You… Shall Not… Pay! *

*Until you reach the point where we require payment for you to progress.

Help me understand why it’s still being called and advertised as “Free to Play”.  I’ve already proven that to be a fallacy.  Why does the commercial purposely mislead people?  It’s free until you reach about level 10 (can anyone confirm the exact point in content?) and need to move beyond the initial experience.

“But you can grind to get points then buy quests!”

Stop and listen to yourself.   GRIND…. to BUY…. LotRO’s QUESTS…  First of all, grinding to quest is in itself a ridiculous statement.  Second, LotRO’s quests are 90% grinding anyway.  Third, you’re probably one of the same people who rejoice in the ability to buy from the cash shop items which allow you to circumvent the original grinding!  I know that half of the people out there are being hypocritical on this issue.

The honest truth here that I’m sure is backed up with real statistics of “F2P” games is that most players will burn out grinding for points before they actually achieve enough to play for free.  There’s a decent outline here of how someone can play to about level 25 without needing to spend any money.  The reality is, most people will probably subscribe (as suggested in that guide) in order to be able to have an easier time playing for free (derp).  It won’t take long for the player to run out of content again and be so burned out that they cancel.

There will be immense player turnover from this, but that’s how this model works.  Turbine knows that.  If they can get a ton of people to spend $5 then that’s already better than having a few people spend $15.  That might be “good business” but that’s not good game management.

“The Adventure is Free” <– That is a bold-faced lie.  Stop eating it up.

  • As much as I hate the so called F2P model, this one is better than most, I still dont like it however.

    Yes, you can pretty easily get to level 25 or so with the quests you get for free. To get beyond that you will have to grind or pay. Now you are not barred from going into the other zones and killing mobs there for xp, and most quest rewards are about the equivalent of killing 10-12 on level mobs. You also have access to some of the skirmishes(theres a limit but I dont remember what it is) and those are good xp, plus you get all the book/epic storyline quests. Where you will be hurting is unlocking trait slots.

    So while I agree that F2P isnt good for the long term development of the game, Ive seen much worse implementations of it.

  • Heh, it’s funny, I really like the hybrid subscription / pay-as-you-go model that Turbine have come up with here. It suits my on again, off again playstyle perfectly. But it’s not free – simple as that. It’s $15/month if you’re a heavy player, same as it always was, and maybe $5/month if you’re a light player (one zone worth of quests a month).

    When people talk about grinding points to buy content, I’m always tempted to say “or, you could ask mummy and daddy if you can do some chores to earn some extra pocket money – I’m sure they’ll give you more than ten cents for an hour of work”.

  • @Sentry: True. Allods would be a horrific and idiotic implementation of “Free to play”. LotRO could be called a foolish one.

    Regardless, it’s not very “Free to play”, especially if to keep playing for free you have to grind, which is an element of gameplay they want you to pay to circumvent. Rather clever that they get you into the mentality of wanting to use the cash shop that way, eh?

    @Carson: And I’ll concede that for some people it might be a nice model. Absolutely kills the original soul of the game but I’ll also concede that I played that game in its entirety and unsubbed because I was done, thus having finished what I put on a pedestal.

  • I can understand why some new players are upset. One guy ranting in the advice channel in Breeland today summed things up pretty good “This is all I get for free?”

  • Theres 2 hybrid models.

    Theres the Turbine model, where you buy content a chunk at a time, and have permanent access to it and the gear that comes from it.

    Theres the SOE model, where you get lots of content for free, but you have to rent access to the top-end gear by subscribing.

    The Turbine model is actually great for development, as it turns new content into a profit center as it’s bought by purchasers, as well as providing renters with a reason to keep renting.

  • Free 2 Play or Free 2 Play-the-way-you’ve-always-played-subscription-games? Don’t confuse them here. I don’t personally like the DDO or LotRO Free 2 Play models: they are confusing and people to avoid that confusion.

    Allods Online, granted it had its famed stumble by dropping in untested cash shop changes and not communicating it to anyone right before launch, but it is a true Free 2 Play model. What is it, almost 9 months now that I’ve been playing Allods and not a single penny spent. No, I don’t play it a lot, but I never have to pay to play when I want to.

    I could also have done this in LotRO. I could have played… it… for… free. No, I couldn’t have played it for free like you Keen, but that’s probably why subscriptions are more valuable to you. But that doesn’t stand for everyone and it certainly doesn’t invalidate the F2P models out there.

  • While Free to Play might be a misnomer for LOTRO, their hybrid model is actually quite supportive of different player types, except those who feel their “grind through time” achievements are somehow cheapened by others having alternate pathways to the same result.

    For one thing, it lowers the barrier to entry into their game. The level 1-15+ “free” experience is like an extended free trial. If you like the game to continue on into the locked areas, it’s worth your $$$ to subscribe for a month or three, especially if you’re hardcore enough to sweep through all the quest areas in that time, ie most MMO players once they get started on a game.

    For very casual people who know they can’t manage that sort of pace, they have the option of dribbling in $6.50 + some deed grind for points to unlock it area by area.

    There are the RPers who are happy just putzing around in the Shire at level 1-10. Now they don’t have to pay a subscription to do that, and it’s easier to justify logging in to chat and keep up with friendships and make the lower level scene more populated.

