The Economy of Turbine Points

January 18, 2013


I frequently hear people explain in disbelief about how much something costs in the LOTRO store. Usually the exasperation is followed by a conversation of how much this is worth in US dollars, as if Turbine Points is a currency that can be found traded on the foreign exchange market. This of course isn’t true at all. The value of Turbine Points is set by the marketing executives of Warner Brothers and not related to the value of real world currency.

Turbine Points is a form of virtual currency, meaning that it has no real value outside of the confines of the game itself. I cannot exchange the Turbine Points for my breakfast at Denny’s (even if they do have a Hobbit menu). It should also be noted that I cannot use Turbine Points in exchange for services within the game. I can’t exchange Turbine Points in exchange for someone a tailor crafting me a new pair of gloves, even if it is within the confines of the game. Yet, there is another form of currency that I can do this within the game. It is the gold, silver and copper that is part of the virtual economy of LOTRO.


Yet, purchasing Turbine Points is not the only way to obtain the virtual currency. Another method of obtaining them is to complete the numerous deeds that can be completed while playing the game. Usually you don’t earn much, maybe ten or five turbine points for each deed completed. Yet, I never once heard someone exclaim after earning the five turbine points after slaying thirty goblins in the Shire, “Turbine just gave me a nickle!”

Being a lifetime subscriber to LOTRO I also get 500 turbine points every month. This reward system is also available for those who subscribe to play the game. Of course this doesn’t mean that Turbine is giving me US$5 every month. (“Wow! Free money!”) It is just an incentive to purchase items in the LOTRO Store.

So, what is the value of Turbine Points? The value is no difference then seeing a beautiful dress in a store window. You take a look at it and fall in love with it. It is the dress of your dreams and would look so good on you! Then you look at the price tag and make another decision. Is the value of that dress worth what the retailer is asking for it? If you see the price tag saying $5 you might just rush in to buy that, what a value! Yet, if that price tag says $5000, you might not like the look of that dress any more. If the price tag says $500 you might hesitate a bit, but you think it is worth that much to you. Someone else looking at that exact same dress in the store window might not have the same opinion that it is the most awesome dress, ever, and selling it $500 or even $5 wouldn’t be worth it to her.

The same is true when you see the new horse that Turbine just came out with. It is the fastest, most beautiful horse, ever! Then you look at how many Turbine Points they are asking for it. You have 500 Turbine Points that you earned this month as a subscriber. You see the asking price is 5 Turbine Points. You can’t click the buy button fast enough! If it is 500 Turbine Points you might hesitate a bit, since it is all you got, but you buy it anyway. If it is 2000 Turbine Points you hesitate a bit, but decide to spend some real world currency to get the remaining Turbine Points to purchase the steed. If it is 5000 Turbine Points, the steed doesn’t look as good as it did before.

So the next time you see that need steed for sale in the LOTRO store and you just don’t like it, especially for 2000 Turbine Points, don’t say it isn’t worth $20, because it isn’t being sold for $20. Those are two different currencies entirely and are not compatible.

Avatar of Pinkfae

About Pinkfae

I feel in love with Tolkien's legendarium when I saw the 1977 film The Hobbit. I first read the Lord of the Rings the summer before starting high school. It has been a regular summer time activity for me every year since then. I have been enjoying playing Lord of the Rings Online ever since I first joined in July 2007. I have over two dozen characters created and played, but I mainly play on the Landroval server as a lore-master and also a spider.

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72 Responses to “The Economy of Turbine Points”

  1. susan Says:

    erm… totally disagree with this. Though I got a good giggle about the bit of how people dont get excited when they win turbine points and say turbine gave me a nickle. that is a great way to look at it! :)

    As for the rest, I dont see how you can say its not a valid currency, any item bought for real monies is a currency. Same goes for customer loyalty points for shopping at a certain shop, travel points for paying real money on tickets using a certain credit card, and the list goes on.

    Are they ‘real’ currency, no. But they translate into currency by what they ‘buy’ which can only be gotten thru loyalty points or by real currency. Of course they can only be used by corporation that ultimately benefits from the real currency these perks generate.


  2. Bryandt Says:

    Buying Turbine Points is a lot like buying Arcade Tokens (I think I may have dated myself here…). Yes, the tokens cost you real money. No, you can’t just put real money into the machines and play them. You have to buy tokens. Usually a lot of them. Luckily for you, there’s a cashier or even a vending machine that will let you exchange your real money for the tokens, usually at a set amount of money for a set amount of tokens. It’s like a miniature economy that only exists at that particular venue. But it’s still costing you real money.


    • khorgrim Says:

      Excellent example. Might just add that earning TP in game is similar to finding a token on the ground or in the return slot. Didn’t pay for it, but it spends just like the ones bought.


    • Adam Says:

      Exactly, Its like when they used to do the arcade token deals 1-£1, 3 for £2.50, 5 for £4, and 10 for £7, only even worse… a game could cost between 70p and £1 depending how you bought you tokens!

      TP’s can be like this too, they will cost different things to different people depending on the packages they buy, when they buy them, or any VIP status, and how much that is costing them, etc etc, and what they buy with them and when they buy that too!


