Do MMO publishers want your money?

November 15, 2013

General, Opinions, Out-of-Game

Of course the answer is “yes”. All businesses want to make money. That’s why they exist. The publishers who put out and maintain MMOs are all more than happy to accept your money, whether it is from the initial purchase of their game, subscription fees, collectibles, expansions or buying whatever fake currency their game uses.

But the deeper question here is this: Do MMO publishers want your money?

I throw this out there because some kinmates of mine who participated in the Helm’s Deep beta came back with some opinions on the changes and have been talking about them since the NDA was lifted. In a discussion about the merits of the class changes between the beta testers and the developers, one of the impressions a couple of them came away with was Turbine saying, “If you don’t like the changes, go away.”

Let me start by saying that I did not participate in the Helm’s Deep beta, so I am not privy to the beta forums and did not participate in the conversations that went on between the beta testers and the developers, so what I am relaying to you is at best second hand. In addition, even though the NDA was lifted, the beta testers still may not copy or quote anything directly from the beta forums.

Apparently, in responding to complaints about some of the changes, person(s) representing the dev team said something to the effect of, “90% of LOTRO players were casual players” and if “the other 10% don’t like the changes, tough [cookies].” My friends went on to say that the general feeling is that the game is being nerfed so that it’s easier for casual players to access and advance at the expense of hardcore raiders, who feel that the changes are not beneficial to the game.1

Without getting into the merits of that argument,2 let’s boil this down to the root issue: money.

Turbine is in the business of selling something. With LOTRO, they’ve got a brand that is very strong, especially with the second movie in The Hobbit series coming out in six weeks or so. They’ve also been very successful in monetizing the product that they have using the free-to-play micro-transaction model that wrings cash out of subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

So what risk does Turbine take when they intentionally alienate a portion of their subscribers?

Consider this:

Earlier this year, I was in the market for a new car. My list of “essentials” (ie-showstoppers) looks like this:

  • Rear or four-wheel drive
  • Six cylinders
  • 3 pedals

There are some other features I like to have, but aren’t necessary (red, 2 doors, navigation, heated leather seats, etc.). But if you take that feature list and compare it to the available cars in my budget range, there is a very short list of vehicles out there for me to consider, with nothing in my preferred brands.

The question there is: Do automakers care about what I want?

For the most part, the answer is “no”. To date, the best-selling passenger cars/trucks for 2013 are:

  1. Ford F-Series
  2. Chevy Silverado
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Dodge Ram pickup
  5. Honda Accord
  6. Toyota Corolla/Matrix
  7. Honda Civic
  8. Ford Escape
  9. Honda CR-V
  10. Nissan Altima

It’s all pickups, sedans and crossover SUVs. There’s nary a sports car/mid-life crisis in sight.  I fully realize that what I am looking for in a car is way outside of what mainstream car buyers want, but I think this also plays to this particular circumstance.

Sure there’s the V-6 Mustang and Camaro, but my personal experience with both Ford and GM is less than complimentary, and they make it hard as hell to find one with a manual transmission.3 There’s also the Nissan 370Z, the BMW 328i and Hyundai Genesis Coupe. But the days when there were a wider variety of cars in this market (3000GT/Stealth, Supra, RX-7/84) are gone. In fact, I’ve been begging Toyota for years to bring back the Supra, but the closest they’ve come is the FR-S/BR-Z project they ran with Subaru, and I don’t want a 4 cylinder car.5

My point is that many automakers have intentionally abandoned this market segment because it’s not profitable.  Toyota doesn’t want my money.  Mazda doesn’t want my money.  Mitsubishi doesn’t want my money.  Honda doesn’t want my money.

That leaves me (the consumer) with the choice to either go to a different manufacturer who still sells the basic kind of car I want, buy used, move into a different price bracket, or buy a product I really don’t want.

Based on what my friends have said about their interactions with the Turbine devs and marketing team, I think we’re seeing the same thing with MMOs.

I don’t mean to pick on Turbine, but you know that Trion, Perfect World, Blizzard, EA, Sony et al employ legions of demographers who analyze the market, their subscriber base and the game to see what parts are the most profitable, and weighs the risks/rewards of any changes made to the game in terms of the balance ledger, not based on how well received any changes will be on the forums.6

So the MMO publisher looks at who is costing them the most money, and who is generating the most money. In the case of LOTRO, what portion of the subscribers are hardcore raiders? What portion are casual players? Who falls in-between?  Who is buying points from the LOTRO Store?

