Thursday, 10 June 2010


So, LOTRO is going Free to Play in the autumn. I can't say this came as a surprise; given how hard Turbine and Warner have been pushing F2P and micro-transactions in Dungeons & Dragons Online, it was pretty much inevitable they would hit LOTRO sooner or later. The big question is, how will this affect the core group of dedicated players? There have been some outraged responses on the forums, but to be honest, I'm inclined to see this as a positive development.

Why? Well, for one thing, there is the inescapable fact that for the last seven months, there has been a marked decline in the game which no amount of obfuscation can hide: on the one hand, the almost total lack of any new input since Mirkwood (I still refuse to take Vol.III/Book 1 in any way seriously), and on the other, the news that key Turbine developers were taken off LOTRO and put to work on other projects. It became obvious that LOTRO was being starved of funds, and risked dying a slow death by a thousand cuts. Something had to be done, and that something turns out to be going F2P.

Will this have a negative effect on existing players? Not in any way that I can see. Lifetime subscribers will acquire VIP status, and will continue to play free on a day-to-day basis. While it's not entirely clear how major new expansions will be paid for, that's hardly an issue: whether we buy major expansions, as we've done so far, or purchase them from the LOTRO store, really makes no difference. As for micro-transactions in actual items, I honestly don't think this will make the slightest difference to existing players, since apart from some starter kits of low-grade weapons and armour, the items available for sale will have no effect on performance. If the store goes on to do a booming business in summer hats and wet fish, it's no skin off my nose...

At least this way we will finally be getting new content. Reports from DDO players are almost entirely positive about the rejuvenating effect of going F2P, and apparently a respectable amount of new content has indeed been forthcoming. One possible downside which has been commented on has been the possible influx of "WoW-type mindless idiots", but this strikes me as a wild exaggeration. For one thing, basic F2P access will be strictly limited to certain areas, so that much of the time we wouldn't even see any of these rumoured barbarian hordes. For another, why would such players flock to LOTRO in the first place, rather that the Other Game itself? That said, I wouldn't be averse to making the RP servers in Europe (and in the States, if Turbine decide to set one up) VIP only.

What I am less happy about, though, is that this development clearly means we won't see any additional content until F2P is launched in the autumn (September? October?). It's going to be a long summer. Hope you all have a good time fighting your way up to the Lieutenant...

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


It's June 2nd today, exactly six months - half a year - since Siege of Mirkwood was released on December 1st. That's a long, long time to go without any updates (ignoring the ridiculous Oath of the Rangers which came out on March 1st), and with no word of anything to come other than vague mutterings about some announcement which might or might not be made at E3.

Inevitably, I haven't been spending much time ingame, other than to lead kinship raids into Barad Guldur twice a week (we are just getting to grips with the Lieutenant). Given that the BG raid is really all that's available for end-game players - of whom there's an awful lot by this time, less of course those who've left the game in sheer frustration - I've been wondering just why BG is still on a weekly reset. If it were reset twice weekly, as I seem to remember Nornúan used to be, we old-timers could at least get in a few extra cracks at doing something halfway interesting. It shouldn't take Turbine more than a few minutes worth of programming, is unlikely to cause offense to anybody, and might even reduce the overall volume of grumbling for a short while...