  3. Avatar of Vræden
    Vræden Says:

    Turbine Points are not comparable to a foreign currency exchange because they are a one-way exchange. That is, once you buy the “fake” currency, it cannot be returned to a “real” currency. I think a more applicable analogy would be hotel reward points or airline miles.

    These are perks that are given for use by a vendor for use with their services only, rather than a cash reward which would be taken anywhere.

    As for the value of LOTRO store items as a dollar amount, they do have a “real” value since there is a direct exchange rate between the store price and a price in actual currency. The fact that lifetime and VIP subscribers get 500 TP per month for “free” or that you can earn TP in-game is irrelevant; there is still an exchange rate.

    If my credit card company offers me $1 “cash back” for every $100 I spend, if I buy a new Force FX lightsaber, the cost is still $100; the fact that the cost to me is $99 is immaterial.

    I have no problem with the way Turbine prices items in the store. If the market will not support the initial asking price, Turbine will adjust it accordingly (the Hobby Horse) or put it on sale (warsteed colour packs). However, I also have no illusions that the people setting the prices in the “fake” currency are thinking of that item generating “real” currency for turbine.


  4. Elrohir Says:

    All currencies are an abstract entity, dollars included. So saying that TP are less a currency than $ or € is only partially true. It’s all a matter of convention; what we need in the end is to trade goods with others, and we have created a series numbers just to keep track of our transactions and give them a very interesting property of numbers: metric, the ability to tell what is bigger than what. In this sense, TP fit the description quite accurately.

    You can’t use $ to purchase a cup of coffee in England, so you must accept that all currencies have a context limitation. It just happens that that of TP is very very narrow (to purchase a specific good from a specific supplier). This doesn’t make them less a currency either.

    As for the fact that Turbine can give away many TP as they please. Well, so does the government, new money is printed every yaer. This doesn’t make money “free”, because of a little thing called inflation: when new $ are created, people have more $ (not necessarily everyone, but the total money in existence grows) so if the goods in the country remain the same, they become more expensive because of offer and demand (people need the same things but have more money, sellers will raise the prices).

    So where’s TP inflation every time Turbine decides to put the TP mills to work? Simple: Turbine creates as many new goods (instances of the same content) as currency, so the price per unit is unchanged. This would be seen by an economist as increasing offer (and YES, this does obey o-d laws too). And this does not cost a dime to Turbine because both goods and currency are virtual, as imaginary as my invisible pink alicorn.

    In the real economy, currencies of diferent states have changing trade rates because of the changes in countries commercial performance. So what happens to that strict 100TP-1$ relationship? That is possible in real world too! You can google about some countries that forced strict exchange rates to $, such Argentina before the corralito. You will see that this is basically posible, though harmful for the economy. And Turbine knows this too! That’s why every now and then they launch double-bonus bundles: they are manually adjusting TP-$ trade rates to some extent, to mimic what a real international trade market would do, thus avoid harmfully abrupt falls and rises in player’s interest in the store.

    As you see, not only TP look a lot like a currency, but they DO obey every form of economic law that governs money.

    TLDR version: I think you are wrong because of reasons.


  5. Wyllo Says:

    I tend to agree with the responders.

    We can purchase TP with “real” currency, thus it can translate to whatever conversion rate Turbine sets.

    That being said, TP is treatd like any other allowance &/or savings, with the LOTRO store as our bank.

    As the consumer, we determine if costs are viable for our spending nature.
    We are fortunate that Turbine gives us TP for completing deeds etc.
    But, that does not make it any less “purchasable” or any more “free”.

    Like all ecconomies .. “buyer beware”


  6. Cyraith Says:

    I gotta disagree with this. While TP can be acquired many ways, the standard conversion ratio is set by dividing the point packs by their dollar cost. More USD means more TP at a cheaper 1TP/$ cost, but the ratio is directly correlative.

    So 1600 TP is $19.99. If you don’t count the so called “bonus” points, then we have 1250 TP for $19.99.

    Since most horses in the store cost 2000 TP, that means we have a rough equivalent of that horse being worth $35 (2 1250TP packs). Counting the bonus points (which aren’t really much of a “bonus” because points are an arbitrary currency), the horse is about $27 (1 1600TP pack + 1 60TP pack).

    So while the relative value of the currency does change, that does not mean we should not judge a store item’s value in USD.

    Looking at the way we acquire TP, the average cost is going to be about what each TP pack is worth.

    A subscriber pays $10 a month, and receives 500TP in return, which is about $5 of TP. Note, TP costs Turbine nothing, so essentially they’re getting the full $10 and giving us back in return the ability to buy (mostly) unnecessary items through their store.

    In one year, we receive roughly $60 in TP. 12 * 500TP is 6,000TP. If we consider we’re paying $10, and if we translated that into TP (for a non-subscriber), that would be $120 for 6,000TP.

    Compared to the table above, if we paid $120 for TP (not counting double store point days), we would get about 13,000TP. By this measurement, we ought to all deactivate our subscriptions! We’re getting drastically shortchanged. Considering region packs unlock account wide, and don’t cost all that much, I’d say its far more economical, and the value of that $120 in TP is substantially greater than a subscription.