    The other place where I think casual people tend to grind to a halt and lose interest is the expansions – Moria is where I’ve personally spent a year lost in, because I can only bear playing intensively for 1-2 weeks in the deep dank dungeon before getting bored. Once you’ve paid $$$ for the expansion, you can now take as long as you want messing around with it without the spectre of such thoughts as “ack, I’m paying for this experience on a monthly affair, if I’m not optimising my time here, maybe I should just quit the game.”

    At the same time, the new options don’t devalue the subscribers and lifetimers. It’s really worth it to subscribe for $10 a month (if you catch their sale periods) for 3+ months if you know you’re going to stick with the game and play intensively for that time.

    The so-called F2P option (but really a hybrid pay-when-you-want-content/stuff model) just makes it easier to stop LOTRO for a while and pick it back up without feeling obliged to pay for the months you’re not playing the game.

  • Companies are figuring out the F2P concept. There are actually some indie companies out there that have been using this model for a long time (Frogdice, Iron Realms, for example) and it works very well for their customers.

    The huge benefit of a WELL DESIGNED F2P model is that as a customer, you do not have that relentlessly ticking auto-billing subscription constantly making you ask yourself things like:

    1) Am I going to play this month?
    2) Am I going to play enough to justify the subscription?
    3) What if I want to play for a few days, is that worth it?
    4) If I don’t keep up my subscription, I’ll lose contact with so many of my friends.

  • @Muchbeast:

    Would the perfect solution to your point 1-4 be shorther sub durations?

    Like you can subsribe for 24 hours, for 48 hours, for 1 week, … ?

    This way you dodge the problems with item shops or sold content and can still jump into the game for a day (cost: about 50 cent)

  • First off, I think its every company’s own right to decide how their product is gonna be paid for, whether through a subscription, a cash shop, donations, trading of cows, whatever.

    But the Term Free2Play, while technically correct, should not be put on games like LOTRO.

    Back in the day, there were little computer programs that were free to use but could donate too if you liked it. Freeware.
    Also programs that had limited options or were in a timer. Shareware.

    Free2Play to me means either it is completely free like freeware, or offer some cosmetic items that only thanges the LOOK of the game/your character.

    The model where you can or sometimes must buy real advantages in the game, should not be called that, as it confuses people. It would be better to call it “Unlimited Demo”, “Limited Free to Play” or something in that direction. I can’t think of the perfect word(s).

    But I guess thats just why they call it free2play, It gives an initial sense that its free, people like free stuff. Achievers get hooked on the game and blam, more income.

    Yes, I do think MMO’s are like cigarettes and alcohol, you can get addicted to them and it can impact you physically. I was called crazy for thinking that by outsiders 10 years ago. Now those same people try to write reports about that very same subject.

    If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
    (Lord of the rings+free = too good to be true)

  • Really Lotro’s model has simply turned every player into a lifetime subscriber. Sure the store sells lots of consumable type stuff… but for the big, permanent pieces of the game, you’re unlocking that lifetime sub one chunk at a time. After you buy lone lands, you’ll have access to that content on any character permanently. Never have to spend another penny to play through that area.

    As a lifetimer to begin with, I’m super pumped about the whole deal, because Turbine is going to be able to churn out content much more quickly. We’ll get new zones at a much faster pace than previously.

    But heck, F2P isn’t even the most important gameplay change the latest update. The classic instance system has given Lotro complete horizontal expansion of content in a vertical leveling game. I can run the great barrows instance, which is a level 20ish dungeon, at level 65 for level 65 challenge and rewards.

    There’s no longer the problem of being pidgeonholed into a relatively small set of instances at endgame in Lotro, which has always been it’s biggest issue. The endgame is now ever expanding.

  • You know, we can complain about the name all we want. Here’s the bottom line- in the past 2 days, I have seen old friend after old friend after old friend come back to play the game. Will it last forever? I don’t know. But it certainly has not “absolutely kill[ed] the original soul of the game.”

    We have an ally chat channel that for the past 6 months has average 2-3 people in it, if that, and last night when I logged in there were 13. And that was just preview. My kin is a pretty tight knit, just enough to raid type sort of kin, and we recruited two new people last night.

    Will Turbine release crappy updates that abuse the cash shop. You say yes, I say let’s see. I’m paying my subscription for $10 a month like I have for ages now, and have something like the equivalent of $35 to spend in the cash shop, or save. I didn’t lose anything, and I didn’t pay anything for that. /shrug

    Can we just give this a little time, and stop fussing about LOTRO using an industry wide term that we ALL know is wrong? Move on.

  • I actually agree that “free to play” is a bit of a misnomer for the Turbine model. You choose whether you pay via a one-time unlock fee or a recurring monthly subscription.

    That said, the DDO implementation of which might more accurately be called “open access” is probably the most consumer-friendly model that I’ve seen. I’m getting by on less than $10/month, and there is 100% accountability – if Turbine doesn’t add anything I want this month, I don’t pay them this month, but I still get to keep everything I paid them for in the past.

    Also, if you can’t charge for content or anything that affects character power, the majority of players aren’t going to pay you. As nearly as I can tell, the only way for a game to actually receive Keen’s blessing to call themselves “free to play” is to go bankrupt.

