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LOTRO 2012 Predictions


Wayshuba
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The only wrinkle in the doom-and-gloom: The Hobbit is releasing in 2012, and next year's expansion is going to built around the path of Bilbo through Northern Mirkwood/Laketown/Lonely Mountain.

You can bet that Turbine/WB is NOT going to waste an opportunity; they have probably already negotiated a new contract for the rights.

I expect that these zone are not going to contain end-game content, but will be alternate starter areas, with Laketown = Bree; Lonely Mountain = Thorin's Hall, a Wood-Elf settlement = Celondim/Duilland, and a "River Folk" settlement = Michel Delving. The content will span levels 00 - 40, and lead to Rivendell.

The expansion will probably release in October, and there will be an large influx of players around Christmas.

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though I feel quite "doomy and gloomy" for lotro at the moment, I don't think they will shut down anytime soon. I still like the game, I will never forget how awesome it was in the beginning.

what I don't get is, why Turbine seems to do all that they can to estrange the loyal lotr fans from the game (I exclude the Turbine Fanboi Squad here, it seems ... either they're too deep in Turbine's behind to see or they're simply a very, very naive kind of people).

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I got a bit of fanboyism in me, as in I *want* the game to live and improve, rather than continue to be a money sink to all who want to just play the game. I really can't say how things will turn, but I wouldn't be too surprised if we paying customers would get shafted sometime in the near future. nopompom.gif

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if the marketing idiots have their way ... no ... I do not want to go there ... that's simply not a nice place.

I wonder where Berephon's in all this.

And I wouldn't be a Lifer and Founder if I didn't like the game (at least sometime in the now distant Codies past ... as they had to deal with the Turbine sods directly instead of us).

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My predictions for 2012 is that there will be a great number of predictions made ;)

I'll go one better than that: Some of those predictions will be positive, some will be negative. Yup, really putting my neck out with that one! :D

Now then, I don't think LOTRO will suffer too much from the new games coming down the pike. I'm now going to break out an old adage I used to use when I was active on the WoW Forums, and modify it to this discussion.

"No new game will kill LOTRO. The only thing that can kill LOTRO is LOTRO."

Turbine is their own worst enemy here. What they face in the next six months is a perfect storm of sorts: Multiple highly anticipated AAA MMORPGs on the horizon, and Turbine's flagship game is floundering a bit after their worst expansion release to date. Couple that with an account security fiasco, unrest due to customer service concerns on their own forums, and this all spells a lot of players leaving to the Greener Pastures of those new games.

Now, that said, Turbine is actually positioned well to weather this storm. Being F2P, players can come and go from LOTRO with ease, can move their subscription money to SWTOR while paying for new content in LOTRO if something strikes their fancy in a few months. But there has to be compelling content to draw those players back to LOTRO, or at least to encourage them to buy it ala carte while staying with their new game as well.

Those new instances in Update 5 will be a big test for Turbine. If they aren't absolutely stunning, and aren't followed by even more new, compelling content in updates throughout 2012, the players who leave for SWTOR and other games may well give up on LOTRO for good.

Again, the only thing that can kill LOTRO is LOTRO. I hope Turbine is up to this coming challenge.

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My hopes are like with any business, when there's competition it usually pushes businesses to thrive to be the best, to be better. I hope that maybe with the upcoming onslaught of great games that Turbine doesn't falter but instead rises to the challenge by kicking some ass ... but again ... it's just wishful thinking at this point. :/

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I think the main issue is that both Paiz and Steefel came from "There", and LOTRO is nothing like "There", but it seems to be what Paiz, and Turbine, is trying to turn it in to...a social community based around a store where you purchase material items to "show off" in the game. The story just happens to be a part of it, and from what it seems, they're driving off the story path as well.

So just think of it as "There" based on the LOTR books.

Although I will admit that I think Steefel did a better job than Paiz is doing now. At least he was consistent and followed through on things.

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Now, that said, Turbine is actually positioned well to weather this storm. Being F2P, players can come and go from LOTRO with ease, can move their subscription money to SWTOR while paying for new content in LOTRO if something strikes their fancy in a few months. But there has to be compelling content to draw those players back to LOTRO, or at least to encourage them to buy it ala carte while staying with their new game as well.

I agree, but a lot of it depends on if they get the price points right. When the TP store first opened, prices were fairly consistent with what was gained through purchase. Some things were even rather under priced (especially with those 80% off sales). But, they have been raising prices over the last six months to the point where many things are just way overpriced now. My understanding is that with RoI they even lowered the amount of TP available in that expansion and made it more difficult to obtain. Hopefully, they have reached the point where they are beginning to see a drop in revenue and will begin to back off again. Hopefully.

