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Making All Quest & Expansion Content in LOTRO FTP has more than doubled player activity

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March 19 2020 Standing Stone Games announced all quest and expansion content would be free to play for everyone until April 30 2020 in response to the global situation with Covid19.  SSG have decided to extend this an additional month through to May 31 2020.

this action has more than doubled LOTRO's active population.


as you can see player averages were almost entirely between 500 - 600 players prior to the offer.  Player average for April is almost 1,305...  more than double the activity from STEAM.

log-in tracking also shows (below) the doubling.  the larger the server, the greater the increase.


what does, (if anything) this mean for the future of Lotro's model?  is the extension of an extra month just simple generosity? or are they showing increased revenues as well?

will this mean in the future more of the game (than current) becomes FTP?  will it mean they re-examine their price model with regard to older content?

regardless, more than double are playing LOTRO due to it being FTP for the time being...  in spite of the "Lag".

one wonders what SSG is learning from this new data...

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I take it back, then. I assumed that it would be pointless because nobody is keeping track of it any more to even know it's free, but I was probably wrong.

Would such an outcome also be possible from existing players simply playing for longer, hence more over-lap with other players logging in and a larger peak? For example, if 10 different people logged in every 10 minutes and only played for 5 minutes at a time, after an hour it would only have a peak of 10, but if they stayed for an hour then 60 would show.

But then I guess if separate logins are counted, only crashes would explain an increase of re-logging in, but more actual players makes more sense.

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1 hour ago, Doro said:

Would such an outcome also be possible from existing players simply playing for longer, hence more over-lap with other players logging in and a larger peak?

i am not certain, but the log-in server would record the server you accessed, but i do not think it factors in character swapping.

other factor could be more free bots farming content for things like LP.

whatever the case.  the activity is slightly more than double.

& Evernight daily numbers are the largest.  might even bother with a pie chart, but since Lux has stopped tracking...  no Anor or Ithil.



Edited by LasraelLarson
pie chart added
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I didn't even know it had been extended beyond April officially. I was just glad some error had occurred that allowed content to be free this past weekend. My wife and I at level 120 now playing fairly often. I guess we're good until the end of May now.

I suspect almost all the increase is from returning players that have heard through whatever grapevine that content is free right now.

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It worked for me, I've been playing every day since they announced this, working my way thru Mordor and Minas Morgul.  I never purchased either of these expansions and I'm actually having a lot of fun with them. 

Before this I hadn't played for literally months and had no plans to return.  I see a lot of players running around in these areas at all times of day.

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There is also a lot of people not working just now, so this is something to do.  I would be interested to see what the difference between the income being generated now with the extra people playing is like compared to that of selling quest packs and old expansions.  Perhaps they might keep more of the content free for everyone

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Unlike 5 years ago, there's actual endgame raids and other instances so some people will stay. The reason my wife and I stopped playing back then was that after Helm's Deep we were left with Epic Battles...... and that's about it. Not our cup of tea.

The Dol Amroth/Paths of the Dead Update was okay with a decent amount of stuff to do but Gondor Aflame added nothing so we kinda lost interest.

It was too long a gap by the time Battle of the Pelenor Fields and a few instances started to get added. We were gone already.

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On 5/4/2020 at 2:28 AM, LasraelLarson said:

is the extension of an extra month just simple generosity? or are they showing increased revenues as well?

You answered it. Must be this. I was amazed they extended it, seemingly without any incentive to reneg on their original deadline set for the April offer. So of course there was incentive.

What's more, all the deeds in all the "opened" regions still award LP. I logged in for the first time in half a year just to check whether this was so, and was surprised the LP earning hasn't been deactivated for the duration of this "free open game event." In effect, SSG is allowing everyone to farm LPs without any restrictions, throughout the whole entire game. SSG management is thick but this is no oversight. Again, there must be incentive for this to have been greenlit.

Interestingly, both April and May have seen "VIP thank you gift" promotions. (Log in as a VIP and get a "free gift"). IIRC, the first and last such VIP promo occurred all the way back in the summer 2016 (Steed of the Eldar), a one-off marketing idea that was forgotten like many other promo ideas and never used since. Til now, and two months in a row at that. 

Some observations / speculations:

  • Players newly incoming/returning on the premise of "free open game" are more likely to spend $15 for a month of VIP to "buy" these exclusive items (in April it was a fireworks cosmetic pig, in May it's a medium carry-all storage which otherwise costs ca. 1495 LP in the store)
  • How many of these players will forget to manually cancel their subscription and get charged for another month or more? The "gym membership" trap. A fair amount. Some more might waffle on canceling because it does award LP and perks.
  • Players who can access entire game for free have more incentive to buy toon upgrades/P2W to experience this free content that's otherwise out of reach. Aka, Valaring toons to play in Mordor, Minas Morgul, Wilderlands.
  • Making the brand-new Wilderlands zone open and free like the rest of the game (certainly something SSG didn't "have" to do) creates more incentive for toon Valaring among the solo anti-raider player demographic who wouldn't be interested in Mordor or Minas Morgul.
  • Unlimited free access to endgame = more incentive to buy LI upgrades. 
  • All of these must be working and generating revenue for SSG to have extended this open free period by another month.