Yes, the raider may be paying $15 a month for their subscription. But they may also have bought a lifetime account for $200 three years ago (when they were on sale), and is now generating no monthly revenue. In fact, the person with the lifetime account is costing Turbine money because they’re taking up server bandwidth but not contributing to the coffers.7  Even if they paid $300 for their lifetime account, after 20 months at the standard LOTRO subscription price of $15 per month, that account is a liability—not an asset—to the game.

To what end should Turbine go to make its players happy? After all, without subscribers and paying customers, MMOs go away. What recourse do you (the player) have if they make changes to your beloved MMO that you not only don’t like, but loathe?

As a consumer and patron of Turbine’s game, the only real leverage you (individually) have is to cancel your subscription and tell all of your friends that you would prefer not to patronise their product.8  It is the threat (real or perceived) of a boycott or economic sanction that aligns the product of a service provider with the demands of its customer base.

How many players have to leave for Turbine to take notice? Will players really leave after the class changes? What percentage of the players who leave will be replaced by new subscriptions?

For me, I don’t have any comment on the changes to the game (although I am a bit apprehensive based on what I’ve read and heard from my friends) and I won’t say until I log in and play under the new system.9 But we all know people who don’t handle things well when the cheese moves, and they may bolt for the doors the day after the updates go live.

The bigger issue is this: Does Turbine even care what you or I do?

If Turbine decides that they would rather chase casual players than hardcore players, that’s a conscious business decision that they’re making. That is, they’ve determined from their data mining that their revenue streams are not coming in from the 5% of players who log on from 7 PM on Friday night, play until the sun comes up, and who belong to kinships that require 30% percent participation in all raids in a month or a player is demoted or expelled.10

Their money is made from the folks who pay a monthly subscription fee, and then shell out real money to buy fake money to purchase items/rewards/fluff in the game, and then go back for more. After all, how much real money is generated from raiding or grinding dailies as opposed to festivals?

Most players are not hardcore raiders. Hardcore raiders may devote tens of hours per month playing LOTRO, but that leaves their revenue per hour played very low, unless they are also spending gobs of real money purchasing Turbine Points from the store.

One thing I’ve also noticed is that every time there is an expansion or change to the game, there is a certain portion of the player base who kvetches and complains and threatens to leave. Some actually do, some are just making empty threats and some people leave but end up coming back for some reason.

Another issue which comes to mind revolves around matching the kind of game players want with the kind of game Turbine wants to sell. Do players want a raid-centric game? Some certainly do, but others find the music and cosmetic system to be their thing. Others like playing creeps in the Moors. Others like role-playing. Or crafting. Or whatever.

LOTRO is an old (by MMO standards) game, and it may be nearing the end of its life cycle. When I started playing (just after Mirkwood opened), I read that they planned to have about 7 years’ worth of source material at the rate expansions were being developed. Unlike say, WoW or SWTOR, there is a defined end to plot when Sauron is defeated, the Hobbits return to the Shire and the Fourth Age begins. What will be done when they run out of epic story? Replace LOTRO with another Middle-Earth game? Ramble on “as is” until someone shuts out the lights? What if we are seeing the groundwork being laid for a completely new engine?

One other thing I wonder about is whether the old mechanics alienate new players because of all the nuance and grinding. Is the intent to steal players from other MMOs, who by now are used to WoW’s talent tree system, because that seems to pervade all new MMOs?11 If the changes do drive subscribers away from LOTRO, what portion will return when a suitable replacement game cannot be found?

I fully understand why Turbine is gearing their marketing and gameplay towards the casual player. That’s where the money is. To pretend otherwise is foolish.

And that’s why the roads are flooded with Camrys, while I am still desperately trying to find the spiritual descendant to the Supra now that I can afford one. Whether I permanently leave LOTRO for another game remains to be seen.