    But I digress. The fact that TP can be translated into “$1 = x TP” means TP has a very real value, and that real value can be extrapolated to store items. Just because TP is acquired by deeds (the only way to get it free, excepting gifts), does not mean store items have any more or less value because that TP is free versus paid.

    A $19.99 video game is always going to be $19.99 whether I pay for it from my earned income, or whether I pay for it by picking up $19.99 of loose change I find on the ground.


  7. Pakita Says:

    Your argument that it’s not a currency because TP can’t be converted back into dollars is invalid. You probably never heard about non-convertible currencies like the Cuban Peso? Officially it can’t be converted to dollars or any other currency, but can still be used to buy bread or pay your rent (if you live on Cuba).
    Only because you can’t (officially) exchange Cuban national peso for dollars doesn’t mean that goods bought for peso have no value in dollars.


    • Andy Says:

      Random fact cuba is one of the few places I know of that doesnt accept scottish money at all. Unlike singapore that had a better rate than for english money last time I was there.

      Even the sassenachs can be cajoled into taking a scots note with a simple glance and the utterance of “how no?”


    • Avatar of Pinkfae
      Pinkfae Says:

      I never did make any statement that TP isn’t currency. I’m not an expert on Cuban economics at all, but I wanted to comment on this interesting observation of the Cuban peso.

      Do you realize that Cuba has two forms of currency? There is the Cuban peso and the Cuban convertible peso. I’m not sure when you attempted to do this or which currency you wanted. There has also been a US led financial/economic trade embargo against Cuba since 1960. You couldn’t exchange US dollars due to this embargo. It is also interesting to not that the value of the Cuban peso was based on the value of the Soviet ruble, but lost its value because of the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s. That’s about the time the Cuban convertible peso was printed, which is based on the US dollar! Like I said, I’m not an expert, but can’t understand how that would work since the US still has a trade embargo against Cuba.

      Yes, you are correct there is a form of “nonconvertible currency”, which you could argue that Turbine Points are. But usually this happens due to the national currency being “blocked” by other nations. In fact, another word for “nonconvertible currency” is “blocked currency”, but I don’t think you would make a good argument that somehow TP is being blocked by other nations.


    • Kevin Says:

      Actually the Cuba analogy sounds like the Arcade and Turbine situation.
      A currency that can be used for items in a closed, one way system with no conversion possible back to a “real” currency.


      • Avatar of Pinkfae
        Pinkfae Says:

        I’m agreeing with you here, but I never used the word “closed”. I said that it has no “real value outside of the confines of the game itself”.


        • VIP Says:

          …the only reason they have no value outside of the confines of the game is because they are a Turbine-exclusive currency.

          The problem is that you used this peculiarity as a basis of argueing against any real money>TP comparisons. We can argue about the specific conversion rate, but its absolutely not debatable that TP represent a monetary or time value (money and other barter currencies are in the end originally ways to make individual time tradeable).

          Just because Turbine does funny things with them and they are non-refundable doesnt make them lose the real money value they inherently have.


  8. Chip Evans Says:

    Hmmmm…. I disagree! My husband and often shout to one another “look! I found a nickel!” when we get TP for completing a deed or whatever. It is also followed by maniacal laughter…..


  9. Andy Says:

    I think because you can buy TP’s with real money the comparison will always be made when looking at the more expensive items like mounts. If someone lacks the TP’s ingame to buy the shiny mount then they’ll automatically have to see what the cash value is.

    While it may not be practical in a currency exchange it does have its use to those that might be better to spend the money on real world items rather than some pretty pixels.

    Comparisons certainly help for stuff like expansions that can be bought via both methods and might allow you to play the system a bit if you’re outwith the US market and able to use the exchange rates to your advantage.

    Value of the TP will vary from player to player and even from one account to another. My main account has a very healthy balance of around 10k but those, to me, have less value than the 1k or so on my f2p account.

    The lower quantity has a higher value as it more accurately indicates the amount of time I’ve spent playing those alts and I know all those TP’s will be needed and used at somepoint to buy content.

    The main account has had money spent on it with what was an annual injection of TP’s and all that’s left to buy is generally the fluff that I usually avoid so the quantity will likely go up as I level alts, deed etc.


  10. Duinathel Says:

    The trick is to understand that the second you buy TP that money is spent – gone. It isn’t there anymore and you have nothing left.

    Then enjoy whatever the points get you. That point total isn’t a bank account – it’s store credit that can’t be refunded. Seen like that, TP are a lot less frustrating and much more fun.

    And really, you do not need to spend a cent in this game if you don’t want to. That’s pretty miraculous for a game of this calibre.


  11. Royal Bob Says:

    Those 5 Turbine Points add up quickly along with the higher point deeds. Depending on prices/availability on your server, you might be able to keep making new toons and just mail them rep items for quick points. It’s almost like buying points using ingame money if you get the items from AH.


