MMO fans around the world will be able to play Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) for free after an update this fall. It’s surprising news, considering the popularity of the fantasy MMO. After the update, the game client will be free to download and play. A LOTRO Store will also be added. According to the announcement, it will be “loaded with thousands of convenience items as well as expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions, character customizations and more.” Items will be available for purchase with points that can be purchased or earned through playing the game.
There will also be an option to become a LOTRO VIP member, which will grant access to “premium content” in addition to giving you priority on server access, extra character slots, and a monthly allotment of points that can be used at the LOTRO store.
Above: Players interested in the beta for the free-to-play update should head to www.LOTRO.com. The beta is scheduled to begin on June 16
It sounds like Turbine and Codemasters are opting for a mix of pricing structures common in many other free-to-play MMOs. The “velvet rope” option will require players to pay for access that “premium content” via the LOTRO Store or a LOTRO VIP membership, and the LOTRO Store itself sounds like a typical micro-transaction system.
Above: Dwarves drink ale and Hobbits eat pies. LOTRO is a beautiful place
We’re used to seeing such radical transitions in pricing schemes with premium MMOs that received mediocre reviews – not with popular high-end games, like LOTRO, so this announcement comes as a surprise. We’re also left wondering how longtime LOTRO players feel about the radical change that’s in store for their virtual world this fall.
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