presence of the PMB client. If the PMB client was running only when DDO was updating, and running as an application showing up either in the task bar or the system tray, I’d feel a little differently about this whole situation. As it is, it’s the fact that this client has been running silently on startup and that I had to find out about it via firewall software and the process explorer that bugs me. I didn’t sign up for that.

-----

Peter
in February 16th, 2010 @ 11:29

Hello,

We at Pando came across your post and wanted to reach out to you regarding the issues you raised regarding the inclusion of PMB in Turbine Products.

Pando enables a secured and managed P2P technology to help both developers and gamers in increasing download speeds, improving completion time and reducing costs for developers so they can keep providing great content for gamers to enjoy. We realize that some gamers may be turned off by the P2P aspect, so we have provided a number of features to better inform users and offer them control over how PMB works on their machine.

The first screen that you see when you run the DDO downloader is this :

http://www.screencast.com/t/OTUwZDY2MzMt

We first detail what PMB is doing and provide a link to our terms of service, furthermore we install a Control Panel applet that allows you to turn PMB off, limit upload speed, and disable PMB from starting on Windows startup. You can find more information on this here:

http://www.pandonetworks.com/pando-media-booster-support-faq

You can also stop the seeding process by simply moving or deleting your downloaded content once the download has completed and you installed the game.

Lastly, you can easily uninstall PMB from Window’s Add/Remove Programs if you choose to do so.

We are constantly adding features to PMB to improve stability and politeness, and welcome any feedback or questions our users might have, so drop us a line via email: downloader@pandonetworks.com.

On a personal note, your blog has some great content, I hope this clears up any questions or problems you had with PMB.

Peter
Pando Networks Support Team

Re:Will this include a Pando stealth torrent clien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464772)

Wow great post, hadn't seen this on the DDO boards.. Looks like I'll be improving my bandwidth by forced removal of PMB

Re:Will this include a Pando stealth torrent clien (3, Interesting)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465942)

I'm a bit disappointed the earlier post was moderated as offtopic. I think luring in new players with a "play free" model and then slipping in a stealth torrent client is something most slashdotters who had any interest in the game would want to know about.

Re:Will this include a Pando stealth torrent clien (1)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467266)

If you download the LOTRO digital payed client right now it includes the Pando client so I would assume the free version does too.

I saw it in a routine checking of processes running and I checked what it was, removed it, and the game runs fine. DDO did also once removed but I didn't care for the game so I quit.

Popular Business Model? Maybe When It's Done Right (0, Redundant)

CoryD (1813510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463714)

This business model is a horrible example of how you can squeeze money from those individuals who pay to, "rent" your server space. To clarify on that statement, for DDO they stated that everyone can come back and experience the game for free. Those of us who had access to all of the content in the game originally had to repurchase the content as micro transactions. Your favorite quest hub prior to the business model is now only available by repurchasing what is on your installation disks to begin with. They niched all of the best quest lines and quest hubs as premium content, and forced players to repay via micro transactions to access it. This is pathetic.

Re:Popular Business Model? Maybe When It's Done Ri (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463920)

Except you aren't forced to pay for any of it, you can earn it all via playing the game (albeit slowly). But if you have one specific instance hub that's your favorite it's trivial to earn that many points.

Re:Popular Business Model? Maybe When It's Done Ri (1)

CoryD (1813510) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464244)

I already paid for it, 50+ dollars for the install disks that has the content on them. It just seems silly that they then took the same content you had available to you with a monthly sub, put it behind a premium content lable and want you to repay for it when the game is now free to download/pay. Why did I pay for the content files in the first place and have a disk if I then have to repurchase that content I had all along? I have all of the "premium" content, it's just sitting in a jewel case on a shelf. There's a large difference between starting a game as micro transactions, then changing to one. Could I pay the same 15$ a month and get the same instances I had available to me with a sub? Sure. It just feels like a total jip.

Re:Popular Business Model? Maybe When It's Done Ri (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465202)

I'm sorry, but as a Hellgate lifetime subscriber, I deny that you have ever experienced a "total jip". Also, why are you racist against Gypsies - are you Bulgarian or something?

Re:Popular Business Model? Maybe When It's Done Ri (2, Insightful)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464026)

I started playing DDO last week. I bought it when it first came out and didn't subscribe past the first month. If it still required a subscription, I still would not be playing it.

From what I can tell, for those that do subscribe under the new plan, they DO get access to all of the content (along with 500 points to spend on things like character slots), so I don't see how you lost anything. Or you could pay as you go and get each section separately, which is most likely what I'll end up doing. I'm a casual player, so I don't see myself plowing through more than $15 worth of content a month. The hybrid model seems to offer more options for the customers without taking away anything the pure monthly subscription offered.

Lifetime subscriptions? (2, Interesting)

the Atomic Rabbit (200041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463900)

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

Re:Lifetime subscriptions? (5, Informative)

McBeer (714119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464034)

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.

Re:Lifetime subscriptions? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Lifetime subscriptions? (1)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465012)

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 and options to enhance your game experience.

Re:Lifetime subscriptions? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466976)

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.

Im game. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464058)

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.

Re:Im game. (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464242)

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.

Re:Im game. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466980)

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.

Past is Prologue (1, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464072)

Is not every fantasy-based MMORPG essentially LoTR Online?

Re:Past is Prologue (1)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465770)

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.

It's not really f2p. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464626)

If it is anything like DDO "f2p" which I assume it will be, then big deal. DDO is not really f2p but more of a p2w (pay to win) game. In DDO with their free account you really only have quests in the first starting area enough to get you to around level 4 or 5. Then after that everything else requires that you pay them. You'll have to purchase quest/dungeon packs, additional character slots if you want alts (free accounts get 2 slots), and the rights to use banks and the auction system. There are ways around this but it requires you to grind out all of your character slots on all servers in order to gain TP (turbine points) to buy said additional content. This wouldn't be to bad but by the time you've done the starting things with one or two characters doing it again is extremely boring since the game is kinda, in my opinion, linear.

The main problem here.... (1)

Kr1ll1n (579971) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466480)

As someone who currently plays an F2P game, the biggest issue I see is that you have no way of keeping what you have purchased, let alone transferring it to another company willing to host said game. Look at it like this; Let's say over the course of your involvement in an F2P game, you spend close to $1,000.00. You have invested 2 years building your character, and inventory. The company hosting the game decides to sell off the asset to another publisher, who has the discretion of transferring your account. Until some standard is adopted that is secure, and allows portability of game character information and inventory, what benefit is there for any player who has paid a micro-transaction?
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