  1. I want to reiterate that I do not know exactly what was said, either on the part of the beta testers, or on the part of the people representing Turbine.  I am relaying what I was told and my friends’s impressions of the game and Turbine’s official responses to criticism of the class changes.
  2. I will address the class changes and review the Helm’s Deep expansion after I’ve had a chance to play the live version.
  3. My ’87 Taurus died on prom night (in 1990) and my ’01 Alero was the biggest piece of crap anyone ever slapped 4 wheels on and called a “car”. I’m also not a muscle car guy, but that’s also a matter of personal preference.
  4. Yes, I know the RX had a rotary engine; I owned one, but I’m throwing it in because it fits the class.
  5. I ended up with a Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track, in case you’re curious.
  6. Pandas, anyone?
  7. And they’re getting 500 Turbine Points every month for “free”.
  8. As I indicated previously, lifetime subscribers have even less leverage because they cannot cancel their subscriptions, and it may very well be fact that Turbine would rather those players not utilise their accounts, which are not generating any monthly revenues.
  9. Having said that, I’ve already dropped my account to F2P once, and I’ll probably do so again when my current 3 month subscription cycle ends because I’m spending a lot of time playing SWTOR.
  10. That number of 5% is something I just made up.  It’s a guess, really.  The percentage of hardcore raiders among the player population may be more or less than that, but that’s my general estimate.
  11. And before you say, “Trait trees should never be in LOTRO!!!”, remember that they’re already in the game. The mounted combat trait system is the WoW-style trait tree.
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Avatar of Vræden

About Vræden

I was suckered into playing an MMO by some friends and have been stuck around ever since. My "main" is a minstrel on the Elendilmir server, but I'm a pretty casual player who likes a good raid every now and then. My healing skills are spectacularly average, and I am known as the Elf Queen of Lousy Healing to my friends. I like long walks on the beach, puppies and mowing down orcs by the dozen. If you see me in-game, say hi or send me a tell. You can also email me or follow me on the Twitter.

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26 Responses to “Do MMO publishers want your money?”

  1. Avatar of Longstride
    Longstride Says:

    Vraeden, you have hit the nail on the head here and articulated something that I have been rambling about for months. As a player who first subscribed at the launch of LoTRO, I have played faithfully for the last six (almost sever) years. I have been in every beta, I have completed and led every raid, and I have immensely enjoyed Role-play and other aspects of the game. I did not buy the Lifetime account because I did not mind the subscription fee and wanted to give Turbine as much patronage as I could. However, after all these years of dutifully forking over my money,they have slammed the door in my face. I unsubscribed from LoTRO in June of this year. I did participate in the Helm’s Deep Beta; and I, like your friends, was essentially told where the door was. It saddens me to see Warner Brothers turning the game on its head and away from the fundamental design philosophy that has made the game such a success, but c’est la vie. Thank you for your article!

    Reply

  2. Elrohir Says:

    IMHO Lotro has never been a game aligned with the traditional hardcore style. Yes, there is people who only raid and raid, never caring about anything else, but frankly most raiders I know in lotro DO enjoy the petty things too. The small area of PvP and the overall atmosphere that rewards contribution more than competition favour a different kind of player.

    I had a friend who tried lotro and didn’t like it because everything between The Shire and Moria was “filler” in his eyes. Needless to say, he loves LoL and DoTA. This is for me a strong indicator of what some lotro detractors want: they don’t want the RPG part in a MMORPG, they just want the rich character building that comes along with it, but only to run that character again and again through the same (relatively short) challenge scenario in a multiplayer game.

    Still, the design of group content in lotro has followed “traditional” mmorpg scheme until now, but I do believe the philosophy never was that. Rather than “the endgame is THE game”, it was “the endgame is the cherry on top of the cake”. While traditional raiding did fit in lore, they just did what everyone else was doing, there was no reason to do otherwise. But now that the story reaches a point that can not be virtually built in the traditional form, the philosophy prevails over the custom when they are trying to come up with creative alternative forms of endgame. And people that want nothing in their game but a traditional raiding system throw a tantrum.

    With regard to people saying the game is nerfed, I would wait and see. It is still to be seen whether classes become easier or tougher with the changes: In my opinion, in the past there were many skills that proficient players would discard in their rotation; the only thing I am sure the tree system is doing is acknowledging this fact by providing every player a graphical hint that not all skills need be used by all players. So I don’t believe most players would find themselves paying very differently if they build their character for the skills they already focused on.

