Public Service Asides

A few quick notes before the weekend.

The biggest news on the MMO scene is, of course, that Lord of the Rings Online is now “free-to-play.”  People of all station are arguing over whether it actually is free-to-play because – now make sure your sitting down if you are reading this on a mobile device – eventually Turbine will want players spend money if they want to continue playing through the content by at the minimum buying content packs.  Shocking, I know.  I, myself, thought Turbine was becoming a gamer charity organization.

My two-bit review of the pricing so far is: the cost of content and vanity items seems pretty fair, while the cost of luxury buff items, especially temporary ones, seems a bit high.  I spent roughly $2-3 buying a skill that now lets my Captain warp to Rivendell once an hour.  It would’ve cost me about a $1 to buy a one-time-use warp to Rivendell.  Like any vast cash shop with everything from housing items to hour-long buffs, it has its ups and downs.   If you intend on trying this game out, head to Landroval if you can, where all the cool kids are.

Another small thing is that Guild Wars 2 beta scams are becoming pretty prevalent.  Some scam sites are even advertising in Google, and they look pretty professional with solid URLs and ArenaNet art assets.  I have an eye half-cocked at ArenaNet for not having something more definitive on their site about a beta.  They have an answer to the question of a beta in their FAQ, but with the huge amount of attention they garnered in the past few months, I think a beta placeholder page is now warranted.  Anyway, nothing less than either an ArenaNet blog announcement or guildwars2.com site update is going to pass as official for a beta announcement.  So beware, ye Guild Wars 2 fans.

–Ravious

24 thoughts on “Public Service Asides”

    1. The UI leaves some to be desired. If the search doesn’t work, go to the last page in the category with the consumable ports, then click the right-arrow… there are actually more pages than the numbers show.

    2. I found the “Return to _____” skills after all the maps. They’re actually on sale today (or maybe yesterday). ;P There are the 4 racial ones and then also new ones for Mirkwood and Enedwaith.

  1. We’ll be lucky if LotRO in the EU goes F2P by the end of September. Codemasters are in no hurry, apparently.

    The upside is that there’s supposedly no IP blocking on the U.S. F2P so I’ll be making an account there over the weekend so as not to miss all the new shiny fun. I’ll be back when Codemasters finally get their act together to pick up on my old characters and my accrued Turbine points though.

    Or will I?

  2. Am I the only one turned off from LotRO by the F2P system? I’ve been waiting for a sizable content update to bring my characters back to life but now not even a Moria sized expansion would bring me back around.

    1. I’m sure you aren’t. My experiences are the opposite. I know a good dozen people thrilled by this change and nobody turned off by it.

    2. Well in addition to the tweaks and subtle improvements that came with the update, there is a whole new region (Enedwaith) and a really good Epic Book update. And if you have a Captain they got a very thorough tune-up.

  3. I’m planning (if time permits, ha ha) to take a look at this new LOTRO now that there’s no cover charge and girls get a free beer until 1 am. We’ll see how it goes.

    It’d be interesting to see how it pairs up to DDO as it’s F2P-ized. Seems (completely a priori) that DDO transitioned more or less well largely because of how modular it was to begin with. In comparison, LOTRO had always been a huge chunk. We’ll see how well it tastes when it’s sliced, and I’m wondering now if some of the bad comments I’ve been reading are ultimately rooted on this.

    I’ve read in at least three different places how the LOTRO store seems to be nickel and diming people a bit too much in comparison to the DDO store. But I guess we’ll see.

  4. The main disagreement some people seem to have is the perception that if they bought the box, they own the rights to all the content they could previously access.

    Being asked to pay a fee to unlock previously available quest content is somehow traumatizing to their psyches.

    Except they’ve forgotten that privilege of access was previously tied to a monthly sub, and that you don’t ever actually own any of “your” virtual property on the game company’s servers.

    Looks like the concept of who exactly owns a piece of software is also getting debated elsewhere (link from Tobold’s blog):
    http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/first-sale-doctrine/

  5. Been playing a bit today.

    I find it delightfully ironic/disgusting/WTFish that I had bought the Moria expansion back when it came out, had a sub going for a couple of months, and I can still get in there just fine and nothing is locked.

    Then I go to Angmar, which I had also obviously bought since it was launch content, had a sub going for many, many more months and I get Turbine symbols for quests here and there.

    I can understand old timers feeling a bit dicked over.

    1. Oh, and what is it with bags? The couple of original old time characters I checked have their five bags and all is fine. Then I roll a new one and there’s only three bag slots there and they want me to pony up for more?

      Am I missing something here?

      1. Actually I’m surprised that your old guys have all their bags, given that you’re not a subscriber and didn’t pay to unlock them. ;-P Bonus 4 you!

