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Turbine purges their post pledging "convenience not advantage" after putting store only relics for sale

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You have to remember what is coming down the pipe line.

The minute it was announced that SWG Server were to be closed in December you knew that the release SWTOR would be very close and a few weeks later you are now able to pre-order SWTOR.

SWTOR has been one of the most anticipate MMO's for some years and regards of whether you think it will be good or not, millions will sign up simply because of the hype and because it is Star Wars.

Turbine know they are going to take a bit hit in subscription numbers when SWTOR is released.

A lot of players who join lotro when it when to F2P switch games very easily, they do not have a strong sense of loyalty if you will.

We know this, Turbine knows this, hence the need to get every last penny from from them before they move on.

I fully expect to see more and more only store only items which will give you boosts in game in the next 6 months.

Once SWTOR is released I fully expect a big drop in player numbers and to be honest I don't see many coming back.

I will put my neck out and make a prediction for 2012 for Lotro.

I expect Turbine will announce server mergers with the EU servers being hit, the number of in store only items that gives an advantage in game to increase significantly.

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Well I'm not too optimistic about the future either as cash shop WILL expand it's offer. And it'll definitely contain more advantages and I think they'll sneak in with RoI, as it's perfect moment. New content and hyped people won't really care about it. But then people who still play LOTRO either don't care about shop or just like it, so it won't be a big issue for them in 1st place.

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When Moria was first released.

'Moria will include Lothlorien!'

Moria didn't include Lothlorien.

When DN was promised.

'A new multiboss 12 man raid!'

They gave us the turtle instead then we waited for DN.

Monster play was described as a main feature of the game.

'Become a servant of the enemy in player vs monster play!'

Monster play has pretty much been ignored since release.

When the Steed of Night was put in the store.

'The Steed of Night is now permanent!'

Later removed, saying that 'permanent was a poor choice of words... we meant temporary'.

Dragon raid was promised for the anniversary.

'A new dragon raid to celebrate our 4th anniversary!'

Dragon raid is postponed till Isengard.

The store is nothing new. When will people learn that Turbine are just liars and cheats?

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When will people learn?

That was all the words necessary... ;)

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The tragedy of it is that this kind of business model, in a sector of the industry as notoriously fickle as MMORPGs, is decidedly short sighted. Doubly so as Turbine no longer seem interested in keeping existing players content and playing while simultaneously growing their market in fresh new directions. Which is what any rational company would be doing.

Instead, their business model seems to now be built on the wholesale replacement of their old long term customer base with a new one based on cyclical short term guests, with new groups periodically rotating in and out, spending a few months blowing money on the game and then leaving. It's a business model that will work as long as in those few months those 'guests' are spending more than the value of the sub fees Turbine would have earned for the same period on the old subscription model. That's quite a risk, as its gains could prove relatively short-term. If that's the case, it will lead to a spiralling abuse of the customer base as they struggle to retain their profit margins.

I think it's fairly obvious that we're already seeing that abuse, which strongly suggests that their new business model has been less successful than their PR would have us believe. Note that they have never released numbers, nor did they quantify any of their statements. So we have no idea if the F2P launch spike was comparable/greater/smaller than the launch spikes for Moria or Mirkwood. That's very telling. It could well be that previous expansion launches were more lucrative than the F2P launch, and that's why we're seeing them aggressively push the store and bring forward an expansion launch to September. Remember, all previous releases and statements have been based around expansions having winter launches. That's why the Isengard announcement was such a shock.

I think it's safe to say what will happen if they push things too far - people will leave, as they are already doing. And when people start leaving, Turbine will have no base of faithful long term players left to fall back on. Their only option to maintain their bottom line will be to squeeze the remaining players harder for more money. This would probably lead to more players getting the hump and quitting, which will lead to them squeezing the remaining players even more. And so on and so on, until eventually their entire business model is being propped up by a small group of players who are taking it up the backside in every conceivable way. And when that group decide they've had enough, or becomes too small, the game will simply fail. LOTRO will have been killed by Turbine's hubris.

