LotRO Gets Stat-Based Gear to “Create Solutions” for Low-Level Players

Back at E3 2010, Turbine told us all about their impending free-to-play makeover. Since then, they’ve seen revenues increase, launched the Isengard Expansion, and now they’re prepping for a big 2012. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of an uproar over on the official forums over a new addition to Turbine’s LotRO Store: gear that isn’t just cosmetic, but actually features stats as well.

Players have called Turbine out over this, calling it a slippery slope to LotRO becoming a ‘pay-to-win’ model,’ and saying ‘After this all pretenses are dropped and all bets are off. You’re making it a P2W game, Turbine.’

Rather than speculate on Turbine’s motives, we decided to go right to the source. Luckily, we were able to corral Turbine’s Director of Communications, Adam Mersky, to chat about what’s behind this addition to the LotRO Store.

“We have a lot of different players in the game. Lower level players are telling us that they are having difficulty obtaining good gear. This is us coming up with solutions to problems players are reporting to us. We’re trying to create solutions for players,” said Mersky. He was also quick to point out that just because something appears in the store doesn’t mean it’s a permanent thing, referring to other items they’ve removed, such as Sigils of Leveling in Dungeons & Dragons Online’s store. “We’re not adverse to pulling things off the store if they don’t work.”

We went on to discuss how selling gear could affect game balance, and Mersky was quick to point out that Turbine closely monitors game balance. “We’re committed to keeping things balanced,” he said. “Furthermore, we have no intention at this time of selling any raid gear in the store.” Mersky also emphasized that the LotRO playerbase has dramatically shifted since Turbine took over LotRO’s European operations from Codemasters, resulting in a whole new dynamic.

While it’s a bit worrisome that gear with stats appeared in the LotRO Store, it sounds like Turbine is well aware of how volatile this issue could be. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, but for now I think we can lay our pitchforks aside.

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17 Comments on LotRO Gets Stat-Based Gear to “Create Solutions” for Low-Level Players

Agra

On January 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Since I’m playing LotRO i never needed to use other gear than questrewards.

Em

On January 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

There are any number of ways to get great lower-level gear in LOTRO: buying from the auction house, asking members of their guild, asking over the chat channels or on the forum, buying from faction reputation vendors, skirmishing or running low-level instances (still very popular on all of my servers!), questing, or learning crafting professions themselves.

It’s money that Turbine is after, not “solutions”; by selling viable gear in the store, they are only making it easier for new players to remain un-involved in the game and its community.

Paul L

On January 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

This is a spit in the face, to the regular players.

The lower level NEW players are seeing Higher level players’ armour and saying “I want something like that”.
Quest rewarded armour is more than sufficient upto level 30 in the game. Then you start looking at the critted craft armour (Purple and Teal Items) Then towards level cap you start looking at the Raid Armour Sets.

I have a Guardian Class toon, at level 30. She is working on her Crafting and is currently crafting level 25 armour for sale on the Auction House.
These new Store Armours are for level 20+ and have far better Stats than any current craftable armour she can make, even for level 25+.(They are actually similar in Stats as level 28 gear)

That is not the only problem with these armours.
Crafted level 25 armour can be vendored off to the NPC for 5s ( can put on Auction House for any price )
The lowest of the new Store Armour can be vendored to the NPC for 125s, but cannot be traded, mailed or put on the Auction House.

Turbine have always said that Store bought Items cannot be vendored or sold in any way. These new items are in contradiction of their original ruling.

To a lot of players this is a move into RMT and ingame monetary selling. Pay store points for the armour, vendor it and earn ingame currency.

Ceridwen

On January 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I formerly had a very positive feeling about LOTRO. That’s probably because of the setting, because it’s based on Tolkien’s work, but the game has THE most positive, friendly, non-jerkish community ever. It’s much nicer for female gamers, and clearly has a more adult, mature community than most.

I’ve loved the game for years – I have 7 maxed characters, 3 of which are actively acquiring gear & instancing. I adore them. I play with family & friends, & I’ve brought many people to the game. I’ve labored over crafting, & tried every facet.

The Turbine Store has always had its questionable elements – things that speed up deeds, crafting, etc, which felt like paying to get the game as it should be. I used it far more than I should have, but this is too much. Turbine is now actively competing with its players, selling armor. They’ve been doing this already, yes, with potions & other craftable items, but this has been the most visibly disturbing addition yet.

I’ve watched the debates, and I’ve gotten the strong impression this is done, this is their chosen direction. I’m a lifetime subscriber – quitting the game won’t matter. But not playing WILL matter, because I’m not spending another Turbine point again. As the game shoves you toward the store (and it does – when you have to complete a deed for 500 stunning trolls, that speed up deed scroll will look like the only star in the sky) – I only see an effort to get me to buy more, not an effort to upgrade & improve the game in areas such as crafting or deeds.

I’m setting the game aside until and unless they reverse this policy. No story will compare to LOTR, but there’s many a game, both mmo & single player, that offers a real gaming experience and not a day at the MMO Mall.

Doug

On January 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Speak for yourself I am sharpening my pitchfork. When adam makes a commitment not to sell raid level gear why should we trust in that, given turbine’s commitment not to sell any stat gear? Selling store exclusive relics is already selling end game gear.

Having played some cheap f2p mmos such as perfect world I can see where this is heading.

Ian Charman

On January 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm

“We have a lot of d…blah blah PROFIT… blah blah.. MONEY.. blah blah HAHAHAHAHAHAH”

Arachnella

On January 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I find the proviso in Merck’s statement very telling: “we have no intention ***at this time*** of selling any raid gear in the store”, which clearly points at the fact that they are not, in principle, against selling it, just not at this time. This is a direction, which many people, including me, find disturbing and going against the very spirit of the gaming experience.

