Quite some time ago now, we purchased lifetime subs to Lord of the Rings Online so that we could still play without paying the monthly sub. At the time, the price was pretty good, it was a half price offer over the usual cost. Within a few weeks, it became clear why they had been on sale – as Turbine announced Lord of the Rings online would go free-to-play.
At around the same time we just sort of stopped playing. No clear decision to do so, we’d just done a lot of the stuff (this was after Mirkwood had been released), and a few toons, and although we’d not done everything (and in fact, were no where near to completing everything) it was getting a bit samey.
I suppose the good thing, was that we weren’t paying a monthly sub while not playing, but it still sucked a bit that we’d just spent quite a bit buying a lifetime subscription only to find the game was going free-to-play. As the weeks went on, it became clear that I would be prepared to play Lord of the Rings Online without paying a sub of some sort anyway.
There’s more detail here (although it says beta in the link, so it may go away) covering what you get for free and what you need to pay for, or have a sub covering. Killer features for me, believe it or not, are extra bags and the full set of traits. Ultimately, we worked out we’d only keep playing by paying the sub (which gets you the VIP access) anyway, and the lifetime sub (which also gives you VIP) works out cheaper eventually.
So anyway, time passes and the free-to-play stuff finally goes live along with a new ‘free’ area. Suddenly there’s new stuff to do again, so we’ve started logging in and it’s just as fun as I remember. The store is okay, I have to accept that it’s okay for people to buy faster XP, faster deeds, more stats because that’s how Turbine have chosen to fund development. If I want more content, and I do, then I accept that’s the price I have to pay.
But I won’t be buying those things myself – I’m restricting my purchases (with my thousands of free Turbine points) to cosmetic items such as hats, dance moves, juggling and emotes I’d been casually working towards but never achieved.
What was good, was seeing a lot of people in-game, and a few people talking about how they move from free-to-play to a subscription because they wanted the extra features – it sounded like a healthy conversation to me.
The new area is nice, it’s brighter than Mirkwood with a much happier feel (people I know dislike LOTRO because it’s so damn glum, and Mirkwood was glummer than anything before it). I can see future expansions between equally dark and glum, it’s the nature of the War, but it’s nice to get out somewhere bright for a change. We spent a few hours killing 20k elites at an appropriate level which is unusual for us, and we generally had a good time.
I feel the need to get my alts up to level 65 ready for the next level cap increase next year, and I really need to sit down and spend a lot of time working out traits, weapon legacies, skill sets and gear across all my toons. That spark seems to be back – and I guess games on the PS3/XBOX360 will have to take a back seat while I work through it.
Edit: Better link for European players on the VIP vs. Free-to-Play benefits. http://www.codemasters.com/lotro/freetoplay/info/