It looks and sounds like SSG is sitting cushy, to gamble on this "generosity gesture" to begin with. I'd venture to speculate they've got some private financial backers beyond the mere gamer whales (though the two categories are certainly not mutually exclusive). Consider their ties with the "prestige privilege class" in the likes of university educators, internet influencers, and other types who love an ego boost of "supporting small biz". Not to mention the whole greater MA area is a cesspool of white privilege. The noted tendency of SSG management to circle the wagons, carry on gang-like dynamics, and flip off active paying players as disposable, may be explained by the fact they can (apparently?) financially afford to. Whether or not that's hubris or delusion remains to be seen. The marketing decisions taken over the past two months suggest they're running their own operation with enough financial backing to absorb the risks. Of course, any notion of "player feedback" or "listening to players" is - I was gonna say window dressing, but let's be more realistic, shit smeared on a wall. They're probably too small an op to have stockholders, but surely whoever is passing them the cash has their own incentive to do so, too. Even if nothing else than having the "privilege" to be in that privy circle. I won't bet against possibility most of Lotro's new little changes/systems coming out these days are just someone's little pet wishes that get aired behind the "privileged" scenes. I mean, from whom else do they get ideas when their playing-customer alienation is so obvious they've stopped pretending by now.

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58 minutes ago, warspeech said:

I've been wondering if they're doing some kind of data collection under the covers that they're making money off of somehow.  No idea what it could be, but it did cross my mind.

Now that you mention this, these two threads (both locked) and Cord's replies are looking quite fishy. Or phishy.



Different threads with same title. Note the stark absence of usual bumbling clueless Cord, these articulate replies are carefully crafted. Complete with a red herring blaming it on something from as far back as 2013. If nothing to see here as claimed, why hush it up and lock it up.


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Something worth noting. Small businesses are getting free handouts these days if they keep their employees on the payroll. I'm not saying this is the case with SSG, but also not excluding the possibility. What better time to explore if the real F2P model actually works without the loss of overhead risk.

I also noticed the uptick on Steam. However, I still have to consider the Steam crowd is not a majority. Also I haven't forgotten that SSG has slowly withdrawn from Steam to the exclusion of various features which are always Steam exclusive. Somehow I remember reading on the OF where Steam users were left without recourse for certain situations regarding LotRO. These escape me atm and may take some moments to retrieve from the OF. Lastly on the subject of Steam, I highly doubt many of the Steam users have contributed anything financially to the LotRO/SSG coffer. Steam users are in LotRO, because it is actually free at this time. I'll be checking those numbers for the next few months and see what happens.

New regional content:

It is ok for what it is. The story arcs aren't bad, but the region doesn't have much depth beyond the two main story arcs. One for Hobbits and another for Rohan history. I've put about 25 hours into the new region and its done. The choice at this point is to go back to MM and grind the instances or stop playing. I chose the latter. I said I wouldn't download the client again, but when I saw it was completely free, I gave it a go. Considering the current pandemic situations, this left some periods in social interaction lacking. Partly my own reservations due to concern for myself and at large, valuing my friends, families welfare more than my own idleness. Which led to how I even bothered to log on. I guess I'm saying once it isn't free, I'll go back to my new status quo of forsaking LotRO again. I doubt I am alone in that last part. If I were to list a top five leisure time to-dos, LotRO doesn't have a place there anymore.

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8 hours ago, Wrath of Winter said:

I was amazed they extended it, seemingly without any incentive to reneg on their original deadline set for the April offer. So of course there was incentive.

it certainly does make me wonder...    ;)

2 hours ago, Splay said:

Steam...  I'll be checking those numbers for the next few months and see what happens.

sharing this for everyone really.  some may know this, but regardless, sharing.  you can adjust the timeline data using the cursor i have highlighted in the image below:


or as i haven't shown, (i'll leave that for your fun) use the other cursor in image to look at specific period in the past.

one point...  anything 3 months out is algorithmically flattened. not 100% on this but i think they switch from using daily peaks and lows - to averages.  regardless, still interesting data.

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For those who are VIP there is some free gifts for logging in before the end of May

A selection box of medium carryalls, choose from one of the following: Crafting, Task, Essence, Instrument or Housing Decoration. This item delivers to the first character on the first server you log into. Please make sure to log into the server that you wish to claim the item on.

Greater morale potion (bound to character, delivered to every character a player logs into on their account between May 1st and May 31st.)


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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

SSG admit to generating income they didn't expect. There will have been a lot of players catching up, resorting to the store, re-learning and getting the lay of the land. But at some point each will start to get how it is these days with the grinds and store cheats that never quite fix the issues.

The impact on performance the increased numbers have had might send a few packing, but the numbers seem to be down from their max on Evernight now. The bubble (spike) looks like it's over so I wonder if SSG are just their usual short-sighted. The new expac offer presentation is looking like a lot of numpties will be paying for stuff they already have. GMs are going to be dumped on once they figure it out. Ineptness abounds still.

SSG are okay though, the numpties are going VIP to thank SSG for their generosity, despite being told they made a deal of cash out of it. 

The game is inexplicable. There's nothing quite like it, it's fascinating to watch it...

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