    I sincerely believe people that were very proficient with a past status quo tend to overreact to change. It is normal, they are the ones that have more to lose. But maybe if one stops evaluating lotro in terms of how similar it is to that-game-with-completely-different-demographic-but-is-my-favourite-in-this-particular-feature-and-anygame-without-it-is-crap, and start evaluating it by how fun it can be to do something different once in a while, the perspective improves.

    Anyways, I don’t like too much casual either. I wouldn’t like lotro becoming a sort of middle-earth-Farmville. But there must be some middle ground.

    Reply

  3. susan Says:

    In order for a game to survive, they have to be clever at marketing and targeting an audience in the flooded MMO marketplace. If your gamestyle is not in the biggest profitable bubble they are aiming for then no, they really dont care about you. What are they going to do? change the game to suit the least profitable small percentage of players?

    Its best to cut your ties with the game and believe me, there are soooooo many good games out there you will wonder why it took you so long. The flip side to this is if your gamestyle fits in with the current marketing strategy, then you will think all is peachy keen and wont understand all the griping from the others.

    *shrugs

    Reply

    • Siqua of Landroval Says:

      “Its best to cut your ties with the game and believe me, there are soooooo many good games out there you will wonder why it took you so long.”

      Maybe for you, there are “soooooo many good games”, but for me nothing that is out there is even as good as the LOTRO-lite (Now with less fun!) we will have inflicted on us in a couple days. The closest is the much maligned SWTOR. SWTOR has its own problems, but is at least getting better with each update. One really hasn’t been able to say the same about LOTRO since “Echoes of the Dead” hit.

      Right now it’s the lack of a decent alternative that’s keeping me from leaving altogether.

      Reply

  4. Sigela Says:

    “Your” money, as in an individual? The actions of an individual won’t make or break any company that deserves to be in business. If the question is “our” money as accessed from a group, then yes, every MMO wants to draw the money of a large group to be as profitable as possible.

    I’m really surprised that a concept this simple generates this much angst. If you want a profitable company, you follow the money.

    In my opinion, the biggest problem facing LOTRO is not whether or not the player base defines itself as casual or diehard and which one gets to decide the game’s fate. That debate is pointless and misleading and only makes the dog chase its own tail.

    One problem is that the pool of people who represent new revenue to the game sees an old game and “old” doesn’t have the consumer appeal of “new.” That’s simple enough that I don’t see the need to expand it.

    Another problem to address is that LOTRO is, like the products of all companies, in a product life cycle track. Introduction of the product was great. Product growth also went great. Right now LOTRO is teetering on the edge between product maturity and product decline. Turbine can control Turbine to try to extend maturity but it cannot control the entire MMO market to guarantee long product maturity. We all know the other games and properties trying to grab their share of the pie. It’s a cutthroat game.

    What we might not be so quick to consider is an important problem relatively unique to LOTRO. Simply, there are an awful lot of other Lord of the Rings World (LOTRW) games out there. Turbine can’t control Christopher Tolkien.

    LOTRO’s popularity is largely dependent on the popularity of the LOTRW franchise as managed by the Tolkien estate. Right now, based on how many other LOTRW-licensed games exist, the Tolkien estate is driving a lot of the pressures on LOTRO because the Tolkien estate is always driving for the new money. Since 2007, when Turbine launched LOTRO, I count that there have been eight other LOTRW games released or developed by non-Turbine licensees.

    Turbine doeesn’t own LOTRW the same way WoW owns its universe. WoW doesn’t have outsiders selling their brand out from under them the way that the Tolkien estate sells the LOTRW allure away from the LOTRO game with every new license. Even when Vraeden’s Olds Alero was upsetting him about GM products, at least the Alero had the security of being the only Alero you could buy.

    We also have to pay attention to the cold hard fact that LOTRW, as a finite source of material, creates a definite stopping point for LOTRO as a game. I don’t think people can avoid responding even subconsciously to the reality that the end is in sight. What I think that Turbine is trying to do with the changes via Helm’s Deep is extend strong maturity as best it can in a truly peculiar market so that the decline phase is as brief as possible. To use a quote from Ashley Montagu, “The idea is to die young as late as possible.”

    From what I’ve seen where I’m sitting outside of beta Helm’s Deep, the upcoming changes infuse the game with an element of youth/newness and I think that it’s sorely needed, greatly appreciated, and ultimately a sound move both for the corporation and the players.