  • Which is what he wants according to previous posts on the matter. F2P is a vague description of every game that isn’t based around a subscription only payment method. Advertising as a F2P isn’t the problem, but the name of the entire sub genre. They are just using the name that shows the game doesn’t require you to have a subscription to enjoy the content. I don’t think anyone looks at F2P as something that should be or is entirely free. There is really is no such thing as a free game. You pay at some point no matter if it is MMO, Single Player, Multi-Player, RPG or FPS.

    But then again I dont want to disturb the thinking you have set in stone. Take it literally and be disappointed by everything in the genre rather than looking at the positives and God forbid enjoying yourself 😛

  • Keen…my take is that you generally hate ANY F2P model…period.

    I started the other night in Lotro from level 1 as a dwarf. I comppleted all the dwarf quests and have 3 deeds left to work on in that area. I am now moving over to the Elf starter area and doing their quests to complete that deed and pick up the others there….

    So far I have over 100 Turbine Points, and I am not even done yet. I am moving to the Shire to start their starter quests and do their deeds. After that I’ll move to the Man area and do those as well.

    Granted I am on a Premium account, but even on a F2P account…doing this would get you enough points to move above level 10 and out further in the world.

    The “Grinding” of deeds that you don’t like…its has to be done on VIP accounts as well because the deeds give you traits you need later on, much like your Talent Points in WoW. Trying playing without those and see how guilds look at you.

    Honestly, LOTRO is not your normal “race to end game ” game. It’s relaxed, casual, fun and more of an at your pace game than most others. Yes, you CAN play the game for free, it just takes a little longer…BUT if you just enjoy yourself, enjoy the story along the way and play to have fun then you will fit in with most of the community and have no problems.

  • @Shawnola

    I agree, lets give it some time before making assumptions on things we have no clue about.

    I am also planning on forking over the 10 a month to move up to VIP status. $5 free points a month is a pretty good deal considering how I am playing as posted above.

    I don’t really see much in the shop I amd dying to have or need currently, so I can just save all those points up for later for new content, new quest packs and so forth…basically playing the rest of the game that comes out….FOR FREE.

  • One thing to add, maybe everyone already knows this…Once you get level 50 or whatever the mark is to start the moria content from the first expansion, you can buy the expansion and all the content is unlocked even for F2P players, same with mirkwood. You just have to get over the hump of leveling through the original content.

  • I wish Turbine nothing but the best in trying to make money and keep LoTRO going. If this is the way they choose to do it that is fine by me. Of course I wouldn’t mind if any company went even further with their business model. As Stephen Colbert would comment, “Let the free market decide”.

  • Do we have to keep having this pointless discussion?

    Yes, “Free to Play” is a poor descriptor. So is MMORPG. For historical reasons we’re stuck with them, unfortunately, at least until a new usage takes over. Bickering over whether “free” is “free” or “RPG” means “RPG” when it’s blindingly obvious that neither means either is such a waste of time, albeit a sporadically entertaining one.

    As MMO players we aren’t part of some kind of mutual society, anarcho-syndicalist commune or even members-only club. We are customers of small, medium-sized or large commercial service providers. We have the option to purchase or not to purchase and to express our views as customers to the management, but the decisions they take will be ones that profit them, not us.

    The organizations who run the games are businesses. They exist for one reason only: to make money for their owners/shareholders. Of course they will experiment with different pricing models, marketing strategies, loyalty programs and so on. That’s what retail businesses and service providers do!

    Really, how we pay for the games we play has to be about the least interesting thing about them.

  • @Bhagpuss: I disagree that we aren’t apart of a society. In fact, I do believe that those of us who have been doing this from the beginning have even moved into the realm of a culture.

    Perhaps this is indicative of my entire point (both in taking issue with the use of the M’s in MMO/MMORPG and the word “free”). To call us simply customers of service providers is in absolute contrast to how I view my own position in this “MMORPG culture”.

    Just the fact that you state we’re customers shows exactly why you’re fine with a free to play model. It shows exactly why you come across insensitive or ignorant to me and I come across overreacting or “pointless” to you.

    How we pay for games is interwoven into the very core of the games themselves. It affects how the company generates revenue which directly affects how they design the game. Subscription games are designed to keep people playing. “F2P” games are designed to get people to spend money. One time purchase games (like GW) are designed in their own way too. Sure seems interesting to me. If you can not see the difference between them then we’re in different leagues.

    This illusion of “Free to play” is attracting the “customers” like yourself. It’s attracting the ignorant and insensitive. By pretending to be making the same types of games or turning proper ones into mutations, it’s basically saying “Hello long time MMORPG fans, we see that your industry is profitable. We would like to change it to accommodate our way of doing business regardless of how it changes your games”.

    For a customer, I can see why it wouldn’t matter to you. For a dedicated member of this small yet established culture, it matters a great deal. If all of this didn’t affect me at all I wouldn’t care. It does affect me though. The nature of business crept in because of the “customers” feeding them without a care for quality. Now we have a cancer to deal with in the industry. In my opinion, we need to cut it out before it’s too late and the entire thing is mutated.

