Lord of the Rings Online Goes Free To Play: Here’s Why

Some fairly recent news has emerged that Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) is going to have a free-to-play (F2P) option added. This has surprised quite a few people, but here’s why they’ve made the move:

It’s The Smart Thing To Do

Turbine obviously has the experience of Dungeons and Dragons Online experiencing 500% revenue growth when it went F2P, but that’s only part of the story. The other half is how players shift between games.

Remember the report that indicated that Dungeons and Dragons Online was the third most played Western MMO since it went F2P? Here’s that chart again:

NPD chart

Look at the games players move onto after World of Warcraft. Notice anything?

Runescape, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Guild Wars and even Final Fantasy XI all have something in common: they don’t have to cost you $15 a month to play them. Final Fantasy XI is $13. Guild Wars doesn’t charge monthly sub fees. DDO has the F2P option, plus other payment methods. Runescape also offers a F2P option.

In the current economic climate, players appear less likely to want to buy into a MMO only to find out that they don’t like it. F2P gives those players a decent trial and lets them pay what they want to. It gets new players over the penny gap and playing in a world where they may actually pay more than the sub fee (and thus help subsidise all those non-paying players. Going F2P is certainly going to open LOTRO up to a lot more players and help future-proof it against the newer, shinier MMOs that keep threatening to come out.

5 thoughts on “Lord of the Rings Online Goes Free To Play: Here’s Why

  1. I think there’s another aspect too that this very interesting blog post makes clear.

    When a dedicated player is thinking about quitting they often hit a sort of half in half out stage. Cancelling the WoW sub and subbing to something else is quite a commitment.

    On the other hand starting to mess about casually with a free to play while logging in to WoW to see if you can rekindle the enthusiasm is a much more viable exit strategy. Because most of us when we leave a long term game don’t really want to exit, we just wish we weren’t burned out.

    • Good point. I’ve kept my sub going to CoH/V because I haven’t yet been motivated enough to cancel it despite periods where I haven’t played much of it. Using free trials or F2P titles have also kept me playing MMOs where I’d never buy a box or put money down to try them out.

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