LOTRO: Free-to-Play


In my inbox this morning. Excellent news. Turbine's going to take over the world. I spent a day with the team there last month, and I'm happy to answer any questions if people are curious what this actually means



Turbine’s Award-winning Online Game Will Be Free-to-Play Worldwide This Fall

BURBANK, CA – June 3, 2010 – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that Turbine, Inc. will unveil a major update this fall, making The Lord of the Rings Online™ (LOTRO) free-to-play for everyone. Extending its award-winning story, LOTRO delivers the ultimate adventure featuring a massive world with state-of-the-art graphics and gameplay, and a rich set of features that until now could only be found in premium subscription-based online games.

Launching this fall across North America and Europe, with Codemasters operating the game free-to-play in Europe, LOTRO will introduce Turbine’s innovative new pricing model that allows players to download the game and play for free, purchase expansions, quest packs, items, and account services a la carte from the new LOTRO Store, or join the VIP program to get unlimited access to all of the game’s content for one low price. Players interested in getting a sneak peek of the new LOTRO can sign up for a chance to participate in the Beta program which begins June 16, 2010 at http://www.lotro.com.

“Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is bringing quality games based on The Lord of the Rings to multiple platforms, and the franchise’s expansive adventure story lends itself perfectly for LOTRO free-to-play, giving a wide range of players the opportunity to experience the game,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President Online Games and Digital Games Platforms, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “We are focused on expanding our game franchises onto new digital platforms to maximize quality experiences for gamers worldwide and LOTRO’s new model is a great leading example of this.”

“Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™ was the world’s first truly premium free-to-play online game that ushered in a new era of choice for online gamers seeking quality entertainment,” said Jim Crowley, President and CEO of Turbine. “The popularity of DDO validated the extraordinary demand by gamers for quality entertainment they can experience at their own pace and within their budget. Extending free-to-play to LOTRO will offer another premium game to a broad spectrum of fans.”

“Having successfully taken two titles free-to-play in the past we are very pleased to be doing the same with The Lord of the Rings Online in Europe,” said David Solari, Vice President and General Manager of Codemasters Online. “It’s a fantastic, award-winning game with a wonderfully realized world and this step will only broaden its appeal and increase its player base.”

LOTRO will offer players unlimited choice!

Ø Free means Free! – Players will download LOTRO by visiting www.lotro.com and join with millions of other adventurers as they explore the most complete and authentic recreation of Middle-earth ever created and participate in LOTRO’s award-winning epic story up to level 50 for free.

Ø Visit the new LOTRO Store! -- The LOTRO Store is loaded with thousands of convenience items as well as expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions, character customization and more! The LOTRO Store is seamlessly integrated into the game and lets the player identify new and exciting ways to enhance and customize their experience using points which can be purchased in the store or earned through gameplay.

Ø Be a LOTRO VIP! – Players who elect to become a LOTRO VIP will have unlimited access to all premium content, receive priority server access, 5 character slots, a shared bank slot, and a monthly allotment of points to spend in the new LOTRO Store.

The Lord of the Rings Online is the ultimate adventure. This award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game delivers an interactive experience brimming with life and filled with the familiar people, places and monsters from the most famous fantasy of all time. From the picturesque surroundings of the Shire to Moria, the most fearsome underground realm ever imagined, players will soon experience the world of Middle-earth for free! For more information, visit www.lotro.com.

About Turbine
Turbine, Inc. is a premier creator and operator of massive, persistent online worlds that foster powerful social gaming communities. Turbine is wholly owned by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and has created some of the world’s most popular and award-winning online games, including The Lord of the Rings Online™, Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, and Asheron's Call®. For more information on Turbine, its products and services please visit www.turbine.com.

About Middle-earth Enterprises
The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises f/k/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC), is the holder of worldwide motion picture, legitimate stage, merchandising, and other rights in the literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. SZC has been producing and licensing films, stage productions and merchandise based on the Tolkien works for more than 30 years. Its headquarters are located in Berkeley, California and its Middle-earth Enterprises website may be found at www.middleearth.com.

About Codemasters
Codemasters is a leading developer and publisher of best-selling interactive entertainment products for a global audience across multiple gaming platforms and channels. Established in 1986, the company’s dominant brands include Colin McRae DiRT, Race Driver GRID, Overlord and Operation Flashpoint; the company recently secured the exclusive worldwide video game rights to FORMULA 1. Codemasters is headquartered in Warwickshire UK, with North American operations based in Universal City, California. The company also maintains operations in Germany, France, Spain, Benelux and Malaysia. Codemasters receives over two million visitors to its web site every month, discover why at www.codemasters.com.

About Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, is a premier worldwide publisher, developer, licensor and distributor of entertainment content for the interactive space across all current and future platforms, including console, handheld and PC-based gaming for both internal and third party game titles.