    Don’t over simplify it. I’ll defend and advocate for the games themselves and their quality forever. You go ahead and defend the price tag.

  • Developing a F2P game is like opening a deli that advertises “free sammiches!” with condiments, sides, drinks all extra.

    Guess what? Most are going to show up just to mooch for a free sammich and you’re gonna realize, “$#*% I’m not covering my expenses, I need to subsidize with mandatory charges on pretty much everything … or start charging for sammiches!”

    Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, developers! We want to play a good game and we want to pay for it!

  • Do we really want to pay for it? Who’s we? I have run across plenty of people who hate subscription fees with a passion. Are their opinions/purchasing dollars not relevant?

  • So where is your stance on the MMo industry that is already a pay 2 play model while then going out and introducing a micro transaction based store for in game items that sets that character apart from those that can’t afford the?

    Yes, I am talking about Warcraft and it’s store. How many of those celestial steeds have you seen? How many of the small pets have you seen once they became available?

    You said it right as the company needs to generate money to stay afloat and make money off the games they are allowing players to play. So what’s the diferrence in how Lotro does it compared to what WoW does with all the addicts that play that game? (yes, i do have an active WoW subscription)

    I see the Lotro model as an actual good model if I can’t afford to play for a few months due to finance problems or something else. Even with Warcraft, the Cataclysm additions doesn’t overtly excite me. Some of the crafting changes are nice, flying in Azeroth and such but the raids don’t hold much for me as I was never a big raider.

    So what if WoW all of a sudden allowed you free roam of Cataclysm by spending those Frost badges we all are hoarding over? How about “purchasing” parts of the xpac with tokens or badges instead of cash (or cash if you want it all)?

    I see this as what Lotro did. I hated the Lone Lands but I don’t have to buy the Lone Lands quest pack if I don’t plan on going there. Same with Angmar and the other areas. Getting to 50 is easy enough in a few of the zones and Lotro is letting me either pay cash to buy those packs of just play at my speed and get the points in game to head there when ready or able.
    I see one as “thanks for the cash…play or not we don’t care” and the other as “enjoy the game…pay for what you want/need..we are still here for you”.

    Lotro isn’t the only to see the benefit of this model…

  • Haha, while we’re on the subject what about the trading card game in SWG now. You have to pay $15/month to play, then you have to buy packs of cards hoping to get a uber rare loot card. Oh and dont forget that all of these items are not obtainable in game, or that the majority of new items are entering the game through this lottery rather than as actual game content.

  • @Poxus: This model is ONLY beneficial ECONOMICALLY to the players who want to dip their toes in the water.

    The crowd who say:
    “I like to pop in and see my friends every once in a while.”
    “What if I only want to play for 30 minutes a month?”
    “I can’t afford $15 a month.”

    In other words, the ultra casual and or “try-out’rs” and the people who never truly would have or intended to play the game anyway.

    For those who actually play the games — the core gamers — this is not only more expensive but it affects the ultimate end product/game. Yes, games designed to be subscription models are designed differently from free to play games (a different topic), hence the many changes LotRO is already receiving.

  • “For those who actually play the games — the core gamers — this is not only more expensive but it affects the ultimate end product/game.”

    I don’t see how in terms of Lotro…as I plan on coughing up the 10 per month to play. That grants me VIP status, and also gets me 500 points a month in Turbine Points.

    So…with the points I earn in game from deeds/traits and everything else…I can actually get more points than I really need as most of the core stuff (gold cap/bags/Trait slots) are unlocked. This just leaves Quest Packs to purchase, like the new content currently.

    Everyone that has been paying for Lotro for the past few months would have gotten enough points from Turbine to purchase the quest pack for this are and still have points left over. They will also make points off the deeds and other stuff in this area…

    I am not going to argue with you on who is right or wrong. You think it’s a bad model, I think it’s a working and somewhat good model. We are both privy to our own opinions about it.

  • Right… so LotRO is a great free to play model because you’re paying a subscription.

    You see what I’m saying? You’re needing to pay a subscription to the game for it to be worth it. Why not just leave it a susbcription?

    Ah, because of the “customer” crowd which I touched upon in comment #25.

  • I am paying because I want to, not because I have to.

    I had already planned on paying to go back and the same day I was going to do this, the F2P model was announced so I just waited.

    I could just take time to do the deeds and quests in areas for the would just take a little longer to get where I wanted to be.

  • @Poxus: You’re trying to connect LotRO’s shop with the Blizzard Store?

    I’m sorry, but that’s absurd.

    The LotRO shop sells actual game content. Let’s difine that, real quick.
    Content: n. significance or profundity.

    The LotRO shop sells areas, sells quests, sells entire story arcs. This is significant information that is absolutely relevant to the game world and the game’s mechanics.

    The Blizzard Store sells, as you said, Celestial Steeds and non-combat (fluff) pets. These are not significant in any way. The Celestial Steed is, for all intents and purposes, a new skin on an already existing mount mechanic. It does nothing to enhance the actual experience of the game, except to make you say, “ooh, aah, my horse is pretty.” And the pets are there for collectoholics. They don’t add to the game world, they don’t affect the stories being told within said world, nor do they affect the overall mechanics of the game. It’s fluffery, plain and simple.