I also agree with this:

"No new game will kill LOTRO. The only thing that can kill LOTRO is LOTRO."

And, one way companies can kill themselves is going for the "short-term gain" while ignoring the "long-term pain." For example, basing executive compensation on short-term goals has taken out more than one company. As has trying to maximize short-term investor returns. I don't think I need to enumerate those companies and industries.

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I think the most amazing thing at this point is that people still have hope.

They let a lot of people down with Mirkwood. The masses said the next xpac has to be better or the game will die.

They let a lot of time go by in between, releasing the FTP model and all. It was almost 2 years before we saw another xpac - all the while people saying the impending xpac has to be significant (def better than Mirk) or the game will die.

They released RoI as a paid expansion - a package that, overall, contained less than some free updates. Certainly from an hours-of-new-playable-content standpoint. People are appalled and the game must certainly die.

But it's not dead.

Players have continually held onto their hope that the next corner is going to finally deliver. Moria set the standard for LotRO players and their expectations of what a paid xpac should be. And Turbine has progressively delivered less with subsequent paid xpacs. Why on Earth should anyone think that the next one has "got to be the killer xpac"?

It's not going to be. LotRO is over the hill. The best thing it's had going for it is the lack of quality alternatives. That has kept a large number of players here. A large number. The roar of the player base informing Turbine that the next xpac had better be the one has been deafening - pretty much since the release of Mirkwood. Was RoI "the one"?

Survey says it wasn't.

Do other MMO players hold false hope so tightly? Somehow, Turbine keeps holding onto players. Even monster-only players who have had nothing but the same 4-year old sandbox, a lot of broken promises and a steady reminder that this is not a PvP game. How do you justify staying? Of course now that the Store is the only thing that matters, it would be silly for Turbine to not market the hell out of the only competitive aspect of the game. They already have with those nice little consumable brands and shit. Pay to win. At least your 1v1s.

It all boils down to a lack of alternatives. AoC, Warhammer and even Rift weren't enough - but TOR might just be the one. So I guess I have to disagree that another game won't be the nail in the LotRO coffin. It will be, but only because Turbine has seeded enough discontent with enough people that it is well-known your loyalty to Turbine means nothing to them. It will not get you their respect. It will not get you their appreciation. It will not get you better support. It will not get you anything other than an email telling you what's on sale in the Store this week.

I would say that had Turbine given more respect to their community via more open community guidelines and less deceptive marketing and money-grabbing.... it might have been enough to make people feel right about their investment in LotRO. Their marketing strategy turned them into the antithesis of what it was when it started. With the lore of the game and the (initially) mature player base, they were set up to hold the attention of a very dedicated group of for a long long time. But now they care more about flash-in-the-panners. Their marketing strategies do not build trust. They do not earn praise. They earn distaste and scorn. They could have stayed true to the SoA-era players and even charged $10 for content updates + occasional expansions and probably remained profitable enough. But then came Papa Fudd (WB).

It might have been enough to cater to the initial playerbase rather than this new model we have. Even though they saw a spike, the more they grab, the more distrust they sow and the more people vow to never return. The main reason I'm still around is the lack of alternative. Turbine has done NOTHING to earn my loyalty or respect. Rather, the opposite. If I hadn't gone Lifer 3 years ago, I'd be long gone...

And I really do wonder who is spending all this money in the Store? Sure, some Premiums are around. But I'd bet that the VIP contingent spends more than anyone else. Why? Because they're the most invested in the game. And when they finally find their alternative, LotRO will become completely irrelevant. The arrow's been pointing that way for well over a year.

So my prediction is not a long, drawn-out demise. It will be quick and it will be the result of mass exodus to new quality alternatives; something that has been lacking pretty much since LotRO launched. Until then....there will only be hope.

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Although I believe the store will keep the game afloat as a BUSINESS ... I do have to agree with the last poster in that the game has become way to focused on making money instead of making quality content worth our hard earned dollars ... it's true I am one of those holding on to hope, mainly because I really love this game & don't want to see it die before it's time ... :(

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GW2 will likely occupy most of my gaming time. I'm a lifer so I'll still visit lotro occasionally to say high to other creeps and freeps, but I have been anxiously waiting for GW2 for, oh, a few decades. At least that's how it feels.

I think lotro is going to have to put in a lot of effort into keeping people playing AND paying.

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I predict...

... a whole lot of people will try out new games, some will like them and stay with them whilst others will be disapointed and come back to LotrO - hopefully Turbine will improve in its delivery of customer satisfaction but in the end things will continue pretty much as they have before - no, this is not Armageddon nor the end of the world as we know it - it's a game folks - tune down the drama! :-O

However, it isn't LOTRO so many are upset with as the company itself.... much the same as that one that was once SWG.