  12. Lanark Says:

    Value is like power, it resides where people believe it resides.(Thank you Varys!:)) The only inherent value anything has is what we place on it. Money, gold, gems, TP, none of them have any actual value. Part of the structure of our society is in placing value on things like this to make trade easier. It’s a trade of needs and wants which translates into values determined by the individual. That’s where the easy black and white answers end. Economies are fluid, changing and surprisingly personal. What one person or culture may value another may not need, want or might actively avoid.

    Earned is earned, whether it be time in-game grinding TP, at work making money or farming ore for the AH. I think most of us view in-game grinding/farming as recompense for our time spent, not for the imagined value of an in-game item. What most people seemed concerned with is are they getting enough enjoyment or use from the store item to balance how long it took them to earn the dollars or TP it took to get it.

    Now if Turbine was willing to trade some delicious Spiced Apple Pie and ale that my cook makes for warsteed cosmetics, I wouldn’t be opposed ;) The value they place on something that cost me time, real dollars (through my sub) and in-game silver is nothing to Turbine but people will buy it off the AH for the value they place on it.

    Placing value on anything is like trying to hit a shadowy moving target as we saw with the Hobby-Horse. I doubt many people need the Hobby Horse but still might want it. Is it worth the time it takes to gather 5000 TP or the $50 needed to trade for that amount? Obviously the answer was no and Turbine will have to rethink their idea of value.

    (As a side note, of course you could buy a pair of gloves in-game with TP if the tailor values it. Buy the TP and send the code to the tailor via the mail
    system. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s certainly possible.)

    I actually do say “Turbine gave me a nickle!” whenever I finish a deed. A whole shiny new nickle for the hour of time I just spent ridding my beloved Shire of spiders! /Sigh, perspective can be troublesome at times :D


    • hungoth Says:

      I agree. Time is the only factor the same for everyone, so it is the best denominator to compare values of currencies (whether real life or virtual). And still people value their time differently to add to equation. :-)


  13. Scott Says:

    This is why after 4 1/2 years I am not a VIP anymore. Everything can be bought with TP except moors access. TP represent real money or time spent grinding deeds for them. Either way after aquiring all quest packs and skirmishes and as many toon slots as you want, there is no need for VIP.


  14. Fusterian Says:

    Everything is worth what the market will bear for it.

    Turbine controls the turbine point market and as a result they get all the praise and derision that comes with public perception of that market. That you cannot purchase a sandwich with turbine points does not sever them from at least the perception of being connected to dollars. After all, one of the things you can buy in the dollar market is turbine points, and Turbine sets those prices. A one-way relationship is still a relationship.

    I think some of the reasons I hear a lot of displeasure with pricing in the LOTRO store comes from the fact that Turbine has customers with a range of turbine point wealth, and that they therefore must include some luxury items for the wealthy in the store to keep them interested. That the author is admittedly a part of the LOTRO turbine point ‘wealthy class’ (read: lifetime subscriber) is, I think, telling.

    For those of us who must either pay VIP subscriptions, buy points in the market, or grind out points, they tend to be kinda precious. Mix that with the natural desire to acquire everything available in the game and you get some disgruntled and vocal people.

    I, for one, am okay with crazy prices, in the turbine point market and in any other market. I am wise enough to know my own wealth, and if enough people agree with me then the price will become more attainable.


  15. truth Says:

    It is painfully obvious that TP DO HAVE value. Items from Cash Shop also do have monetary value. Already players ackowegedle that. Now it is just countries laws that do have acknowegedle this. Just a matter of time.


  16. mrtoad Says:

    Great article. I have to agree with Pinkfae here. I also think many of the responders are using a different definition of currency. Here’s my definition of currency:

    1) It can be traded for other currencies
    2) It can buy real-world goods
    3) People have faith in it that it represents something worthwhile

    So there you have it, TP sure as heck ain’t no currency, at least by points 1) and 2) :)

    I also agree with Pinkfae’s central thesis: “So the next time you see that need steed for sale in the LOTRO store and you just don’t like it, especially for 2000 Turbine Points, don’t say it isn’t worth $20, because it isn’t being sold for $20. Those are two different currencies entirely and are not compatible.”

    There are so many people acquiring TPs in different ways. Even amoung those who pay directly to purchase TPs, they pay for them at wildly varying rates. There is therefore no way to universalize what TP are worth in cash. Sure, you can do it for yourself in your own opinion and give TP some intangible “value,” but not for others and certainly not make game-wide generalizations.

    One last example, I personally see purchasing TP = supporting the hard-working developers at Turbine to continue making an awesome middle-earth game. Yes yes yes, I REALIZE that most others aren’t going to value TPs like that. I wouldn’t expect them to. But that’s how I see them


  17. Pasduil Says:

    A 2000 TP horse is being sold for $20 in exactly the same way that the service of sending a text message would be being sold for $20 if sending that message took $20 off the credit I had put on my pay-as-you-go phone.

    If you’re VIP, you’re exactly like someone with a pay-monthly contract phone who gets a certain allowance of calls and text messages per month. A 2000 TP horse costs you four months of allowance, so arguably that’s even more than $20.The comparison is muddied because you get a bunch of other things with your subscription, not just the TP.