One could convincingly argue that this has already started to happen. From there, the only way is down.

It wasn't so bad with DDO, in that it had nowhere to go but up. That game would have crashed and burned had they not gone free to play, and they bought that game a couple more years by doing so. But LOTRO was a healthy game, and it was amazing arrogance on Turbine's part to think that they could pull the same trick on a larger and, as it turns out, far more demanding and difficult to please player base. Their only mistake was in assuming that LOTRO's player base was identical to that of DDO, and that we would react in a similar way to similar changes. We didn't, and I think that surprised them, for all their big words. It feels like they're on the back foot.

I'm now starting to think that DDO will actually outlast LOTRO, as sad as that sounds. But Turbine will only have themselves to blame if that proves to be the case.

  • Upvote 3

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It's a business model that will work as long as in those few months those 'guests' are spending more than the value of the sub fees Turbine would have earned for the same period on the old subscription model. That's quite a risk, as its gains could prove relatively short-term.

An excellent post. My only real quibble is that you've forgotten to factor in one thing - Lifers. I expect that a substantial portion of the existing "old subscription model" actually isn't paying anything at all. And Turbine doesn't have to care about pissing us off, because we aren't revenue, and we can always come back whenever we feel like it.

And when people start leaving, Turbine will have no base of faithful long term players left to fall back on.

Again, Lifers. This is the one plus point we offer. Whilst we do not generate much revenue, because we will always come back, albeit in slowly declining numbers, we do help to sustain population numbers and therefore the feeling that LOTRO is "alive".

On the whole, though, I agree. I can't help but wonder if we'll ever get to Mordor. The game ought to have at least 3 & likely 4 years left in it. We've certainly got two more major expansions to come - Minas Tirith / Pelennor Fields; Mordor / Black Gate - and I imagine there will be other diversions mixed in. We could be yet find ourselves in the Dead Marshaes (more Limrafn *sigh*), heading out to Dale / Erebor, or meeting up with Aragorn to deal with the Corsairs of Umbar (I just hope they don't have us walking the Paths of the Dead. That really would stick two fingers up at the Lore). But will they have the wherewithal to do it properly? We've been on expansion-lite ever since the disappointment that was Moria...

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An excellent post. My only real quibble is that you've forgotten to factor in one thing - Lifers.

Fair points about lifers, but the lifer problem perfectly highlights Turbine's reckless short-sightedness. It may be that too many of the 'old guard' players went lifetime, leaving them with little monthly revenue from subscriptions. To be frank, that's their own fault - if they didn't want so many lifetime players, from whom they see no cash at all after the first 12 months of their play time, maybe they should, you know, not have sold so many lifetime accounts! Perhaps they saw that on average DDO subscribers stayed subscribed for less than 12 months and again made the mistake of assuming that the LOTRO player base would behave identically.

More likely is that they saw the short-term gains and foolishly went for it, not considering the knock on effects. Which left them floundering in the long term and desperately scrabbling for some means of squeezing lifers for more money when it became clear that they were getting a free ride. The unfortunate effect of that is that they have no way of squeezing lifers without also squeezing subscribers, who are now complaining because they're basically being squeezed twice.

Hence my belief that they are actively trying to dissuade players from subscribing by making it more palatable to go Premium instead of VIP - on Premium you only get squeezed the once. Encouraging your players to stop giving you regular monthly payments in favour of a variable income like buying store points is about the dumbest thing in the world. Once again they are foolishly going for the short-term gains that are systematically alienating their entire player base, with no eye on the bigger picture. Once they have no VIPs at all except lifers, then we will see them seriously abuse the store.

Remember, using the store is irrelevant to Turbine - they currently have two revenue streams, one is subscriptions, and the other is buying points rather than spending them. If a player is not doing one or the other they are no good to Turbine. And if on average every player is not doing one or the other (or both) to the value of at least $17.59 per month, then the entire model is a bust and is less lucrative than having a sub-only game. Encouraging players to stop paying that guaranteed fee in favour of getting them to shell out unpredictable and variable amounts of cash for an unpredictable and variable period of time must play havoc with their projections. It's a monumentally stupid thing to do and will inevitably lead to store shills becoming increasingly pervasive and invasive.