    Now, how are these two shops the same? One sells fluffery and the other sells legitimate game content.

    I’ll save you the trouble: they’re not.

    As Keen has pointed out, the LotRO model, the “F2P” model is more beneficial to the casual gamer, and more expensive for the hard-core gamer. When Allods really started messing with their Cash Shop this fact became apparent immediately. People did the math to figure out how much they were going to have to spend every month, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of $45-65 a month to play the game as they would play a subscription-model game. That’s just insane.

    Conversely, a subscription fee is going to be better for the hardcore gamer, and less-beneficial to the casual gamer. However, even the casual gamer is going to put in at least a few hours every month. $15/month, if you put in 4 hours, that’s an hour a week, you’ve already spent less per hour than it costs to go to the movies and sit there for two hours. If you’re not willing to spend that much for that bit of entertainment every month, then don’t.

  • I think what many here are not understanding is its not simply about the billing model. Its about what a cash shop does to the direction of future development. Those of against them fear that it drives content away from whats just good for the game to what can we make the most profit with.

    Look at my example above for SWG, its seriously shocking to see how much more content their cash shop/lottery gets compared to actual in game content.

  • @Wren: Stated perfectly. I would only add that on top of content they sell power/ability/advancement/strength/a leg up/something that makes you better for having bought in the cash shop over someone who has not.

    @Sentry: Exactly. It determines future development in such a way that their mind is fixated upon making money, not making players happy with the game so that they’ll keep playing.

    It’s not what’s good for the game but good for immediate profits. I say immediate because, remember, F2P has higher turnover rates.

  • @Wren…you missed the rest of that comment where I talked about what would happen if Blizzard implemented other aspects…but whatever.

    My whole beef about “you must pay to have a decent game” attitude by some on here is what’s absurd. It’s not wanting to even try to move to something other than a paying monthly subscription.

    I think most here have a bad taste in their mouth from the whole Allods debacle and the term “Free” .

    Yep I am a casual player and so are a lot of the people that have played and are currently playing Lotro. So it works for me and those of us in the game.

  • Cool. If you admit you’re a casual player who just wants to dip their foot in the water then I have no interest in trying to convince you that the F2P model = inferior games. You won’t be playing the games deep or long enough or even care to notice.

    Btw, F2P were inferior games before Allods. Allods was just really late in implementing their cash shop. Without it, the game was fun.

    And yeah, we don’t want to move to a system that makes games worse by lining the pockets of corporations seeking to capitalize on their own laziness and lack of developing talent as well as banking on there being enough try-outers to get it done.

    I want to play quality games with a future. I’ll happily pay for it just as I happily pay for everything else in life that’s worth anything.

  • Honestly…what I get from all of this is that this is an infringement on your Hardcore status of playing a game versus something that benefits the casual system…as your post #30

    the whole Casual vs Hardcore debate is what this has popped up to be about.

    That’s enough from me…I’m off to play Lotro…for an undisclosed amount of time because I have been at this whole MMO genre for a long long time and have gone through changes like this before

  • APB still has the best system i’ve seen. You can easily earn your in game time. you can buy 30 days with RTW points which you can earn in game, spend RTW points on in game items (no cash shop other than for game time, its kind of a player run cash shop) II earned 3 months worth of free game time just for selling the “good” items I never used, which i earned during my play through.

  • Quoth Keen:
    “For those who actually play the games — the core gamers — this is not only more expensive but it affects the ultimate end product/game.”

    LOTRO’s model got screwed up because so much of the game’s content was in previously paid expansions that it was not possible to base the business model on selling access to existing content. For DDO, I would argue that neither of the above statements are true.

    The $180 a subscriber pays annually is significantly more than the cost of permanently unlocking everything behind the VIP paywall. As a result, any longterm player will ultimately spend less money by going “Premium Free To Play”. In fact, I’d argue that you have it exactly backwards on cost – the model hits someone who comes to the game, pays, and does NOT decide to stay a lot harder than the long time player because the player who never comes back does not get any value out of the fact that they *could*.

    Now yes, DDO has focused on the low level game to the detriment of the neglected middle and high levels for the first year of its re-launch, so that has “affected the ultimate product”. The alternative was for the development budget to be slashed to next to nothing for lack of revenue, which would have ultimately led to the game being closed altogether. At least this way the longtime players still have their servers, and are even getting optional scaled up versions of the new low level content for max level characters. Turbine claims that all of the future content currently in development is aimed at the higher levels. If they can deliver on that, I suspect that very few longtime players will make a serious argument that the net effect on the game was negative.

  • I’d like to agree with Keen. Item-shops incentivise the management of a game to do things that make a game less enjoyable. History is prove.

    If you just want to spend some 30 minutes, get out of my game! I do not want to play with you! Just as I would not want to play soccer against somebody who leaves after 5 minutes.

    Conclusion: We need market segmentation.

  • Has anyone added up the costs for buying the content like it is for the $10 a month folks? How much is it?

  • Advertising is a lie. Welcome to the capitalist West, Keen. May I introduce you to rampant consumerism and a greed-based society?

  • False advertising is a lie. Good advertising highlights the actual strengths and appeal of a product. They could be advertising “Pay for what you want” or taken a much more honest approach. Their ads could have targeted some of the people who commented here in a more honest way. Even those defending the model here have paid money — even they know it’s a lie.

