It looks like Turbine has either been corrupted by the Ring or they’ve been into the sauce. We’ve gone over the fact that LotRO is going “free to play” and I’ve also already made it clear that I’m one of the few dissenting opinions out there because I do not think this is ‘good for the game’. I guess the beta is running for the LotRO F2P model and some screenshots came out over at Massively (I don’t know if they are originally theirs — you never know these days) showing something that I found quite appalling.
Please view the screenshot to the right. Veteran players might recognize the location and the NPC’s and recognize that they are not merely simple little quests but ones that are important to the story and to the progression of a character — at least back in the days that I played. Veteran players will probably recognize several other locations and NPC’s and wonder the same thing that I am: What exactly is going to be “Free” in this “Free to play” game? Those quests lines appear to be “premium content” which means you have to pay for them.
Read the FAQ and you’ll see that they never mention anything about how much or little of the game is locked to “Free players”. They answer the question about whether or not you will have to buy items or not to enjoy the game by stating clearly “The purchase of items in the LOTRO Store is entirely optional.” Is it optional to buy content? Checking the FAQ it looks like just about 25/35 questions are there alluding to what your ‘status’ will be and how you’ll go about buying stuff from their store (VIP, Premium Member, etc) but none of them really outline the premium content plan.
I challenge Turbine to be forthcoming and tell us exactly what is and is not Premium Content. How much of Evendim is Premium? How much of North Downs is Premium? What about Angmar? This chart here states that players have “Unlimited” access to the world and “Unlimited” access to the Epic Story Quests. Soooo…. players grind once they’re out of their starting area (level 10)?
Does this sound like “Free to play” to you? It doesn’t to me. I’m sick of hearing the words “Free to play” associated with games that are so ridiculously far from it. Tell us what is and is not free. I want publishers/developers to be completely straight forward with people and lay out exactly what part of their game is available for free on both a technical and ideological level and then what they expect people to pay for straight up and in a roundabout way.
If you can’t quest in zones then you might as well not be able to go to them in a game like LotRo. That makes them not free to play. If you have to pay for content beyond level 10 then this is nothing more than a disguised method of charging a subscription fee… except they’ll make even more money from it while disturbing the beauty and harmony of their successful traditional subscription model game.
So to those who are so excited about giving the game a try and playing up their character to max without spending a dime…. you do that. Tell me how it goes when you quit at level 11 because you can’t stand grinding to tears. Let me know what it’s like seeing Premium Quest Rings everywhere. Be sure to come back here and trash the game for being terrible since you’ll know, never having played 99% of it. After that let’s open it up to discussion again about just how good this was for the game.