It has been explained by many players in the official feedback thread why, exactly, this change is highly disruptive (see, for example, an excellent summary post here: http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?440377-What-is-new-in-the-store-armors&p=5936757#post5936757. The underhanded way of handling the issue was an additional factor for concern: not only the stats armour was introduced into the store in a sneaky way, but the reason given for it does not hold any water. The statement of apparent shortage of low level gear on AH has been met with universal disbelief because it is not being supported by the actual experience of players (to put it simply, an overwhelming majority of players think it’s just a lie). As many players pointed out, there are lots of ways for obtaining ANY gear in the game, not just low level. Quest rewards, world drops, crafters in any large hub who often give gear for free or craft it for free, kin help — all this is more than enough, this helps to create the gaming community, and promotes in-game cooperation and activities.

In any case, adding extra gear to the store is not a proper answer to the problem — even if it exists, which I doubt very, very, very, very, very much.

Sellyoursoultothestore

On January 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm

To quote Arachnella – “I find the proviso in Merck’s statement very telling: “we have no intention ***at this time*** of selling any raid gear in the store”, which clearly points at the fact that they are not, in principle, against selling it, just not at this time.”

Exactly this. They said ‘we have no plans to go F2P” a couple of years ago, 3 months later, they announced they were going F2P. More Turbine Bull****

WrongTurnAtIsengard

On January 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Turbine is putting one of LOTRO’s best assets – it well-established, positive and supportive long-term player base – at severe risk with the decision to place Pay-2-Win items like this armour in the Store. It may well make Turbine/WB a bit of income in the short term, but losing the long-term players faith, trust and participation will hurt the game atmosphere and Turbine/WB’s income. Unfortunately, the damage will take place over time and the near-term impact will appear positive from a cash-flow basis. There is (as always) talk of a LOTRO-killer game ‘coming soon’ – I am afraid the true LOTRO-killer game will be LOTRO itself.

Zyaxis

On January 19, 2012 at 12:04 am

I think WB is the cause for this type of shnaigains! It’s the old corporate push for more profits. What they forget is that when you tell a lie long enough people start to believe it. The lie is that they are not doing this for profit. Will I hate to say this but soon people will start to think that is true. Tubine and more important WB does not want profits! so… If we are to take what they say as the truth. They don’t want profits, then we as the lotro community will just stop paying for anything. Let’s hold them to their lie! Everyone stop using your points. They told us they don’t need profits. Let’s hold them to this lie. And stop spending OUR money on their stuff. This way they will learn that when you lie you pay the price by having no truth to stand on. Or in this case no profits to stand on.

SeaEagle1

On January 19, 2012 at 4:15 am

“We have a lot of different players in the game. Lower level players are telling us that they are having difficulty obtaining good gear. This is us coming up with solutions to problems players are reporting to us. We’re trying to create solutions for players,” said Mersky.

And if that is the case (which I doubt) wouldn’t the solution be to make crafting and selling this gear in-game more appealing (as it is right now it’s often more profitable to sell raw materials than crafted products), fixing the actual problem with Lotro’s economy instead of selling a work-around in the cash shop, that’s better than anything else in-game at that level?

John

On January 19, 2012 at 7:21 am

I appreciate that we can get armor and other stuff to improve our toons with TP. I don’t like playing with other players for various reasons and will never get raid armor as a result. If this is the way turbine is going, I’m happy. I’m willing to pay real money to improve my game experience. If I could get these items in game, I would. I think the diehard player has trouble with this the most because it takes away from their elite status as anyone willing to pay cash can enjoy the game without their help.. I’d bet they used various acceleraters to get ahead many times but now they complain as it get easier for casual players can buy good items with TP. I sure hope raid gear is included in the store soon… I WILL BUY IT then my game experience will be better and enjoyable. If you have used the store at all, then you shouldn’t complain about this and set limits for others doing the same thing.

Star

On January 19, 2012 at 9:29 am

You people having issues with “corporations ” making a profit… We are all trying to make a profit aren’t we.. We want new regions to open and good customer service, need money to do that don’t they? Maybe they should have a server that has no store all. Everything must be earned in game. Transfer your toon and have at it. Quit crying, the game will still be be fun, just more people can enjoy.. Turbine makes money and we all get more game to play.

Em

On January 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

Star: Yes, I want Turbine to continue to make money so that they can produce more and better content.

However, there are lots of ways to do that without hurting the game & its community. Given the tremendous profit they’ve made NOT selling stat gear, do you really believe that this step is necessary?

Star

On January 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I cannot see how this in any way hurts the game. I agree with John, not everyone is as skilled or can be in a kin willing to be patient with them to get gear. Why should you care how a player gets gear? You get it with the help of friends, they pay $ to get it. So what! Did you ever buy anything to assist your toon? Sure you did. Don’t restrict others that are wanting to do the same thing. Not one quest or deed changes but more of us can enjoy gear that otherwise would not be available. If the raid gear becomes available, I will buy it.

SeaEagle1

On January 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm

You play an MMO and are surprised parts of the game might be unreachable because you don’t play with other players? Maybe I’m oldfashioned but I’d expect a MMO to focus on things like group play.

Regardless of whether you think selling gear is ok or not, they should not use the store to fix game problems. Next up are scrolls to reset bugged boss fights for $10 ? They’d make fortune with their current QA.

And for the record, all I’ve ever used the store for is to buy ROI with subscription points (and have enough points left to buy the next expansion as well). So not everyone buys an advantage once in a while. I’d just love to see evidence that the money they say they’re making by truckloads actually gets invested in this game, because it seems like at the moment they’re just trying to squeeze the last bit cash out of it with minimal effort.