  • “I want to play quality games with a future. I’ll happily pay for it just as I happily pay for everything else in life that’s worth anything.”

    Nowadays I would say you are in the minority. Look at all the companies that have factories over in China so they can make stuff cheaper. The majority of people want cheap stuff. In the small town where I live we have 6 Dollar Stores, where everything is a $1. Plus a Wal-Mart. Why? Because people nowadays want cheap.

  • Keen, I’m not coming to this discussion as a “F2P” booster, as you appear to think. I’ve been paying my subscriptions for over ten years. I’m currently paying around $750 a year in subs to MMOs. Subscriptions are fine.

    My point is that, whether I am a Subscriber or a F2P player, I am first and foremost a customer. As a customer, I’m in favor of companies giving me a product that I want at a price I can afford. From my perspective, F2P is mostly good news for a very simple reason. Most free-to-play models include almost all of my normal Subscription gameplay in the “free” part.

    I don’t use most high-end content. I don’t raid. I do very little PvP. I pay my $15 a month and I potter about with low-level characters, doing some light roleplay and decorating my house if I get one. I play dozens and dozens of characters across many MMOs, frequently repeating content I like over and over again. I have many thousands of hours of this type of gameplay racked up now, at the cost of many thousands of dollars (well, pounds, to be strictly accurate).

    There is very little that I want to do in MMOs that isn’t present in the “free” part of the games I’ve tried. The payment model does not, in my now quite considerable experience, affect my gameplay in any significant way. It does, however, affect my opportunity to play lots of different MMOs, which I would otherwise not be able to afford to do.

    My point about the discussion being “pointless” was really that in discussing anything that one likes, the cost of it is usually the least interesting part. I take your point that which payment model the industry adopts will have consequences, but I simply don’t believe the industry will, in the end, adopt any one particular payment model. We will have a wide choice and there will be enough options to suit everyone.

    It’s going to be a win-win situation. There will be wholly subscription-funded games, wholly microtransaction-funded games and every possible combination and variation inbetween. It’s really just not going to be a problem.

  • Keen, I don’t know about you, but every ad I read/see/hear is almost universally a half-truth at the very best, with the actual whole truth somewhere where you can’t hear it/see it.

    Besides, from a purely technical standpoint the adventure (i.e. the storyline qusts which are basically the only adventure in LOTRO) is totally free.

    Besides the point, I’m a life subber and I honestly couldn’t care less. I genuinely could not give a shit how it’s advertised; I’m far more concerned by the fact that LOTRO f2p hasn’t even been RELEASED for the backward, technically super challenging Europe.

  • @Bhagpuss: And that’s how it should be. There should be free to play games and there should be subscription games. There should be a very distinct line drawn.

    Unfortunately, there’s this sense from the “customer” crowd or the crowd that loves “free to play” games that ALL MMO’s should be “Free to play”. Unfortunately (again), the F2P crowd is bigger (duh) and that often puts dollar signs in the eyes of investors/corporate.

    Quantity =/= quality, yet people are pushing hard for F2P to become the “primary” model (Which it is NOT yet).

    I say: “Leave our way alone”. Let me have my hobby the way I like it. You can have yours the way you want. As soon as you try to impose upon mine, your way becomes my enemy. And that’s what has happened. F2P has become an enemy to me, others like me, and my way of gaming. It hasn’t respected the boundaries — it’s crossed them. Like I said previously, it has become a cancer for the subscription model.

    @Dril: Lucky Europeans.

  • I feel for you , I really do. You really loved playing LOTRO I take it.

    “Let me have my hobby the way I like it”
    “As soon as you try to impose upon mine, your way becomes my enemy. And that’s what has happened.”

  • I’ve been catching up on your blog after a 2 year absence.

    It seems to me like you’ve gotten a lot more frustrated with mmo’s since then. I guess one can only take so many stabs in the back and broken promises.

    But there is greatness out there yet. I’m confident that we’re going to see some drastic upheavals in the next ten years.

    But back to subject, I personally get an instinctive cringe when I hear “Free-to-play”. I know it’s not always bad, and that there are good ways of going about it, by people with good intentions. But it doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.

  • Nice to see you again Hobo. I do remember you.

    As for the future, I already know 2011 will be a good year — especially for the subscription model.

    2012 and 2013 are also looking like good years.

    I’ve said it before though: We’re going to see a crash soon. This industry/genre is going to buckle under the weight of crap building up.

  • A sad truth is that people will tolerate any busted system so long as they don’t have to pay money for it. Most non-sub F2P systems are just busted in terms of grind and restrictions, and are worse experiences than sub games.

    However it just doesn’t matter. The pirate culture (which F2P arose to counter) wants free.

  • Oddly, my girlfriend who designs knitwear patterns deals with the same thing in a way. There are so many hobbyist designers that are willing to give their work away for free, that it fuels this attitude that “I don’t need to pay, so why should I?” It makes it very difficult for anyone who wants to design higher quality, time-consuming patterns that simply can’t be given away.

    A similar thing happens to a degree in writing – SF and Fantasy, particularly – though it’s sort of working in reverse. Amateur writers desperate to say they’ve had something published will sell their work for peanuts, and drive down pay rates for everyone.