Just like we are seeing already. Oops, Turbine, hope you enjoyed that six months of comparatively good press, because you're going to get crucified in the next 12. :)

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...the lifer problem perfectly highlights Turbine's reckless short-sightedness.

Again, I have to agree with the bulk of what you say. The bit I've quoted is, though, very unfair, I think. I'm not known for speaking up for Turbine. I've hurled a fair amount of criticism their way over the years, CM too when they deserved it. But the Lifer thing wasn't reckless; it was a calculated gamble.

There is a massive development cost in bringing a new game to market these days. It's not someone in his bedroom any more, as it was in the days of the ZX80 / ZX81. Being a European player, my financial input is slightly off centre because of CM. I presume that CM paid a hefty licence fee to Turbine, and then recouped it from us.

However, ignoring the middle man, what you have at the start is a two-stream model. Turbine offer life membership at a sizeable price; they also offer the standard subscription model. The lifetime allows them to rapidly recoup a substantial portion of their development costs (including, lest we forget, a substantial licencing fee to the Saul Zaentz Corporation), which means the company doesn't fold. They're then hoping that the subscriptions will meet their projections to allow them to continue in the fashion they'd hoped. Unfortunately, I think their estimates were over-ambitious. That's why we've had expansion-lite ever since.

In short, I don't think they were reckless. I think they took a calculated risk. As it turns out, the numbers have come up short, which has meant an ever decreasing spiral of resource / content / release quality, up to the point at which WB bought them out. This, on the face of it, should mean that all those problems are sorted. RoI will show us whether that's really true or not, I think. If the content is lacking or buggy again, we will see the game atrophy. If they've got it right, for the first time in 3 years, it may find wings again & fly...

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Remember, using the store is irrelevant to Turbine - they currently have two revenue streams, one is subscriptions, and the other is buying points rather than spending them. If a player is not doing one or the other they are no good to Turbine. And if on average every player is not doing one or the other (or both) to the value of at least $17.59 per month, then the entire model is a bust and is less lucrative than having a sub-only game. Encouraging players to stop paying that guaranteed fee in favour of getting them to shell out unpredictable and variable amounts of cash for an unpredictable and variable period of time must play havoc with their projections. It's a monumentally stupid thing to do and will inevitably lead to store shills becoming increasingly pervasive and invasive.

just out of curiosity ... where do you get your numbers from?

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just out of curiosity ... where do you get your numbers from?

Guesswork and generalisation, really. :)

$17.59 is the cost of a one month subscription. If they're making less than that on average across their entire customer base, then they are making less per capita that they would on a standard subscription model. If that's the case then it was all a waste of time and they would have done better to not bother with all this cash shop nonsense, simply up their promotion of the game and attract more players under their old model.

Which is why they're clearly scrabbling to get more players to spend money on points - I don't think they are making more than $17.59 per player any more.

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$17.59 is the cost of a one month subscription. If they're making less than that on average across their entire customer base, then they are making less per capita that they would on a standard subscription model. If that's the case then it was all a waste of time and they would have done better to not bother with all this cash shop nonsense, simply up their promotion of the game and attract more players under their old model.

Which is why they're clearly scrabbling to get more players to spend money on points - I don't think they are making more than $17.59 per player any more.

That's why ALL major MMOs are offering rebates on long time subs. And if you look at other MMOs gone F2P like AoC or EQ2, LotRO still has the fairest payment model in the market, even with the all the new store additions around. That is because a) you don't need them and B) they are either one time or once per year sales.

With an F2P model you cannot really compare the earnings per player anymore. You cannot even compare it to the $99 for 12 months they are currently offering.

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I thought it was around $15 for one month subscription. Many people might go for the $30 for 3 months. So I'd put $10 as the minimum per month?

Some of my friends even went for the $99 for 12 months. Turbine's really advertising that one, so they seem to want at least $8 plus something monthly from the players. The $17.59 is quite double that.