    The only time it’s different and 2000 TP really is not roughly the same as spending $20 is if you are lifetime, when you are now literally paying nothing for your first 500 TP per month.

    Of course it’s true that it’s up to us to decide if having the horse or sending the text is worth $20 to us, or if we consider it a fair price to charge.

    But pricing psychology is complicated, and there is a whole field called behavioral economics devoted to things like why people consider some things good value or not, consider prices fair or unfair, sometimes decide to make personal sacrifices to hurt someone they think is being unfair etc.

    Bottom line, for most of us, lifers excepted, saying to ourselves: “Is that thing in the store worth $X to me?” is about as rational as we can get in our decision making.


    • Juan Fuentes Says:

      I think the last paragraph of this post sums up what’s really important on the TP/$ issue. It’s a matter of something being worth the spend to you or not.

      For example, I would very much rather buy one or two quest packs (or even three, if you wait for them to be on sale) than a horse for the same amount. Some people will buy swift travel access, because waiting for a char to get from X to Y is really annoying, while I don’t really mind. Some people would rather blow it all on cosmetics, etc, etc.

      It’s all up to you. I have never been a suscriber, not even for a month, because Turbine doesn’t take my credit card, I’m assuming because of the trade control we have in Venezuela. I’ve only bought TP through a “pay by phone” system, that allows me to be charged in my country’s currency. Adding up all the TP I’ve earned within the game. I’ve had a pretty good experience with it so far, and I’ve bought several quest packs, guild acess, trait slots, etc, most of it when it’s on sale. I even bought one freaking horse when it was on sale, just because.

      I don’t think TP should be seen as a currency. Someone up there made a really good example, comparing TP to arcade tokens. I remember that going in the arcade, some games cost more tokens than others. So it was a matter of how you wanted to spend your tokens, and what you wanted to play, knowing some things would be more expensive than others.


  18. Richard Stanley Says:

    Interesting article. As a contrast it reminds me of when pseudo intellectual conversations break out on Eldar GlobalLFF about ‘the market’ in lotro. Usually when someone has priced some shiny item a little high. The way some people justify their behaviour and agonise over the ‘market’ makes me think, y’know if you just applied these trading skills to the real world…

    Perhaps they do, I’ve met a few real life securities traders on Eldar….


  19. Ayalinda Says:

    The way I am reading the article, I think many people have missed the point of the article. The way I read it is that, its not that TP don’t have value, but that their value is subjective, and because value is subjective you cannot say how much it is worth in $/£ etc.

    Also at no point does Pinkfae say TP is not a currency, and in fact explicitly says it is. “Turbine Points is a form of virtual currency”. Which is kind of true. The bare minimum of a currency is it can be exchanged for goods and services.

    It is however a poor currency, because;
    Its acceptance is severely limited in scope.
    It has poor convertibility.
    There is no control on supply.

    I dispute that it is a currency at all. Remember it is not transferable, if I stop playing the game I have no ability or right to give my TP to someone else. TP is a form of consumer credit.


    • Adam Says:

      Yeah I agree, to me a $20 horse, is actually a £4-5 ($7) horse, both those statements could be equally true, and thats how I read this article too.

      Unlike any traditional currency which has a defined value for all ‘users’ turbine points can vary from individual to individual. Though I disagree that we shouldn’t say its worth $20, just that we should bear in mind the subjectivity and flexibility of this statement, because it very much is

      As an example; I am a lifetime VIP, I consider that investment repaid by now, and any points from that free, I now spend £60 a year on TP and only ever buy them during double points bonus, never any other time. All in all I get 20,000 TP a year for £60 ($95 ish), so for me, the value is much lower per TP, than it would be for another person paying for their VIP, or buying full price points and cards, etc, etc. Thats what should be born in mind, the $20 horse is only $20 if you actually spend that much to acquire it.


  20. Jag Says:

    It’s obvious that the OP has a distorted perspective on the nature of Turbine Points, and has likely never purchased any with US Dollars, having amassed them through their 500/mo lifetime account. Let’s take $20 out of Pinkfae’s purse to purchase 2000 Turbine Points, and have her buy a new Mount to make things a little more clear.


    • Avatar of Goldenstar
      Goldenstar Says:

      Warning: you are border line bringing down the wrath of Goldenstar with your comment. You are free to disagree and give examples of why you disagree but lets not point fingers and assume behaviors of the author that you know nothing about. He’s sharing his opinion, you are free to share yours. Do it nicely or … RAWR


    • Avatar of Pinkfae
      Pinkfae Says:

      I took no offense at all by this comment, or any of the comments for that matter.

      I have purchased Turbine Points before. Usually when there is something in the store I want and I don’t have the points available. For me it is a cost/benefit analysis. I ask myself do I really need this now or can I wait until I earn them? If I want them now then I throw down the real-life currency to obtain more of the virtual currency.

      I did have a little chuckle with your begging me for $20 so that you can get 2000 Turbine Points. It reminds me of what I do when I see people in the street begging for money because they need to buy something, usually food. I actually never give money to someone, but I offer to get them want they want.