    Unfortunately once a large group of people in a market start devaluing a product by insisting it be as cheap as possible, the options for those who are willing to pay for quality – or those or want to make a quality product and charge more to recoup their work – become limited.

    As I’ve said before, I think the only real hope that game design has for real innovation and high quality, boutique design is in the indy game market. There you can really afford to make the game you want, rather than trying to churn out another conservative AAA hit that needs to be everything to everyone.

    Eventually we’ll start seeing indy MMOs, but I think it will still be quite a few years before the technology is cheap enough to make that possible.

  • @sisyphean- your example with the knit patterns as well as the mmo market fall neatly into the basics of supply and demand. As you said yourself “there are so many hobbyist designers”. Theres your problem, too much supply, so price goes down.

    Same can be said for the mmo market to an extent. The casual F2P crowd have a much larger demand(at least in the eyes of mmo makers) than those of us who prefer the subscription model. So they make games and change models to cater to their perceived demand.

  • Keen,

    Back in the day, with pen and paper DnD, if you didnt buy a copy of the Slavelords modules, you didnt get to play them.

    Likewise, if you didnt buy a copy of Cults of Prax, you didnt get various cool spells and cults in your RQ2 game.

    Today, if I dont buy a copy of the Lonelands, I dont get to play it in LOTRO.

    Today, if I dont buy race pack X, I dont get to play them in EQ2X.

    This is what Keen calls “an enemy to me”.

    My main MMO is DDO. I have access, as long as the servers stay up, to pretty much all of the low-level content and some of the midlevel content. But I play Permadeath mostly, so I have no need for Gianthold and so on. I bought this content partly by free Turbine points, and partly by giving Turbine cash.

    I am going to play LOTRO, and rather than pay a retailer $50 for a boxed game with discs in it, like I did with WoW, I will download it for free. I will then sling Turbine some money for more content and meander my way around Middle Earth roleplaying.

    I currently play EQ2X, and when I get the prepaid credit card to pay Turbine for LOTRO, I’ll sling SOE ten bucks for an extra character slot, the better spells and a bank slot. If they sell me the ability to equip top end gear by the piece, I’ll probably buy some of those tokens for when I become a (very) casual raider.

    I never paid a monthly subscription to TSR, and I never paid a monthly subscription to Chaosium, and I never paid a monthly subscription to GDW.

    But when they issued a new product I liked – even a “fluff” product like Library Data L-Z – I bought it.

    It’s just like old times really.

  • @Ian – Your comparison to source books for d20 games is close to what Turbine is doing, though I might argue that it’s more like, “Oh, you want the Equipment chapter of your Player’s Handbook? $10, please.”

    “Oh, you want the Spells chapter? $8 please.”

    They’re not taking out ‘fluff’ so much as they are chopping up existing parts of a game that otherwise is not complete. So long as you have the Core Rulebooks (Player’s Guide, Monster Manual, and DM Guide) you have a complete game and can play in a near-infinite number of games in different realms and gameplay worlds. If you want to buy their additional source books, that simply adds to the experience. If you don’t buy the missing areas in LotRO, you’re missing out on part of the overall world. You also don’t have to pay TSR or WotC in order to have a 20th level character, or to use the ‘easy path’ exp table in your rulebook. If you want to, in LotRO, you can buy powerups, and buy a lot of things that will unbalance your character in respect to all the characters who do not buy things.

    This is one of Keen’s major points. It’d be like slipping the DM a $20 in exchange for you going up a level or getting some piece of equipment you can’t quite afford just yet. It’s just not good gaming.

  • I’m a little late to the party, but…

    I’m not sure where this $15 a month is coming from as for VIP subscription fee. I pay about $9 a month. Maybe it’s lower for long term customers.

    Sorry if someone already said this, but I think the free to play includes breeland quest packs. If so, you can get to about lvl 25 with these, but you will have to stay around bree. I’m assuming these include barrow downs, but maybe not.

    Now, the descriptor is “free to PLAY”. Not “free to buy”. People made assumptions that it would also be free to purchase and are now upset about it. Did they purposely let it be misconstrued? Maybe. And it still is free to play. Just because it didn’t meet your expectations or hopes doesn’t make it a lie.

    I think the people who are playing for free are just doing so until SWTOR, FFXIV, and Cataclysm come out and so they likely don’t care anyway. All the advice and ooc channels talk is what leads me to believe this. So will they eventually subscribe? No. They’ll just make a ton of alts on various servers, goof off and talk about how awesome blizzard is.

  • @Wren
    I think part of the equation you are missing is that if you want that content that was chopped up, go do some of your Deeds and Traits that you are going to need to have done for end game raids anyways.

    395 points for Lone Lands to get you past level 25 is NOTHING. That comes so easy you dont even have to think about it. Once you make it to Lone Lands, the amount of Deeds and Traits double that you have tons of stuff to do that will get you the points you need to level higher and get the next content pack.

    Most of the people are so adamant about leveling as fast as you can to reach end game you just focus on what you have to buy to get there instead of what you could do by slowing down a little.

  • Wren,

    You mean like all the cool weapons in Traveller, which were not in the Basic Game of Books1-3, but were rather in Book 5 “Mercenary” ?

