[LOTRO] New In-Store Armors

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.”


12 thoughts on “[LOTRO] New In-Store Armors”

  1. The reason there is so little gear (of all levels) on the typical LOTRO AH is because it doesn’t sell. It’s as simple as that. If LOTRO employed a broker system like EQ2, crafters could make things, put them up for sale, and replace them when they sell. But an auction house system, with listing fees, means an awful lot of things a crafter might post simply come back in the mail. Who wants to put up with that kind of hassle. An auction house only works if you have a fairly large market of potential buyers. Given that it only takes a few hours to level from 20 to 30, that market is small and elusive.

    Of course, Turbine’s solution was to sell stuff in the Turbine Store. Since it costs them absolutely nothing to list their goods and they have an infinite supply of them, there is now even less reason for a crafter to waste his or her time listing any competing item on the auction house….

  2. It’s been a while since I was messing around in Middle Earth, but even then I found it very hard to find gear for my level 20-30 Captain and Guardian. There was little to be found on the AH, and what was there was either overpriced, junk, or overpriced junk. Useful quest rewards seemed to be few and far between, and I ended up using the Skirmish system to try and get level appropriate armor and weapons.

    While I’m glad to see them adding alternative methods, I have to say that paying real money for gear that will last 10ish (maybe?) levels is . . . distasteful. I’d rather see a revamp of quest rewards, or maybe make those low level reputation vendors both easier to access and provide more rewards.

    If they have to go with the “virtual gear for real money” route they could at least make them like Heirlooms in WoW that level up as your character levels and are good enough to get by, but will occasionally be replaced for a while by a better item from a dungeon.

  3. @Warsyde –

    This where the F2P business model bites the players. A competently-run subscription-based game would try to solve this by improving quest rewards in that level range, increasing the rate of armor drops from monsters, encouraging other players to fill the need, or through some sort of creative gameplay-based mechanic.

    An F2P game “solves” the issue by selling armor in the store.

    1. *cough*
      A subscription-based game would make players conduct some sort of arduous, mind-numbing, soul-crushing GRIND to acquire the gear… spending oodles of time in the process so the DEVs can milk whatever limited content they have (and the players) to the maximum.

      In essence; would you like to bend over, or lay down with your ankles behind your ears? Cuz one way or the other…

      1. Not at lower levels they don’t. Very few MMOs put significant grinds into the leveling game nowadays; they save those for the endgame.

  4. Is sub-50 really considered low-level now? I got to 42 (I think) in my time there and when I occasionally drop back in I think of myself as reasonably well-established.

    Assuming I never buy any expansions, which is a pretty safe bet, I’m almost at the level cap. Presumably most F2P players will never buy an expansion?

    1. The level cap is now 75. 50 is fair cutoff for low level. If you dont to 50 you never see any of the endgame systems (legendary items, virtues) and endgame content even from the initial release (East Angmar, Annuminas for 50) much less the expansion endgame content (Moria 60, Mirkwood 65, Isengard 75)

      You wont understand many of the complaints people have about the horrible endgame grind and P2W features that did not exist in the initial Shadows of Angmar release.

    2. As far as I can tell, by the standards of the LOTRO community, anything below level 75 is “low level.” You can get from 1 to 20 in under 8 hours /played. 21 to 30 is about the same. 31 to 40 is a bit slower. 41 to 45 is a huge slog because it usually involved farming pages. At 45 you get your first LI and are usually 46 before you set foot into Moria. If you actually do the starting quests there (they’re red, but still completely soloable), you’ll be 50 in no time. 51 to 60 happens pretty much as fast as you want it to, with skirmishes, epic questlines, and general Moria/Lorien adventuring. Level 61 to 65 is almost trivial (one of the big complaints about Siege of Mirkwood being that a dedicated player could finish it in a week). Between Enedwaith and Dunland, 66 to 75 isn’t exactly difficult, either.

      To put it bluntly, if you really wanted to, you could probably level a character from 1 to 75 in about 100 hours /played. You’d have to know where you were going and what you were doing; and you’d have to skip the massive timesinks like the Old Forest, Angmar, and Forochel. If you wanted to take your time, you could probably still manage it in 200 hours /played.

      Some might consider that a lot of time. Those people probably have jobs, families, and lives ;^)

      EDIT: Level cap is no longer tied to expansions. You can get to level 75 without buying a single expansion. So no, you’re not really near the level cap. But you’re not really all that far from it, either. Call it about 50 to 60 hours of /played, if you really wanted to reach level 75 as fast as possible. And no, I don’t advocate doing that at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  5. Most people here know I’m not a big fan of LotRO’s free-to-play conversion. On one hand, this is hardly a game-breaking offering; it’s not like they’re offering raid armor in the store. On the other hand, this does show the negative side of cash shops in traditionally subscription-based MMOs. As commented above, this kicks the crafters in the vulnerable bits for a level range that was already barely profitable in the first place. It also shows the readiness to say, “fuck it, we’ll put something in the store” instead of fixing the actual problem (crafting being too risky, AH costs adding to that risk, quest rewards being garbage, etc.)

    But, as I’ve said many times before, a business model is a tool. It can be used for good as was for ill. Sadly, even according to my free-to-play loving self, LotRO’s path has seemed to constantly favor the “ill” side. At least DDO is still reasonable. For now, I fearfully add.

  6. Besides there being plenty of options where they could have introduced some better gear at that level range, they choose the store. The biggest issue I take with this gear it is poorly itemised, for example what medium/heavy armour wearer wants will, and might/agility only appears on the tier III armour, will a new player just out of the tutorial know wardens want might and hunters/burglars want agility. They revamped the stats, but never adjusted items outside of RoI, that was incredibly lazy, it seems they are fine confusing new players with random combinations of stats on gear, like might/agility on light armour, will on heavy armour, they should correct the itemisation on all quest rewards, crafted and skirmish gear at all levels.

    I can’t think of any existing type of player who’ll buy these, it seems more like a dupe to catch new, misinformed players, which really leaves a bad taste.

  7. Why would I want to play a game that is “uncomfortable”? I don’t understand why people would want to pay extra to change the game’s balance. Either it is fine, or the developer has to change stuff.

    Equivalent: “Hey look, this is the new Left 4 Dead, but we will make the loading screens ten minutes long. You can pay us 5$ to make them faster, though. Deal?”

  8. “I don’t believe Turbine is ever going to make LOTRO “pay to win,””

    But what if the ‘customers’ demand it?

    What’s to stop Turbine making end-game gear as hard to get as 20-30 gear, and rather than fixing that problem in-game, they ‘fix’ it like they fixed the 20-30 problem?

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