        Re: “feeling dicked over” as someone posted above (and as someone keeps having to post again and again and again) keep in mind how much content you had access too without paying a sub before the switch.

        Then /facepalm.

        1. I just wish things made more sense.

          As it is now (and this could very well be a bug for all I know) some of my characters have 5 bag slots, some have 3. Having to pay for bag slots in a game that pretty much goes out of its way to fill your bags with a zillion items does leave a bit of a sour taste.

          And I think whatever rationalization we can come up with regarding who had access to what and for how much is still going to meet a wall of dissatisfaction regarding having to pay to open up pre-expansion(s) quests.

          I’m sorry, but:

          Bought SoA, paid for a few months: Have to pay to unlock it
          Bought Moria, paid for a few months: Don’t have to pay to unlock it

          … doesn’t make a lick of sense, really.

          1. The characters with 5 bag slots existed while you had a sub and thus got some of the VIP unlocks applied to them. Downgrading does not remove things like bag slots. New characters are not created under the VIP status and therefore do not have the same unlocks.

            Agree it is confusing. I can’t even pretend to understand which content is included and which is not.

          2. And here is a little quote from Sapience on the LOTRO forums:

            If you are no longer subscribed you will need to purchase the Shadows of Angmar content packs for regions beyond Bree, The Shire, and Ered Luin.

            Your original purchase was based on paying a monthly subscription for access to all content. If you resubscribe you will once again have full access. If you do not subscribe you still retain access to the low level starting areas, but must purchase access to other areas.

            Your expansion pack purchases for Moria and Mirkwood should still allow you to access that content provided your characters are high enough level.

            And some from Patience:

            You did not purchase the SOA content; if you did, you wouldn’t have ever had to pay a subscription fee.

            If you dropped your subscription before we introduced the Free-to-Play option, you could not access that content (or any content at all). If you subscribe now, just as before, you have full access to that content and nothing has changed. If you choose NOT to subscribe, now instead of having no access to any of it, you have access to some of it and can still log in and play; and in fact, as a previous subscriber you have more than a completely new, free player has (an additional character slot, no gold cap, less limitations on tells and mail, etc.).

            1. It makes tons of sense if you look at it from any angle broader than your own pocketbook.

              A VIP subscriber is still Turbine’s ultimate goal. A guaranteed $10 a month from a user, and there will still be the temptation to use the store and give the company extra money – especially since those 500 points a month are free for them to offer, and items in the store don’t add up to nice round numbers so that impatient people will feel tempted to “top it up” with small sums of cash for an immediate payoff.

              How do you encourage people to subscribe if everything is available free? Permanent swift travel access becomes a nice dangly hook.

              And the aforementioned sekrit “Premium Plus” bag, virtue unlocks for existing characters as well as the thought of powering through the mid-level quest content serve to tempt folks to subscribe for 1-3 months. If they are lazy to cancel or hooked hardcore to the game, they may continue the subscription. Which is already offered 2/3 cheaper than most MMO monthly subs at a number of yearly intervals.

              Failing which, if they can’t get a monthly sub out of you, they’ll let you play free and ask you to pay what you can, when you want to, out of their store. Win-win. Especially if the store casuals don’t bother to pay attention to fluctuating prices or calculate in fine detail how much they are dropping into Turbine’s pocket for convenience. Impatient people with too much money might again exceed a monthly sub amount.

              With some care and patience waiting for sales though, you can easily unlock a good amount of lifetime sub equivalent of content on the cheap.

              Shrugs, personally, I’m already bloody relieved that the 5 bag access, virtue traits on old characters remains for Premium users who used to subscribe. Ditto Moria and Mirkwood access.

              I thought long and hard, decided I would much rather not feel obliged to race through everything in 5 months ($50 equivalent), put up for 6900 TP, and will be unlocking areas as I need them. Most of my lowbies are in the 20+ range, so Lonelands got opened. My one highbie is already in Moria, but decided to be completionist and do grey quests in Trollshaws for fun – so that got unlocked too. Strictly unnecessary, but I wanted to, since Return to Rivendell is also handy.

              Skirmishes just went on sale, which was something else I had quite missed from my subscriber days. The good thing is, I had some definite favorites (Ford of Bruinen) that I wanted. Some I hate, and wouldn’t want them if you paid me to have them (Defence of the Prancing Pony.) So it works out – I’ll get the latter only when it’s on uber-sale, when I’m bored of all the other skirmishes and want something novel.

              If I hadn’t chosen to cancel my Founder’s sub 3-6 months before they went F2P, I could have scored a bunch of extra Turbine points and what not. But you know, that’s life. You catch some deals, you miss some deals. Why whine and regret things, unlike some other people fussing over the lotro forums that they *shock, horror* missed the first sale about storage options?