# # #

THE LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE™ interactive video game © 2010 Turbine, Inc. and patents pending. All rights reserved. Middle-earth Poster Map © 2007 The Saul Zaentz Company, d/b/a Middle-earth Enterprises f/k/a Tolkien Enterprises (SZC), under license to Turbine, Inc. All rights reserved. “The Lord of the Rings Online”, “Siege of Mirkwood”, Middle-earth Enterprises logo, “The Lord of the Rings” and the names of the characters, events, items and places therein are trademarks or registered trademarks of SZC under license to Turbine, Inc. Turbine and the Turbine logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Turbine, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

I'm...unsure about this. Going to wait for more details before saying anything more.

While I'm supportive of new pricing plans to provide more options for players to meet their level of playtime (like the recent price plans for APB) I'm just as wary about it falling into a nickle & dime-ing to death level of micro-payments.

That being said, I've heard alot of good things about how Turbine is handling the F-to-P for D&D Online and if they follow along that route it should turn out fine. I really should try D&D Online for myself just to see an example of how that integrated store works out.

Still, some questions remain:
- What does this mean for current subscribers? Is the VIP access similar to the monthly fee we are paying?

- What's going to happen to future expansions. We haven't even touched Rohan or Gondor yet. Will those areas only be for VIP users and how much would it be?

- Just how miffed are the Lifetime account owners going to be?

This could ruin me. I'm a huge LOTR dork and have avoided LOTR Online because I knew it would consume my life and I hate committing to monthly fees, which is why I don't play MMOs. And Company of Heroes is coming online, too. I don't have that kind of free time, dammit!

My understanding is that you can still pay a monthly fee, and you'll get access to all the content (won't have to pay to unlock anything) and you'll get a stipend of points every month for stuff. Lifetime members get that forever.

Expansions will be sold, I gather, like Mirkwood was -- as a low-dollar digital-only expansion. I think Mirkwood was $20.

I can say that the net result of this is MORE resources going into LOTRO, not LESS, so you should continue to see solid content. I think most DDO players have been super happy with this move.

This is great news for me. I love LOTRO and I keep coming back to it but I'm becoming increasingly reluctant to pay monthly fees. The free to play games are increasing in quality and I have no problem staying away from the cash stores. I may not be their ideal consumer but they're my ideal model of gaming.

As someone that doesn't have a subscription, I am pretty happy about this. I have done about 3 free trials for the game since launch and always enjoyed it, but most of my friends, and my wife, play WoW. Going free to play gives me a chance to dabble at my own leisure without paying a subscription fee and if I enjoy the game to level 50, I would definitely support them by paying for the additional expansion content.

I guess I'll be trying LOTRO out (while hoping that EQ2 soon adopts something similar).

Hasn't LOTRO had a steadily rising subscription rate since it was released? I thought MMOs only go the free route when they are struggling for money.

Hey, suddenly I'm interested in this game!

Didn't they sell lifetime subscriptions for this? If I bought one of those, I'd be pissed. Then again, I bought a lifetime subscription to Hellgate: London...

Hmm, so I wonder if it will be any cheaper for existing subscribers with max level toons. The free to play part seems to go up to level 50, while the current cap is 65, and I would guess that the next purchasable expansion will raise that at least 5 more levels. /Ponder

I also worry what this will mean for the games PvMP zone, the Ettenmoors. Currently the monster players (creeps) are largely dominant on most of the servers, and as you only need a level 10 toon to create a creep I fear that this will permanently unbalance the Moors.

*Existing subscribers will get the following perks if they maintain their accounts until this launches:

# Eligible Subscribers will automatically receive 500 free Turbine Points for each completed calendar month they remain eligible. This limited point grant starts on June, 1st 2010 and continues until the first day of the month that LOTRO Free-to-Play becomes available to the general public ("Launches").
# In addition, Eligible Subscribers will receive 500 free Turbine Points at launch of LOTRO Free-to-Play for each LOTRO anniversary (April 24) that has elapsed since they first joined LOTRO, up to a maximum of 1,500 Turbine Points.
# Eligible Subscribers who opted for the Founders program at the original launch of LOTRO will receive an additional 500 free Turbine Points.
# Eligible Subscribers who are Lifetime members will also receive an additional 1,000 free Turbine Points.
# Free Turbine Points will be automatically credited into the player’s account and will be made available for use in the LOTRO Free-to-Play Store after the launch of the LOTRO Free-to-Play service.

I bought a lifetime sub, and I'm happy to hear this. I got more than my money's worth out of the deal, we should see an expansion of the player base, and I get free points every month for the lifetime of the game. What's not to like?

I'm a bit torn about this actually. On one hand, I'm thrilled because this will expand the pllayer base and practically guarantee that LoTRO remains a viable MMO. I'm also excited for the cheap ass gamers who will finally be able to see what a wonderful game this is.