      Here’s a real life story. I work in downtown Chicago and live in the ‘burbs. I was walking to my train one day and walked pass this young lady asking for money for a train ticket. After I got down the steps, I glanced at the board in front of me with the train schedule. I thought to myself, I could take a later train, and I was not in a rush. I went back up the steps to her and asked where she was going. After she told me I told her that I’d buy a ticket.

      She had this shocked looked on her face, but agreed. It was rush hour, so there was a line. I got to talk to her for a bit. She was wearing a t-shirt with Gir on it, so the first topic was Invader Zim. Then she explained her situation to me. She was a foster child and now being too old for the program didn’t have a place to stay. She moved out her with a guy that was abusive towards her, and she was going to get away.

      After all was said and done. She was crying which made me cry and we parted ways. I often wonder what became of her.

      I would like to think that me taking time out of my life, listening to her story and purchasing the ticket held more value to her then me just giving her money.


  21. Jag Says:

    Fair Enough. If I ask nicely, do you think Pinkfae will buy me a Turbine Point Gift Card?


  22. Groo Says:

    I understand the OP position.

    Lifers don’t see a connection between TP and money now, since they (might) no longer purchase TP. TP to them may hold no “real” currency value.

    VIP’ers see TP as more of an allowance, partially tied to their monthly payment

    Completely Free2Play’ers will see TP as a combination of 200 orcs, 180 trolls, and completing 5 instance deeds in Angmar

    Premiums will see TP as a direct link between real currency since they are consistently buying TP with real world money.

    So, the OP’s statement is true in that just because I see 2000 TP and think $20 doesn’t necessarily hold true for everyone else I run across in game.


    • Ian Says:

      I see all my Turbine Points gained via my lifetime account as Turbine Points id otherwise have to buy with my real currency so that connection isn’t lost on me for a second.

      Id be more inclined to buy lotro expansions with real currency (if the only other choice was to make a one off purchase of TP) because that would be cheaper than purchasing them in the store with Turbine Points if i didn’t have a 500tp/month stipend.

      I think Lotro was a better deal when it was a flat subscription fee, death by a thousand needles as it is now.


  23. Mave Says:

    As a lifer who gets 500 every month AND frequently buys TP, I totally disagree with what’s being said here. TP is very much a currency that can be translated into cash value. Just because Turbine gives store credit as incentives for performing certain deeds (deeds translate into a fair amount of played gametime, BTW, and Turbine wants people playing the game), that doesn’t make it any less true that it has a monetary value.

    Unlike Airmiles, for example, TP can be bought with real money, at pretty consistent rates of exchange. Incentives to play (VIP TP, deed TP) cannot negate that.

    Have you ever heard of Canadian Tire money? It’s a virtual currency that is given away in the form of store credit coupons by a retail store here in Canada. When someone makes a purchase at Canadian Tire, they get some of the value of that purchase back in Canadian Tire money. People can then use that CT money to purchase anything in the store. Just because they can’t use CT money in any other store, that doesn’t make the goods in a Canadian Tire any less valuable for cash purchase. CT is just an incentive to keep purchasing at Canadian Tire. The same is true with TP (and any other online or in-game currency).

    Implementing virtual currency instead allowing direct cash purchases is an intentional marketing tactic to keep people “here” instead of at another store. The inability to convert virtual currency back into real-world currency is the whole point. Buying virtual store credit means I will keep shopping at that store. I have no choice once I’ve got the virtual currency, to spend it at that one place. It also means that in my mind, the value of the virtual currency will become abstracted and I will lose track of how much money I am actually spending on things. That makes me more likely to feel comfortable spending more.

    If I buy a house in Cityville for 1300 coins, the cost is relatively meaningless to me outside of the game itself. I will only consider that cost relative to how many coins I have. But if I were to buy that same house for $3, then I will be truly conscious of how much I am spending. “Holy crap, $3 for a virtual house?”

    Casinos do the same thing to keep people gambling. They create some distance in people’s minds between actual money and the currency they are throwing down the toilet.

    By arguing that people should stop thinking of TP items as having a cash value, you are effectively arguing that people shouldn’t try to remain conscious of the real value of their currency. In other words, you’re effectively doing the marketing dirty work for those who want to keep us unaware of what we’re spending. I think it’s useful for people to try to keep TP (and any other virtual currency they engage with) in proper monetary perspective, so they don’t fall into a “cash is an abstract concept here” trance. I’m sure Turbine/WB are as annoyed as you are that we continue to see TP in terms of cash value, although perhaps for different reasons.


  24. Morphen Says:

    Also totally disagree… anything bought with real money has a real money value.


  25. Smugglin Says:

    I wonder, after playing a bit of GW2, if Turbine will add a sort of gold to TP or Tp to gold system ? I’ve been levelinga LM lately and have used alot of those 5 pack 100 xp consumables . They cost 600Tp. 600tp cost $7.99 US. There is nothing abstract about this transaction. Believe me , my wife has explained this to me while angrily shaking our bank account statement at me.