(And I can't find updated prices and I don't want to have to log in the myaccount section. Why is Turbine not displaying the monthly fees clearly? Unless I'm grossly overlooking it, feel free to give me a link to the clear overview of current prices.)

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(And I can't find updated prices and I don't want to have to log in the myaccount section. Why is Turbine not displaying the monthly fees clearly? Unless I'm grossly overlooking it, feel free to give me a link to the clear overview of current prices.)

Nah, you can't see the prices up front on Turbine's account system unfortunately. I had to go most of the way through the subscription process just to find out how much they cost.

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Nah, you can't see the prices up front on Turbine's account system unfortunately. I had to go most of the way through the subscription process just to find out how much they cost.

Now that's just being asinine... Pfft. I can see why they had to advertise that $99 for 12 months heavily then. :P

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The standard prices without any offers or founders plan are

$14.99 per month

$41.85 per 3 months

$77.70 per 6 months

$143.40 per 12 months

found here http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?265042-Subscription-Plan-Information

One other thing to take into account when working is that there is a larger player base since F2P so even if everyone on average is play less per month the overall income could be larger

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Guesswork and generalisation, really. :)

$17.59 is the cost of a one month subscription. If they're making less than that on average across their entire customer base, then they are making less per capita that they would on a standard subscription model. If that's the case then it was all a waste of time and they would have done better to not bother with all this cash shop nonsense, simply up their promotion of the game and attract more players under their old model.

Which is why they're clearly scrabbling to get more players to spend money on points - I don't think they are making more than $17.59 per player any more.

I don't think that's how the model works. Would you rather have 100,000 players spending $17.59 a month or one million players spending $5.00 per month on average? 1.7 million dollars income vs 5 million income?

There is some additional cost associated with greater numbers of players, but it is not significant enough to drastically mess with the model.

IMHO

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Indeed lifers are Turbine biggest mistake. These most loayal players that should be base of income were turned into freebies. Maybe part of issues with CM was that they offered too many lifetime deals, knowing they won't keep the licence. Regardless I can imagine why they wanted to change whole payment methond into something new.

Yet I don't get why they kept the deal with lifers with F2P launch. Surely they'd have to give new updates for free, but free turbine points? Or having same status as paying VIPs? While I can imagine this wouldn't be popular, no free points for lifers or overall worse service than paying VIPs, would bring some money from most loyal/addicted players. Also this would give more incentive to pay monthly and be VIP, even for lifers. Sure some would never do it or leave, but then they aren't paying anymore, so...

Anyways now they are bound to offer same deal for those who pay monthly and lifers. So for example sweetening deal with 1000TP would also mean less income from selling points to lifers. Thus also more and more cash shop exclusives even for VIPs, forcing them to pay for it, which makes whole deal less attractive than premium account. Sadly I doubt they'll find any better way now, than milking game to death by offering more and more advantage in shop.

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I'm a lifetimer. Prior to F2P and the Store, lifetime subscriptions must have seen like a big mistake. Now that we know how much (read: how LITTLE!) those "free" 500 TPs a month can buy, I'm not so sure. The cost of Lifetime was around 12 to 14 months of pay per month subscription? After that it's all money saved. Something like that anyway... The way I see it, after preordering Isengard (without even hardly starting Mirkwood quests mind) I've not saved that much yet. All this Store junk is getting more and more questionable, that is, more "mandatory" for anyone who plays seriously.

I haven't indulged myself yet, but I can see how a good deal of these "freeloaders" who don't have to pay for their VIP anymore would be keen on buying more points. 500 a month burns in relic removals and other legendary itemizations, not to mention storage, (slayer) deed accelerations, wardrobe and costumes... A lifetimer is less likely to leave the game, more likely I would even say, to buy more points to add value to the investment already made. Besides, all that money from the Lifetime subscriptions has to have amounted a nice whoopin' deal of dough to spend on projects like say, more content for Lotro.

This is all speculation without numbers of course, which we can't access to anyway. But I have no doubt that F2P has brought enough preciousss dollars to counter for all the money "lost" by Lifetimers not paying each month.

