Isengard Pricing

The pre-order option for LotRO’s next expansion just became more attractive when Turbine released the Turbine points costs, which are about twice as much and were presumably calculated as “every single point a lifetime subscriber would have accumulated since F2P.” Oh, and the pre-order xp item is being added to the store, so that’s $10/character bonus in the pre-order, if you wanted to price it that way. I would expect more upcoming content to be classified as “expansion” and therefore an additional cost to VIPs and lifetimers.

We also now have the timing of content release: raid at launch, the instance cluster in December. That is, the answer to Mirkwood’s ridiculously lacking endgame is to launch without most of the endgame and patch it in 3 months later. That kind of worked for City of Heroes/Villains, because they launched the entire game that way, giving you 40 levels to enjoy until the first patch, rather than 10 levels in a game with rested xp.

This is basically the make-or-break point for any current players. Either you pay the $30 for an Isengard pre-order or you quit, because the Turbine Point cost is not worth it. I would have paid 3,000 TP for the expansion, but not 6,000; the pricing at 6,000 perversely makes me want to wait for it to be 1,500, so someone comment or something if it goes 75% off someday.

Following up on last year’s post, the F2P model has apparently gone off the rails for Turbine. Has revenue fallen that much, or are they plowing it into their next game rather than their current games? LotRO is now a game with an excellent mid-game and an endgame that has gotten worse every time they raise the level cap. But hey, if people will pay for it, “less content for more money” is a great business model.

: Zubon

Hat tip: Spinks

21 thoughts on “Isengard Pricing

  1. Syncaine

    The joys of F2P.

    I do wonder though, as TAGN has mentioned before, just how much damage did offering a lifetime sub for LotRO do to the game? I wonder how much of this is driven by the fact that too many of their players don’t pay a dime now thanks to that initial payment way back in 2007.

    1. Pardoz

      How much damage did the lifetime sub offer do? Lots, I think. And not just because lots of players don’t pay a dime now, but also because of how Turbine handled that big initial infusion of cash. It may sound odd to say “I really wish they hadn’t poured it all back into game development right away”, but I think the game would be in a healthier place now if they’d held more money back, and hadn’t put out so many, so large, and so frequent updates in the first couple of years after release. The game would probably be on sounder financial footing today, and they wouldn’t have created the same expectations in the player base.

  2. Hambone Hamlet

    Yes, Syncaine F2P is a joy and its one the reasons why I love LOTRO so much. As lifer I do not have to pay a monthly fee but I still brought all 3 expansions and drop around $40-$50 dollars per year on point bundles.

    As for 6000 points for the RoI expansion, you have to remember that the Expansion Instances which are 1495 Turbine Points is not available until December and the Raid: Draigoch’s Lair is a 24 man raid for 1250 Turbine Points is optional, if you do not raid. So the Isengard Expansion Quests is only 3250 Turbine Points.

    A Casual Stroll to Mordor -> http://www.casualstrolltomordor.com/2011/09/rise-of-isengard-lotro-store-pricing-announced/ Did a very good job breaking down the pricing, maybe you should have read it before posting, Zubon.

    1. Syncaine

      I’m not sure if I missed the sarcasm or not, but you are happy that you are paying an additional $40-$50 now that LotRO is F2P, after having paid for a ‘lifetime’ subscription? Along with being happy that even after a lifetime sub and spending more on top of that, not all content is available to you unless you spend even more (if you wanted ALL of the stuff from the shop)?

      Eh, I must have missed the sarcasm.

      1. moondog548

        Syn, I do the same, and I am happy (on that front), because what I’ve paid for with those Turbine points was not previously available for me to have at all. They were things I was willing to pay additional cash for. More character slots, storage, cosmetics, etc.

        1. SynCaine

          My point was: if LotRO was still a sub game, you would not be paying extra for character slots/storage/cosmetics, because your lifetime sub would cover that. It’s not like any of those things were impossible to add to the game under the sub model, right?

          One could argue the 96th fluff hat might not be made for a sub game, but that’s a different topic :)

          1. moondog548

            Um, no. Obviously they could add infinite things for fee whenever, but that doesn’t necessarily make any kind of business sense. Extra character slots, storage, fluff, convenience items, etc. would (and in fact did when they were introduced) make more sense as premium purchasable features while the game was sub-only.

            1. SynCaine

              I think this reflects more modern F2P thinking. 10 years ago, add more character slots was considered a nice and/or necessary thing to do, and no one thought they should cost $10 a slot. Then F2P comes along, and now paying $10 a slot is “business as usual” and “makes no sense” for a sub model. Just a reflection of how the market and it’s consumers have changed.

            2. Brise Bonbons

              Exactly. Before they they became a commodity, character slots could be a design choice (preventing a player from making one of every profession, for example), or simply a nice convenience offered as a service.

              The idea that they’re legitimate RMT fodder was created by the F2P model; I’d argue that the only reason people accept them is because they’re less onerous than the other options.

              I don’t like the subscription model any more than F2P, honestly, but at least the subscription model keeps the devs honest (to a degree); if they don’t pump out enough content to keep up their end of the bargain, players can cancel until an expansion hit.