    Or maybe, I dont know, any of the GURPS expansions.

    This “pay us $15 a month every month and you get Rest XP” – yes, I agree thats disgusting cheating and to be deplored.

  • The pure stupidity surrounding the “F2P” discussions over the years pretty much sums up why teacher’s unions have destroyed public education in America.

    Bottom line: Companies make more money with F2P for their target demographic than they do with a subscription model. I’ve never seen a “F2P” game that I’d actually play without spending money on their cash shop. Which is fine, but in EVERY single case, resulted in me paying out FAR more than a typical $15/month subscription fee. Which makes sense if you’re not completely stupid. When you don’t have a flat rate, you have to gouge the payers to cover the expenses to allow those who don’t pay to play.

    It saddens me that this seems to be more and more the future of games, though again, makes perfect sense from an accounting point of view.

    Now, I don’t actually play any F2P games as my opinion is that 100% of them suck. I thought LotRO sucked even when it cost $15/month with the goofiest running animation in a “Triple A” title ever combined with hippy-love fest armor coloring schemes set in a happy-huggy environment completely at odds with my view of what Middle Earth should be like. Making the game “F2P” might get far more people to play the game they didn’t think was worth $15/month to play…but isn’t that just a sad indictment on how one has developed the game? Too bad they don’t try to make the game better rather than taking the cheap road and making it cheaper to grab more flash in the pan players.

    Just my two cents.

  • “I am going to play LOTRO, and rather than pay a retailer $50 for a boxed game with discs in it, like I did with WoW, I will download it for free. I will then sling Turbine some money for more content and meander my way around Middle Earth roleplaying.”

    That’s exactly what I have been doing. I’ve been eagerly awaiting LotRO going FTP, because I can’t really justify paying 2 subs every month, but the “pay as you go” model is great. And contrary to Keen’s bemoaning, I haven’t seen any proof of the community going downhill, though I guess I am one of those filthy “new people”. On the contrary, the lower zones are packed full of people, and I see roleplaying everywhere. I’m having enough fun to actually reconsider keeping my WoW sub, especially having seen my faction get shafted once again with the lack of a mount.

  • I’m going to have to take offense to the bloggers position on one thing. We can disagree on plenty, but since you’re comfortable with the phrase “bold-faced lie” then I’m going to apply that term to your claim that “free” is only til level 10. What person hits Lone-lands at level 10? What person hits North Downs at level 10? Maybe the most hardcore powerleveller ever to exist… Surely not me! I was close to 100 hours in before I hit the “you must buy this area” and decided to VIP. And as others have said before, this suits *MANY* different types of play-styles, and, overall, I’m mostly okay with it. And let’s get one thing straight… it’s *DEFINITELY* helping Turbine out financially. You want Rohan? You want Gondor? You want Mordor? Well guess what… they need money.

    Now you can have the “I’ll play 30 hours a week” players mixing with the “I’ll play 5 hours a week” players. Before, 15 bucks a month was *ALL* you had to choose from. Casual players paid just as much as hardcore players… and now we have more options. As a F2P-turned-VIP… I love the new model. And I’m pretty sure many of the thousands of new players appreciate it too.

    Also… Drew is an idiot… why do morons insist on bringing politics into everything? Sheesh.

  • Oh, I must add tho, I love most of the rest of the stuff on this blog/guide… I have it bookmarked for a reason. Just wanted to publicly counter the “level 10 is the end of free” statement that I found insanely ridiculous, that’s all 🙂

  • @yonder – To be fair, if you look back at the initial statement carefully, it was not stated emphatically level 10 as an absolute limit, since immediately following it was asked for a confirmation as to the limit for free play.
    Further along, it is mentioned getting to level 25 with free play (so obviously 10 was way too low) – I’ve been playing totally for free (never having a Premium or VIP account) and am at level 26 currently and still going strong. I still want too see how far one can go for free (before resorting to only grinding). The new additions in the Nov. patch (once live) should carry me even further up.

  • Have to say, I’ve just rejoined after being a long time player and then going absent for about 1 year, maybe more, that’s it looks and feels very polished.

    I’ve yet to experience in-game angst with the F2P model (currently level 20). I have some creeping doubts, but I won’t cast any judgment until I’ve attempted it.

    Just saying, try it out and see if it’s for you. You really don’t need to spend any money.

  • Now at level 28 (never been VIP or Premium) and looking forward to level 35 and beyond with the new free content. The people at LOTRO have been very generous with this latest update – I had expected any additional content to be only for Premium and VIP/lifetime players.

  • “There will be immense player turnover from this, but that’s how this model works. Turbine knows that. If they can get a ton of people to spend $5 then that’s already better than having a few people spend $15. That might be “good business” but that’s not good game management.

    “The Adventure is Free” <– That is a bold-faced lie. Stop eating it up."

    You seem to be about the only one that doesnt understand the model; its designed to introduce new players to the game at low or no cost. Its basically a form of advertising intended to draw in new players. Turbine never claimed that they were giving everything away for free and there is no reason for you to leap to that conclusion. Immense turnover? Maybe, maybe not, but at least the new players tried the game where they wouldnt have before.