Posted on January 18, 2012, Ron Whitaker 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.