  26. Eppy Says:

    I buy points bundles with money or grind them with time. Both the money I spent on the bundle and the time I spent grinding have a “value” to me. I associate the TP I get that way as such. They are certainly not valueless for me just because I can’t exchange them back to real world cash.

    I hear many people on VIP say they get 500TP “free” when in fact they are exchanging a monthly cash fee to get them.

    I probably value TP more because I only buy bundles maybe once a year and grind the rest. If the store was a direct cash store with small prices I would probably buy more often. Spending $8 at a fast food stop is no biggy, but spending 800TP on anything takes much deliberation and often months of waiting (still haven’t got the 6th bag).

    In short I generally approximate 100 TP = $1 USD when placing a “value”.


  27. Jim Says:

    There are two categories of LotRO players:

    1. Those who feel the store is part of the game

    2. Those who feel the store is auxiliary to the game.

    Both viewpoints are valid. For me, as Knowfere noted, playing LotRO f2p w/o accessing the store is simply not an enjoyable experience, akin to going to Disneyland without getting any ice cream or souvenirs and having to spend twice as long in line for rides than wealthier attendees.

    The sad part about LotRO post f2p, and other f2p games in general, is that the obvious chasm that exists between the haves and have-nots that exist in RL, the very RL that mmorpgs are a supposed escape from, has become part of our Middle Earth experience.


  28. Braxwolf Says:

    Actually, I *do* yell over to my wife that I’ve earned a nickel every time I get 5 TP. Maybe I just like the thought of being paid to play ;)


  29. Toreldor Says:

    Like several of the comments have noted, I think this comes down to each individuals ‘perceived value’ of TP and the perceived cost of items in the store. While there is sometimes (not always) a correlation between TP and how much cash/time you need to fork over, some people prefer to convert to their preferred frame of reference. This is not unlike people converting between metric and imperial to decide whether something is hot/cold, big/small, slow/fast or heavy/light. Perhaps people should consider the cost of items relative to each other in the store rather than attempting do convert all prices to a local currency.

    obligatory xkcd reference:


  30. Goreamir Says:

    I see them as worth whatever you paid for them, or what you would have paid for them if Turbine had not given them to you.


  31. Brainslug Says:

    “The value of Turbine Points is set by the marketing executives of Warner Brothers and not related to the value of real world currency.”

    Wrong. The value of Turbine Points is set by the different players.

    While some treasure each TP they get like a golden ring they got for their birthday and very carefully decide wheter or not they want to spend, others see something in the store they like and just buy it.
    While some people ‘farm’ TP on a fresh character, delete and start over, others use Paypal or whatever and just buy points.

    Yes, they are a currency: You pay for them to aquire things you can’t get otherwise or can’t get right away. And (unless you’re grindzilla) you pay with real life money.

    So if someone says that a 2k TP for a horse would be 20$ on the table … He/She’s right.


  32. Laruadoc Says:

    If the only way to get TP was earning them in game it would be a moot point.

    As long as I can buy TP with real money then items in the store have a real money value, whether I got the TP as a gift (earned ingame) or purchased them does not matter.


  33. Cedrowald of Vilya Says:

    TP isn’t cash, in the pure economics term (that is a medium utilized to regulate exchange of goods under contract) but it is a near equivalent whose actions and uses can be studied with monetary theory. The closest approximation would be to the Company Scrip used, in particular, by railroad, mining, and logging companies (and sharecropping farmers as well). The company would issue a “scrip” in lieu of wages in USD so the onversion from a USD equivalent (the value of the wages) into a company controlled currency is the same, as is the requirement that such Scrip be used in company stores/taverns/etc (TP can only be used in game). We also have the near run equivalency in the difficulty in exchanging from Scrip into cash, in practice such things were done but the exchange rate was horrible (right now since its an EULA violation a similair situation would exist with buying TP for items/character enhancements which are then converted either to in-game gold and then sold online or sold to power-levelling groups; in all of that the nature of middle-men profits means that the conversion from cash to game currency and back to cash occurs at a horrible loss even above and beyond the risk of losing one’s account for such a violation of terms).

    What this really means is that Turbine Points ARE a currency, just as mining companies could pay bonuses beyond standard wages in company scrip the equivalent would be Turbine paying TP for deed completion even though no cash was exchanged. The comparison isn’t perfect in particualr since the total inability to convert directly abck to cash legally (even if at a loss) means it doesn’t quite match Scrips from the 19th century but its a far more apt comparison than anything else out there.

    As an aside this DOES mean that one shoudl apply economic theory to purchases and it lends credence to the valuaiton of TP in USD or the native currency a user purchases with. The scrip has a one-way equivalency which means in terms of adjuting for personal value the conversion is both apt and probably the most efficient way to analyzing the cost benefit ratio (the alternative being to calculate the cost in terms of time in obtaining TP via alternate means and comparing that against value of the time against cash value which would be the complete analysis required to make a valid model).


  34. Syahwhit Says:

    Just a quick thought. I have to agree with what most responses have said, in that TPs are a real currency within the limited venue. However, don’t give them too much value, or we may have to start adding virtual currencies in this and other games and online inter-activities to our Tax reports. So, understand that while the Turbine Points can be purchased with ‘real world’ money, or earned, just be glad they are not currently taxed, and pray they never are.


