Wednesday, September 14, 2011

[Lotro] Exceeding Expectations

I had in mind recently a topic along the lines 'why is there expansions anymore?', with an expectation that the forthcoming expansion would be priced about 1500-2500 TP in the store, oh how wrong I was on that prediction.

However, I'm still of the mind that expansions don't work with the free-to-play model. For a start the 'expansion' is now used as an excuse to charge subscribers for content, when the big selling point of being a subscriber is that all content is available for free* (yes there is fine print to the contrary, it's a clause that makes the constant ads on the loading screens something of a joke). By all accounts the RoI 'expansion' amounts to no more content than the mirkwood questpack, two questpacks would have covered it, one for dunland, then another for the Isen fords and Isengard, 700-1000 TP each. I would have prefered this method of delivering the content, if not only for the possibility of getting more timely updates (Dunland in July, Isengard with the delayed instances in November), but also it splits the amount of cash required needed in two portions. I was under the impression that smaller content packages are what is attractive to 'pay-as-you-go' premium players, it certainly appeals to me, buy one now then months later when I get an interest to play again buy the other. In addition, it's a worrying trend that content that was supposed to be in a free update before the 'expansion' and also content delivered later than the release date of the 'expansion' are also termed expansion content, and hence subscribers can be charged for two-thirds of the years content this year.

It certainly is contradictory now that the 'second-class' premiums have the chance to get the best deal by buying the 'expansion' for cash, while players planning to buy the game with saved up TP are having the squeeze put on them because of lifetimers I'm presuming. Codemasters didn't help matters much for offering such a cheap lifetime deal just months before F2P launched, it wouldn't surprise if most players that migrated from Europe were lifetimers, me I couldn't afford the €75 or was that the cost in pounds. It can't be a simple matter for Turbine to come out and say they made a mistake in giving lifetimers points every month, they'd already provided ample bonuses when F2P launched and all content free* in perpetuity. If a lot of the players invested in the game are lifetimers, it doesn't make sense to piss them off while providing more appealing offerings to the more fickle premium crowd, but where are new incomes going to come from then.

I think I'm at the stage where I'm constantly shaking my head at the attempts to see how far gameplay can be divided up and a pricetag placed on it and that players still find acceptable. I pay for content, but the very existence of convenience items is particularly off-putting when there is no onus on developers to streamline and improve the base experience. It's just getting pettier and pettier scrabbling over scraps, with the ethos of 'if we make good content then players will pay us for it' lost to the wind and now it's 'if you pay us we'll make the game enjoyable enough and then you can buy the content to play to your heart's content'. At least Turbine isn't as bad as Funcom, who expect subscribers to pay for non-expansion content or aren't they? With the latest stunt I'm just not sure anymore. It's probably the strongest reason to hope GW2 becomes the top contender when it is released.

1 comment:

  1. F2P is suddenly great. People really believe (again) F2P means they can get stuff for free - without paying. They are damn sure they don't have to pay.

    It's not only LOTRO, so far I have not seen any F2P game that does not end in F2P hell, where the sub would be cheaper than F2P. LOTRO was said to have the best of both world. Now it reminds me more of Cryptic's STO: SUB+SHOP. Damn I wonder how the item prices will be when they go F2P. On paper they are damn generous. I bet the prices will reflect that generosity. *coughs*

    Guild Wars (2): I hope GW2 will be like GW1. The only "F2P" game or rather a game with a payment system I know without finding hidden costs or taking advantage of the player. All Guild Wars "chapters" had probably the most bang for the buck I ever had so far.