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Indeed lifers are Turbine biggest mistake. These most loayal players that should be base of income were turned into freebies. Maybe part of issues with CM was that they offered too many lifetime deals, knowing they won't keep the licence. Regardless I can imagine why they wanted to change whole payment methond into something new.

Yet I don't get why they kept the deal with lifers with F2P launch. Surely they'd have to give new updates for free, but free turbine points? Or having same status as paying VIPs? While I can imagine this wouldn't be popular, no free points for lifers or overall worse service than paying VIPs, would bring some money from most loyal/addicted players. Also this would give more incentive to pay monthly and be VIP, even for lifers. Sure some would never do it or leave, but then they aren't paying anymore, so...

Anyways now they are bound to offer same deal for those who pay monthly and lifers. So for example sweetening deal with 1000TP would also mean less income from selling points to lifers. Thus also more and more cash shop exclusives even for VIPs, forcing them to pay for it, which makes whole deal less attractive than premium account. Sadly I doubt they'll find any better way now, than milking game to death by offering more and more advantage in shop.

If they were to not give lifers the same deal as VIP then they would be opening themselves up for lots of law suits

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If they were to not give lifers the same deal as VIP then they would be opening themselves up for lots of law suits

And why so? I thought the main deal with lifetime was getting free updates(except expansions) and access to game. I see no way extra points or "conveniences" for paying subscribers(lets call them platinum) break that.

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And why so? I thought the main deal with lifetime was getting free updates(except expansions) and access to game. I see no way extra points or "conveniences" for paying subscribers(lets call them platinum) break that.

There has never been any difference between a life time sub and any other sub, they are the same thing and were sold as the same thing, so they have to remain the same.

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Indeed lifers are Turbine biggest mistake. These most loayal players that should be base of income were turned into freebies.

Well, how many of those lifetimers would NOT have bought Isengard now because they had already left the game? Take a look at AoC, EQ2, etc. They all turned into F2P games without having lifers. As nice as this theory sounds it's simply wrong.

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There has never been any difference between a life time sub and any other sub, they are the same thing and were sold as the same thing, so they have to remain the same.

Was that written exactly into lifetime ToS or it's just Your logic? I'm seriously asking.

Anyways they could easily made up something like special 3+ month deals with bonus packs or platinum 20$ subscription, that's better than regular one. Just like they went with RoI pre-orders just for real cash after promising expansions buyable for points(I mean who said anything about pre-orders ;) )

@Mabusian

Same question would be how many lifetimers didn't buy RoI because they wait for it to be in store for points they gathered since F2P? Any my theory isn't that LOTRO went P2P -> F2P because of lifers. I'd say they did it for more money. I'm just thinking lifetime deal while sweet for players was a bad deal for Turbine.

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Was that written exactly into lifetime ToS or it's just Your logic? I'm seriously asking.

When I got mine it was advertised as getting the same as monthly sub.

Anyways they could easily made up something like special 3+ month deals with bonus packs or platinum 20$ subscription, that's better than regular one. Just like they went with RoI pre-orders just for real cash after promising expansions buyable for points(I mean who said anything about pre-orders ;) )

They could bring out another level of sub and take the monthly points off of both lifers and current VIP's but I would imagine this would upset a lot of current players. As for RoI you will be able to but it with points, just not yet.

@Mabusian

Same question would be how many lifetimers didn't buy RoI because they wait for it to be in store for points they gathered since F2P? Any my theory isn't that LOTRO went P2P -> F2P because of lifers. I'd say they did it for more money. I'm just thinking lifetime deal while sweet for players was a bad deal for Turbine.

Lifetimes were good for Turbine at the start as it would have recouped a large chunk of the money they spent making the game. Also lifers help to keep the population levels up which can be useful when new players come. The mistake was to offer lifetime subs for so long.

As for your theory that it was money that dictated the change, that is a given as Turbine themselves have said LOTRO was do well and making money before the change but F2P would open up the game to a larger player base

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