  35. Katarin Says:

    $20 isn’t bad for a steed, mine cost $800 and it wasn’t even rideable :P


  36. Arrano Says:

    I must add my voice to those disagreeing with the author. The author’s premise, as I understand it, is that TP can’t be assigned a real-world value for two reasons: first, it can only be used within the extremely limited confines of the LOTRO store; and second, it is not solely obtainable through purchase with “real” currency. Neither of these arguments hold up.

    Usability has no impact on the ability to assign value to TP. A good analogy would be to scrips given to miners in a 19th Century mining town. The company that owned all of the business in town would pay their workers in scrips rather than actual cash. These scrips could only be redeemed in the company store. The limits imposed on the workers’ ability to redeem their scrips doesn’t negate the fact that the scrip is worth an approximate value of goods and services. TP is much the same.

    How TP is obtained also does not affect the value associated with it, primarily because Turbine has a (roughly) set exchange rate in place. The value of the TP in my account does not change depending on whether I purchased them or was granted them as part of my subscription because Turbine decrees what their value is.

    Separately from the flaws in the argument, I have to say this post seems poorly written. I don’t know whether it is a language issue (EASL?) or perhaps poor editing, but many sentences seemed disjointed and the explanations and analogies don’t appear very cogent.


  37. Elleri Says:



  38. Berethron Says:

    You think TP are not a taxable currency? Or that they have a subjective value? Think again:


    • Cedrowald of Vilya Says:

      ARV is actually not neccessarily determinative of whether or not the TP themselves have value as a currency. ARV is used in the US for taxation of contest winnings and since a contest (or contract) is legally impermissable without some form of consideration (legal term which bears examintaion in its own right) things that might not have an inherent or “actual” value are given an ARV which must (usually) be provided for tax purposes. In other words saying that 100,000 TP has an ARV of $1,000 does not set the former as an exchangable currency but rather an object whose purchase would require the expenditure of approximately $1,000 (and thus the value which would be used to calculate the winnings for taxable income purposes).

      Basically ARV simply indicates that 100,000 TP would cost you ~$1,000 IF you purchased it so that’s your taxable income if you win it, i does not serve as a legal recognition of inherent value to TPs since the contest also includes this neat line: “All Prizes are virtual or available online and can only be redeemed by playing The Lord of the Rings Online game.” That is even though the prizes have an ARV they are “virtual” and thus have no inherent value. A reading of the contest rules as a contract would require rendering the whole as closely in alignment as possible and to my kowledge no court has yet ruled on any substanative argument about such statements.


  39. Samraffel Says:

    Level up your gaming with Rohan Points, the official currency of Playrohan Portal. Earn or Buy Rohan Points by completing easy offers, winning contests, using Fanup toolbar and more!


  40. Tyler Says:

    Personally, my friend and I have always said things like “Turbine gave me a nickel!” when getting 5 TP. It helps to keep things in perspective.


  41. wumpus Says:

    Try telling the IRS that they don’t have value. I checked the fine print of a DDO sweepstakes that included grand prizes of lifetime VIP status (never sold for for DDO) and 100000 (or more) turbine points.

    After figuring out I would have to pay the IRS several hundred dollars for the “free TP” I didn’t participate (oddly enough, it wasn’t even open to non-US participants who might have benefited from it). If you can find the sweepstakes, it should tell you exactly how Turbine “officially values” TP.


    • Cedrowald of Vilya Says:

      See above for why ARV (and thus taxable earnings) don’t have a bearing on the determination of “inherent value” for TP.


  42. wumpus Says:

    Postscript for above: In retrospect, Turbine makes “being nickled and dimed” a much more pleasant experience (LOTRO only, DDO grants 25TP (or more) at much lower frequencies).


  43. Reuben C. Says:

    I know none of you are going to take notice of my important comment, but I’m going to try hard for you all to listen to what I have to say.

    Am I the only one with a Turbine card problem? I went to Wal-Mart to fix the problem with me turning in my 1,600 Turbine points. The first card didn’t work after I tried over 30 times to redeem my points. Today, I went through a lot of trouble going back to Wal-Mart to get a different Turbine point card. I felt so relieved of putting an end to this problem.

    I was wrong – the Turbine point card that I tried today didn’t work! Gosh, I feel so upset over the problem that Wal-Mart cannot seem to fix. This is the complete downside of having a good habit of redeeming Turbine point cards. It seems as though I am at a loss.

    For months, I had enjoyed buying Turbine point cards and using them for the benefit of my characters on LOTRO. Is the LOTRO store still broken? Forgive me if I am going off-topic, but does everyone have the right to earn Turbine points with their own cash? Does anyone get to have those points and spend them for a good cause?

    All these questions may never be answered. Lastly, if Turbine really values every player on LOTRO, they should really fix the problem with turning in cards for Turbine points.

    Well, I really hope nobody else won’t have the same Turbine card problem that I can’t seem to escape from. May my voice of hope be heard.



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