I played The Lord of the Rings Online for a bit, off and on between breaks from World of Warcraft. The game is a masterfully crafted vision of Tolkein’s vast world, and definitely a great MMORPG on top of all that. We’ve known for a while that Turbine was going to take the game in a free-to-play direction, and that service has been in beta testing for the past few months.
It was just announced today that the game will be out of beta and go into full, live free-to-play mode starting September 10, 2010. Even starting now you can no longer sign up for the game the way it used to be. What are the benefits and differences here? We’ll let Turbine run those down for you, as the list below is taken from the official announcement.
- Free means Free! – Players will download LOTRO by visiting www.lotro.com and join with millions of other adventurers as they explore the most complete and authentic recreation of Middle-earth ever created and participate in LOTRO’s award-winning epic story up to level 50 for free.
- Visit the new LOTRO Store! — The LOTRO Store is loaded with thousands of convenience items as well as expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions, character customization and more! The LOTRO Store is seamlessly integrated into the game and lets the player identify new and exciting ways to enhance and customize their experience using points which can be purchased in the store or earned through gameplay.
- Be a LOTRO VIP! – Players who elect to become a LOTRO VIP will have unlimited access to all premium content, receive priority server access, 5 character slots, a shared bank slot, and a monthly allotment of points to spend in the new LOTRO Store.
Executive Producer of LOTRO, Kate Paiz, had this to say about the move to a F2P model:
“Our LOTRO beta program has been a huge success and we want to thank all of our players who worked with us to get the game ready for launch. Our unique pricing model has revolutionized the industry and starting in September, players will be able to choose how they pay for and play one of the world’s best online games and we can’t wait to welcome millions of new players to Middle-earth!”
I, for one, am excited to download and try this new F2P The Lord of the Rings Online, since I’ve always been a fan of the game. While the best things don’t come to people’s minds when they think F2P with MMOs, I’m pretty confident Turbine can do a decent job, as I’ve enjoyed their stuff in the past and have always respected their connection with the community.