              The F2P model creates many perverse incentives for the devs to purposefully hamstring the game. The fact that character slots are now a pay service rather than a design choice is a perfect example of this.

  3. Tigger

    I guess I should have seen this coming. The TP costs for quests in DDO are much higher relative to the TP earned completing the quests compared to LoTRO.

    Purchasing content in DDO with ingame earned TP requires about 10-20 alts repeating content to return the TP spent. A serious amount of unfun which makes cash purchases much more attactive for casual players. LoTRO was roughly TP neutral with 4 characters. Running 2 characters through the free zones gives enough TP to buy 2 additional slots. Running 4 characters (about the fun limit for repeating zones for me) through quests, explorer, and reputation TP in a zone would purchase the next zone on sale.

    This leaves a player lacking a lot of traits, bags and skirmishes but they aren’t really necessary for soloing before Moria. I had Mirkwood before the F2P transition so I’m not sure about how painful it would be to get Moria. It looks like the first real point a casual player has to pull out a credit card to avoid heavy grind.

    The Isengard pricing really throws down the gauntlet. There is no way grinding another 6000 or even 4000 TP would be remotely fun. VIPs with lots of spare TP (what do VIPs buy with 500TP a month if they aren’t cosmetics obsessed?) can grit there teeth for a few months and buy in game but Premium and Free players will need cash. That is probably the equivalent of running 15-20 alts through the content to earn the TPs.

    I think Turbine overshot the mark on the pricing. Content for F2P players needs to look reasonable to grind or the F2P title seems false but still expensive enough that only an extremely dedicated minority of F2P players can actually succeed.

    1. Brise Bonbons

      This change is very interesting to watch, if frustrating.

      There is one school of thought that thinks F2P means “if you spend enough time, you can experience the whole game for free – paying is just a shortcut”. There is another school of thought that says “you will never see the whole game, unless you pay astronomical amounts of money, and maybe not even then”. There’s a real conceptual rift between the two camps, and some games are finding themselves caught in the middle, or transitioning between the two.

      For example, TF2 used to be a game where you could realistically unlock all weapons through crafting and drops, given enough time. I don’t think that’s the case anymore – I honestly don’t think the game is designed with the idea that you’ll ever have access to every weapon in the game, unless you spend hundreds of dollars on unlocks.

      Similarly, I see LoL as a game where you are never intended to unlock the entire game, even if you’re spending freely.

      These games seem designed for players to pick and choose to unlock a few things they like and want to focus on. But there are a lot of us who think that if we’re playing a game, we should have access to the whole bloody thing.

      As the F2P model evolves, I think it will be less and less common for anyone to ever “own the whole game” – and certainly not by grinding and playing for free.

      Is that OK with us? It’s certainly not OK for me…

      1. Zubon Post author

        TF2, you certainly can. Starting right now, it would take a long while, but anyone who plays a lot will get most things and can craft the rest. If you just want a few, trade. Here and in LoL, you won’t want everything, so you’re only going for the items/champions you would use.

  4. Pingback: LOTRO: The devalued Turbine Point « Bio Break

  5. Ethic

    I must just be blissfully happy about this game because I am a lifetime member and I immediately pre-ordered this expansion and never even thought about any of the costs and if it is worth it. Maybe I am part of the problem but this is one game where I have never, ever, had a regret about giving them my money.

    1. Zubon Post author

      No, you’re doin’ it right, if you’re still playing and enjoying it. The $30 deal is pretty good. The Turbine Points deal is horrible.

      1. Ethic

        The points are icing on the cake for me. I don’t normally even think about them but every so often I think “I would like more bank space” and I click a few buttons and I have more bank space.

        1. Yeebo

          I actually bought the expensive pre-order so I could have all three colors of cosmetic items available. For me personally waiting until after launch and missing out on the pre-order bonuses was never much of an option.

          I do have enough points from my lifer sub socked away to have bought all the quests, which is all I personally care about content wise. I’m like you with my TP, I mainly use them when I need a little extra bank space or enough crafting mats to make a specific item for one of my alts.

  6. moondog548

    The inflation of the TP cost is obvious coersion for VIPs to drop cash on the expansion. While I don’t think it’s unfair to try to get folks to pay cash for the things they explicitly want us to pay cash for, I don’t really like the… tone? They’ve taken in executing their strategy.

    Their marketing is disrespectful is basically my gripe. Their actual policies with the game and content and so on are not a problem for me (yet), but they manner in which they interact commercially with we the customers is really starting to irk me.

    1. Ravious

      Yeah, I mostly agree with Ethic. If I was playing I’d have no problem plunking $30 down. Still as a lifer it does feel like my lifetime stipend just had a little chunk of value taken away.

  7. ArMo

    I am a lifetimer and will do ‘the stupid’ thing and by the expansion will TP points. I won’t be raiding so I don’t need to buy raid at all. I have used some points to extra space in vaults, extra legendary item slots etc. but have enough points to buy quests at this time and will gather enough points to get dungeons when they come out in december.

    In the end I believe that it is up to each and everyone to decide what is the best way for themselves to get the expansion. I disagree that pricing is made so that you either buy expansion with money or quit but I look at the situation from my point of view. So depending on your point of view there is probably one decision that is better than others but there is not any decision that is best for all of us here.

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