All limitations can be lifted a la carte via the LOTRO Store. Account upgrades, increasing/removing caps and purchasing expansions can be done in the Store using Turbine Points, which can be purchased with real money or earned online through gameplay. Those with monthly (or in my case, lifetime) subscriptions automatically become VIP members and earn 500 points for each month they subscribe - as long as they log in during that month.
I really think this is a great move on the part of Turbine. With the success they saw with this system in Dungeons and Dragons Online, it's no surprise of the impending implementation in Lord of the Rings Online. It will give people the chance to play a top-tier MMO for free to at least try it out. Personally, I like that as a lifetime subscriber, this only affects me in a positive way. I get points for free, which I can turn into more character spaces or more shared storage. Turbine obviously worked hard to make sure subscribers didn't feel screwed. I really look forward to seeing the new system and content this Fall.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Announces The Lord of the Rings Online™ to Adopt Global Free-to-Play Model
Turbine’s Award-winning Online Game Will Be Free-to-Play Worldwide This Fall
BURBANK, CA – June 4, 2010 – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that Turbine, Inc. will unveil a major update this fall, making The Lord of the Rings Online™ (LOTRO) free-to-play for everyone. Extending its award-winning story, LOTRO delivers the ultimate adventure featuring a massive world with state-of-the-art graphics and gameplay, and a rich set of features that until now could only be found in premium subscription-based online games.
Launching this fall across North America and Europe, with Codemasters operating the game free-to-play in Europe, LOTRO will introduce Turbine’s innovative new pricing model that allows players to download the game and play for free, purchase expansions, quest packs, items, and account services a la carte from the new LOTRO Store, or join the VIP program to get unlimited access to all of the game’s content for one low price. Players interested in getting a sneak peek of the new LOTRO can sign up for a chance to participate in the Beta program which begins June 16, 2010 at www.lotro.com.
“Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is bringing quality games based on The Lord of the Rings to multiple platforms, and the franchise’s expansive adventure story lends itself perfectly for LOTRO free-to-play, giving a wide range of players the opportunity to experience the game,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President Online Games and Digital Games Platforms, Warner Bros. Digital Distribution and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “We are focused on expanding our game franchises onto new digital platforms to maximize quality experiences for gamers worldwide and LOTRO’s new model is a great leading example of this.”
“Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™ was the world’s first truly premium free-to-play online game that ushered in a new era of choice for online gamers seeking quality entertainment,” said Jim Crowley, President and CEO of Turbine. “The popularity of DDO validated the extraordinary demand by gamers for quality entertainment they can experience at their own pace and within their budget. Extending free-to-play to LOTRO will offer another premium game to a broad spectrum of fans.”
“Having successfully taken two titles free-to-play in the past we are very pleased to be doing the same with The Lord of the Rings Online in Europe,” said David Solari, Vice President and General Manager of Codemasters Online. “It’s a fantastic, award-winning game with a wonderfully realized world and this step will only broaden its appeal and increase its player base.”
LOTRO will offer players unlimited choice!
To all the World of Warcraft fanatics - no, I do not think this will somehow pull players from WoW or even put a dent in the install base. Basically, Turbine is just giving people who would not otherwise subscribe to a major MMO, a chance to participate and give it a test run. If those individuals were inclined to subscribe to a top MMO, they would most likely already have done so. So, don't even start the crap.