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I think lotro is going to have to put in a lot of effort into keeping people playing AND paying.

That was one of my points exactly. Those that don't mind spending the cash to play are most likely going to move where their willingness to spend money is much appreciated. Those that just want to play, but not pay, will stick with Turbine. After all, the abuse is directed at paying customers, not the free ones.

As an aside, I think it is interesting looking on the SW:TOR forums at how many players are appreciative of them going with a flat monthly rate model rather than the F2P (otherwise known as freemium in any other business outside MMOs). By this feedback, it gives a bit of an indication how little paying players really like the F2P model.

I have to say, I personally have moved on from LOTRO and forgot how nice it was to use an interface where I am not constantly bombarded with Buy Now!, On Sale for Two Weeks Only, Store Exclusive, buttons spammed throughout it. In the future, I'll stick with either expansion style revenue model (ala Guild Wars) or monthly subs. My experience with LOTRO and Turbine in particular, will have me running for the hills from any F2P model.

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I think lotro is going to have to put in a lot of effort into keeping people playing AND paying.

That's the most idiotic thing. I was perfectly happy as a VIP, even when I couldn't log in for > 4 weeks in a row. It's little money for people with a job and no kids, even for multiple accounts.

Then they eroded the value of VIP so much that I "had" to cut my losses. Now I have bought my equivalent of a lifetime sub and I don't see myself giving them another penny for the next 5 years of playing (extensions excluded).

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Don't forget server consolidations. In a mad rush to save the bottom line from being swallowed by overhead costs, 30 servers will be consolidated down into 10 under the premise, "You've been asking for it these past years, we are delivering!"

Remember that the servers are now logical servers, not physical servers. You are not running on a single computer, but rather on a computer farm. When you change zone you are moved from one node to another (typically when going from one area to another, or moving between copies of the same area). Less players mean less bandwith and less simulation. So they probably do not need to actually merge servers, just reduce the underlying hardware (or more likely just start allocating the hardware to some other task, like renting computing power).

The day WB want to put the lid on Lotro, I expect the game to switch to a very basic mode, with no GMs, more lag (even though there will be less players), and depopulated servers (this will discourage people faster than merging servers). If they really want to be mean they can pretend to be "hacked" and randomly delete some accounts, with no restoration policy. But with the LTAs around, they probably won't pull the plug abruptly (DDO is still running).

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Remember that the servers are now logical servers, not physical servers.

{snip}

...depopulated servers (this will discourage people faster than merging servers)...

The logical / physical -ness is beside the point. It is, as you later note, about server population, and is the point I made about sub-critical numbers. A server needs a certain amount of life for most MMO players. There are some who largely play MMO's as an online solo game, but for most the social element is important. Not Social as in the Bartle Test; but even a Killer needs someone around to kill! Servers that feel dead will struggle to keep players, whether they're current or new.

Yes, you're quite right, they can quietly & invisibly run down the physical side, but if numbers drop, you will see logical mergers too to try to maintain population density. I seem to remember hearing that there was a round of this in AoC when a lot of people bailed out of what was a horribly suppported, contentless launch (I left before my 3 month sub was up), and I'm sure they must have had a logical / physical set-up too. It would be unusual not to and, frankly, an admission of defeat-before-launch if you didn't!

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I have to believe they will have a serious drop in revenues due to SW:TOR and especially GW2 which has no subscription fee and doesn't depend on a store model. Rohan will not be much bigger than ROI unless they delay it until 2013.

LOTRO will be around a while, it's just that they can never meet the expectations of massive zones and content created by the original release.

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My kins been around since beta. The last couple of years most of the new people recruited have been refugess from dwindling kins. That always had me worried.

Since the content drought of 2010 and the sub-par Enedwaith zone, weve now started dwindling on logins massively. people left for WAR and Rift and WoW and didnt come back.

Of the players I know personally there is a lot of contenpt for Turbine and the Store, and a lot are planning to try Sw:Tor (including me).

Lotro will always have players, due to the f2p model, whether it will make a profit & continue running? Im taking the pessimistic view.

If it could happen to SWG it can happen to Lotro.

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SWG was destroyed by the NGE and Combat upgrade, ease of play favoring the small minded over planning and difficulty. The game was MUCH more enjoyable before that. I really miss running the Rifleman I had, he was a ranged powerhouse. They essentially 'WoW'd' it up. The addition of Jedi as a created character only made it worse.

But T could stand to learn from SWG. The ability to decorate a house in that game was unparalleled by anything to date. And the subscriber gifts were a good idea from them, to reward subscribers with unique items not found in the game any other way. I'll really miss all those holograms of Star Wars, Yoda, Vader, ships, etc. The developers in that game actually cared, it was the management that buggered the hell out of it. Just like LOTRO.

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