Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) is an MMO with a few gray hairs showing. It’s not dying, fools that think that, but it is an old game that requires a certain agility to stay alive. It appears that in doing so Turbine is going back on their word that they would not sell armor with stats attached. Turbine’s Sapience responded that “[m]any players have given us feedback that there is a sparcity of [lower level] gear on the AH at these levels and they wanted an alternative. We’re trying to accomodate that.”
The Tier 3 versions appear to be on-level somewhere in the level 20-30 range. This isn’t low level armor, this is super low level armor. I tend to think that anything below 50 is definitively “low level” so Tier 3 versions won’t even last players through all the low-levels. So this offering is clearly not “pay to win.” It’s barely “pay to accelerate through much-needed leveling.”
What I am disappointed in is how Turbine handled it. First, they went back on their word. They are allowed to do that, but if they want to seem “not shady” then they should have preemptively issued a statement as to why. Some statement even just repeating what Sapience said above would at least show they weren’t going to slide this in without acknowledging they were crossing a line they had made.
Second, kudos to Sapience for issuing a response fairly quickly to the forum thread, but the logic seems a bit askew still. If there is an issue of not having decent leveling gear, which would be why many players would be looking for lower-level gear at the auction house, why wouldn’t Turbine considering ensuring that quest rewards filled that hole? Instead, it appears the answer is for players to pay a couple bucks. In the past, Turbine has added things like the Tasks Bulletin Board to help with leveling issues, and similar systems could be put in place for gear leveling issues. (As an aside, I would love for a legacy gear system in LOTRO.)
It seems like such a silly thing for them to harm consumer confidence for, which makes me believe it is a kind of dip test to see how customers react. Heck, I’ve had times where I wished I could spend some TP on gear. But, if Turbine crossed that line (which they did), I would want to understand where they would be going. I don’t believe Turbine is ever going to make LOTRO “pay to win,” but with them selling gear what are their new thoughts on “pay to be more comfortable.”