    Reply

  5. Numtini Says:

    I tend to discount the notion that game companies are sophisticated enough to do economic analyses of pandering to this or that demographic. Rather, I think you’re just seeing the usual conflict over changes. Every time a developer makes a significant change to the game, there is opposition even when those changes later turn out to be positive for the game or more often simply neutral. There is, of course, one huge exception, Star Wars Galaxies, where the NGE effectively destroyed the game. The problem for gaming companies is to figure out whether they’re really changing things in ways players won’t accept or if it’s just the usual crowd who never want anything to change.

    Reply

  6. Merowin Says:

    Thanks for a well-written article, Vræden. I agree with you completely. This is obvious a deliberate business decision by Turbine, to shift the game away from difficult and towards accessible. It started slowly already with Rohan, so it’s not a sudden decision by Turbine. They must believe this is where the money lies. They may be right.

    Unfortunately for me, I enjoy difficult. I actually like instances that kill me over and over again, but I also have to realise that I am a minority. In levelling my latest characters I tried to run as many instances as possible while levelling, since they almost all scale now, but it was incredibly hard to find people willing to run instances. 9 out of 10 tells I sent to other players within 2 levels of me would result in a resounding “No!” (The exclamation mark is a slight exaggeration; most responders left it out)

    I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and beautiful landscapes of Lotro, but that alone is not enough for me. I am now back in the PvP-focused game I came from 3 years ago, before I joined Lotro. Being killed for making a mistake is actually a pleasant change.

    Personally, I have paid my subscription and nothing more. I have bought all expansions with free Turbine points. Maybe Turbine will make more money without me…

    Reply

  7. Punggo Says:

    This is a good analysis of the economics of the situation. I have a lifetime subscription and have been a casual player since shortly after the game launch.

    The publisher-player relationship has to be one that’s mutually beneficial for it to work well. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of playing LOTRO, far in excess of the money I paid. In my view, Turbine doesn’t owe me anything beyond fulfilling the terms of the lifetime agreement and continuing to allow me on the servers.

    Turbine can’t be expected to build game changes around a hardcore base that provides only a sliver of revenue. If they see a need to conform more to the rest of the MMO world that has changed over the last 5-6 years in order to stay profitable, so be it.

    An alternative would be for LOTRO to have tiered memberships beyond what currently exists, with the highest-tier members (super-VIP?) getting more input into the revision process. Then the hardcore people could have more say.

    Reply

  8. Joshua Says:

    Your friend is lying, FYI.

    Reply

    • Avatar of Vræden
      Vræden Says:

      That’s very constructive. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

      Reply

      • Joshua Says:

        No, seriously. The Turbine devs said nothing like what was attributed to them. I’m not sure what to call that other than a lie. I could call it libel instead, if you prefer?

        Reply

        • Avatar of Vræden
          Vræden Says:

          I have heard the same thing from several people whom I trust. Without having read the entire conversation(s), what I reported above was their perception of the person(s) speaking on behalf of Turbine. The first comment left for this article seems to corroborate their take on the direction of the conversation.

          If other things were said, I am interested in hearing from others who were “in the room”, so to speak.

          Regardless of what was posted to the forums, the paraphrased statements (I am quoting my friends, not Turbine’s representatives) above were the takeaways I have heard from several beta testers. If that was not what Turbine intended to say, apparently they did a poor job of communicating their message.

          Reply

          • Joshua Says:

            It’s pretty likely that someone defending unpopular changes did, in fact, say something along the lines of “If you don’t like it, leave”. (Heck, I probably did at some point. It was a pretty long and pretty heated few months of beta)

            However, I can guarantee that it wasn’t anybody with a blue name. I think your friends might either have misremembered what happened or themselves got a second-hand account that misattributed statements to Turbine that no Turbine employee ever made.

            I’m mostly calling this out because a) It’s irresponsible to make claims that inflammatory without an objective means of verification and b) I think you could have had the same (or substantially similar) discussion without including those claims.

  9. Avatar of Sullo
    Sullo Says:

    A very well written and thoughtful analysis Vraeden! I have a Premium account, and in Turbine’s venn diagram of players, I probably fall somewhere in the target demographic region by virtue of having given them some money over the years. (This shocks me, BTW). I bought LOTRO:SOA in 2007 and tried it out, and returned when the game went F2P. I bought Isengard and Rohan and now HD, and used the TP from those to buy the rest of my quest packs over time. When I could afford it, I went VIP for a month, because I enjoy the game and want to support it.