  6. “You did not purchase the SOA content; if you did, you wouldn’t have ever had to pay a subscription fee.”

    That is the crux of the whole confusion. Yes, it’s a good explanation… but for SoA only. The same argument can’t be applied to MoM, because I bought it at the time, canceled, and yet it’s still available to me whereas SoA is limited.

    If I didn’t purchase the MoM content then how come I can access it now without limitation (and I imagine it’s the same for Mirkwood)?

    But if it turns out that I -did- purchase the MoM content (because it logically follows that if I can access it, I must have purchased it at some point) then how come I -didn’t- purchase SoA at the time when the procedure was the exact same? Buy the respective box, enter product key, off you go.

    I’m not bitching for bitching’s sake. For example, I never bought Mirkwood, and I’m not expecting to access it at any point without buying it. But I would expect that the people who at the time did buy it can access it without issues, just like I bought MoM and I can access it. I’m quite happy, when and if it comes to that, to buy access to Mirkwood if I’m interested. I’m quite happy not to have it right now, since I never paid for a box of it, access to it, or any monthly sub while it was active.

    I’ve been reading a ton of semantic juggling to try and explain the (apparently simple to me) fact that on one hand Turbine acknowledges that I bought MoM, and on the other they apparently never acknowledge that I bought SoA. That’s why the whole thing is feeling backwards.

    Maybe it’s a mistake on my part and I did something screwy when I reactivated my account? I’m totally open to that possibility. I’m gonna try tomorrow and see if I can do anything with the SoA product key I have and see what happens.

    1. >> The same argument can’t be applied to MoM, because I bought it at the time, canceled, and yet it’s still available to me whereas SoA is limited.

      Would it help if you assumed that MoM and Mirkwood would also be theoretically totally off-limits, same like SoA is now, but out of the goodness of their hearts, Turbine decided to let those who purchased the xpac not need to unlock those areas again?

      It seems the inconsistency between how different boxes are treated is killing some people’s full comprehension of the LOTRO hybrid payment model, perhaps because they have a strong innate sense of fairness and consistency.

      The SoA product key you own enabled you to download the client and play the game (for 30 days full access) a full 3 years before Turbine decided to give the client with limited content access away to everybody for free. It now entitles you to a Premium account and not much more.

      From whence does this assumption that one owns the content after buying an MMO box come from? Guild Wars? I am greatly mystified.

      1. MoM and SoM are expansion packs. SoA = The Game. First you bought the game and paid a sub for access to it. Then you bought 2 (or 1) content packs. Then you cancelled your sub. Then they let you have some shit for free, and also let you have the 2 (or 1) content pack you previously bought.

        Or, consider that SoA = Ered Luin + The Shire + Bree and that’s the content pack that you previously bought that is now also being given away for free.

        This is not the fucking Kabbalah. It makes plenty of sense.

        Now the bags, on the other are an inconsistency that can be chalked up to “Turbine gave you free retention of some stuff”.

  7. So when I plunked down $49.99 (or however much it was) for Moria, I apparently now own it as far as Turbine is concerned, but when I plunked down $49.99 (or however much it was) for SoA, I apparently don’t own it. Now we’re on the same page.

    Yes, I’m perfectly aware that I can just chalk this up to Turbine’s goodness (or apprehension at having to deal with mobs of irate customers. both are good) and I can still enjoy Moria. Wahoo. I’m also perfectly aware that the move to F2P almost necessarily begs that some content has to be restricted. They need to make money and I’m more than fine with that.

    But what I’m saying is that the way they’re going about it feels backwards, and I imagine it’ll feel backwards to a lot of people (not that I’m the thermometer of any community reaction). Restricting SoA, but not Moria and Mirkwood I think it’s a Bad Move ™ and it’ll resonate with a lot players that will rightfully say “Hold up, I already paid for this stuff” no matter how much Turbine says they really, really, really didn’t.

    I had no issues at all with spending some cash on the DDO store. Bought a class a couple other cosmetics. Didn’t buy any adventure packs simply because I spent a lot of time trying each class up to level 4 or so, so I didn’t really have a need to get a pack, but I was seriously considering. Now, honestly, I have zero desire to do -anything- with the LOTRO store because of the feeling, right or wrong as it might be, that I had already paid for it. I can understand the smaller stuff like bags or travel and things like that. But content and areas I’ve previously visited and I have the characters and deeds to prove it? They can cram it, essentially.

    I’m sure a completely new player will have a radically different perspective, but there it is. If Turbine’s ultimate aim is to have VIPs and subs (and I can totally believe and understand and applaud that) then letting their players feel fingered is one of the worst ways to go about it.

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