On the other hand, well, I'm annoyed that I splurged for a lifetime membership, and I feel like this devalues that purchase now. Yes, I'll get perks, but in a way I feel like I dropped a couple of Franklins for just perks now. Also, the expanded player base is also a potential negative. The smaller, more mature player base in LoTRO has always felt like an exclusive "in" club, and RPing was always more welcome here (or at least tolerated more) compared to WoW. While I welcome more players, the concurrent influx of asshats could really cheapen the immersion experience into Middle Earth. I hope I'm wrong about this.


So the main LoTRO site now has this page: http://www.lotro.com/betasignup/

Which has a FAQ and info for folks already subscribing.

It looks like the level cap is tied to which expansions you have purchased. So if I am reading this correctly, you can play for free and be at level cap if you have purchased all of the expansions.

And as for my worry about Monster Play, it is disabled for those who are not VIP members. So, VIP will cost?

I see this move as preparation for the Old Republic, Turbine must foresee a disturbance in their future player base.

My understanding is that you can still pay a monthly fee, and you'll get access to all the content (won't have to pay to unlock anything) and you'll get a stipend of points every month for stuff. Lifetime members get that forever.

Just to be 100% clear, current lifetime members get the "VIP" perks forever without paying any additional amount of money (other than future expansions, I suppose)?

Well that's sounding better. More resources to finally getting around to those expansions would be great. Would be nice to know what those Turbine Points would really count for. Yet another reason I should try out D&DO just to get a feel of what Turbine is trying to do.

I wonder how they would feel about me keeping my sub till the launch of the free-to-play to get the points then drop it. I've been playing LOTRO on and off for the last 2 years and I've got 3 alts, thus I'm no where even near the level cap of 50. I could live off those points for a year, if I even have a need to use them at all.

I think this is a great move on Turbines behalf. I've signed up for the beta, and my lifetime sub keeps me happy. A great decision as I personally think it was needed.

zeroKFE wrote:
My understanding is that you can still pay a monthly fee, and you'll get access to all the content (won't have to pay to unlock anything) and you'll get a stipend of points every month for stuff. Lifetime members get that forever.

Just to be 100% clear, current lifetime members get the "VIP" perks forever without paying any additional amount of money (other than future expansions, I suppose)?

It appears so, as long as you continue to play. From the FAQ re: lifetime subscribers:

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

Well, then I have no problem with it if it means I get to eventually run around in a fully realized version of the fields of Rohan.

Hells yeah. This is great news. I have friends who didn't want to deal with a subscription who I will certainly now be able to convince to try this wonderful game!

All I care about is that the game continues to be successful, and that they continue with the absolutely AMAZING world design that they've done so far.

Very handy thread over at the LoTRO forums with answers to what is currently known.

This was a great move for DDO, so I can't see how it'll be bad for LOTRO. At the very least, I'll be jumping back into Middle Earth this fall for a few weeks.

rabbit wrote:

I spent a day with the team there last month, and I'm happy to answer any questions

Can you get me free LOTRO points?

cool. I will finally be able to try this game.

Falchion wrote:

- Just how miffed are the Lifetime account owners going to be?

LobsterMobster wrote:

Hey, suddenly I'm interested in this game!

Didn't they sell lifetime subscriptions for this? If I bought one of those, I'd be pissed. Then again, I bought a lifetime subscription to Hellgate: London...

I am a lifetime subscriber (also a founder) and have been hoping this would happen since DDO added a F2P option.

This will allow me to setup accounts for my daughters and play with them without having to pay for two additional account. It will also potentially attract more of my friends to play once in a while.

Like the DDO F2P option, there will be limitations, so I think this will enhance LOTRO for me, not detract from it.

This is the best thing ever. It is time to try to get some friends together for a weekly adventuring group.

If there was ever a game to do a weekly adventuring group in, THIS WOULD BE THAT GAME.

Truly a wonderful world Turbine created - for anyone starting out, spend some quality time in the Shire after cranking up the graphics on your video card.

I wonder if we get any additional character slots for purchasing expansions? I bought Moria so its good that I will get the runekeeper and warden classes but 3 character slots is so very tiny.

Now, if they'd only make like Valve and release a Mac client...

The GWJ community once again shows how awesome it is. It's very cool that people are keeping an open mind or are actively excited for the F2P launch. You guys rock.

As an avid player of DDO after it went F2P, I'm totally psyched about this announcement. Now my only problem will be deciding what to play, DDO or LOTRO.

This is cool. I like LOTRO but couldn't justify a monthly sub after a while. I would always hop in during the free weekends and play a bit.

Maybe I'll finally finish Moria now!

I'll be looking into this. I played a trial years ago and wasn't too keen on it. I can't remember why, though. Definitely worth a second look.