    By most standards I’m a rather casual player. I play LOTRO roughly 5 hours a week, sometimes more on the weekends. I rolled a new toon when LOTRO went F2P, and he only just hit 85 this year. I’ve taken breaks from LOTRO to play other games, but I keep coming back. I like exploring the world, the lore, festivals, questing, and leveling up. I’ve found Floid and Dewitt everywhere. I’ve been to Weatherstock. I enjoy reading quest text and item flavour text. I’ve been having fun leveling alts and seeing what each class has to offer. I don’t spend money on frivolous things in the in-game store, but I have picked up a few things (more character slots, enhanced barter wallet, etc).

    I’ve never raided. Not because I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I just don’t have that much free time and it has never really appealed to me. I’ve been to the Moors twice I think. The biggest group content I’ve ever been in was a duo, usually with my wife, for skirmishes or parts of the epic story. I am looking forward to Helm’s Deep. This will be the first expansion where I will have a character at level cap going in. I plan on joining a few PUGs, and maybe 2014 will be the year I join a Kinship.

    I don’t agree with 100% of WB/Turbine’s decisions, but by and large I enjoy the game. I hope they keep improving on it, and listen to player feedback. My plan is to continue enjoying the game for as long as they keep it running. In the end, it’s a game. Lighten up and have some fun! :)

    Reply

  10. Duinathel Says:

    Vraeden,

    I like your stuff, and this is an interesting article, but I really think you are over-stating the case here. LOTRO has never been about raiding – and more importantly I believe that hard-core LOTRO players are a different demographic from raiders.

    I would argue that LOTRO’s “hardcore” are those who spend a tonne of time playing the game but mostly not at endgame. They hit level cap, run the odd 12-man skirmishes, get their non-raid gated gear, buy/barter their symbols to get their 2nd age weapons once they become affordable, and then roll an alt.

    The “hardcore” in LOTRO are the ones who have like 10 alts, and that community is astoundingly large. I think that Turbine has crunched the numbers and know that these players will have to get to know all their alts again after HD, something that will keep them busy long after the newness of HD has disappeared. They spend the TP.

    If LOTRO lost all its raiders I doubt that would come anywhere close to 1% of the players. If it lost its hardcore it would fail.

    My $0.02

    Reply

    • Siqua of Landroval Says:

      Good points, but at 1% I think you’re overstating the number of “hardcore raiders” in LOTRO by at least a couple orders of magnitude. I doubt that hardcore raiders make up 0.01% of the currently active accounts. My impression is that, with a few exceptions, the raiding kins all left some time between Mirkwood and Isengard. Sure, some kins still raid, but I don’t see the sort of dedicated progression raiding we had back in SOA, Moria, and Mirkwood. Turbine is probably well aware of this, I just think they’ve misinterpreted just what this could mean. They seem to think it means that LOTRO players can’t handle “complex” or “difficult” when it seems more likely that it means “we don’t have time to gather 11 other people and dedicate 6 hours every night to figuring out the new raid mechanics”. This would partially explain why Turbine seems to have decided that grindy is an adequate substitute for challenging.

      This parallels Turbine’s refusal to realize that just because most players want to be able to solo the Epic, that doesn’t mean we are keen on the idea that we have to break group every couple of quests to do a solo-only instance.

      I wish there were more things like “Death from Below” in LOTRO. Solo, but almost challenging. I guess that’s what skirmishes are supposed to be.

      Reply

      • Siqua of Landroval Says:

        I also meant to say that I liked you interpretation of a “hardcore LOTRO” player (ie an altaholic) since I seem to fit that description myself.

        Reply

      • Cadronas Says:

        It would be interesting to know the actual stat on the number of hardcore raiders. They certainly are the most vocal.

        Reply

        • Grayman Says:

          No one is permitted to quote anything verbatim from the Beta forums even with the NDA lifted. However, since there’s apparently some doubt about the comment regarding the percentage of “raiders” and who said it, let me put it this way: I was in Beta (just like Joshua, apparently) and I saw what was said and by whom. The actual wording was along the lines of a “single digit percentage” of LOTRO’s players are end-game raiders. That got morphed in the walls of text that followed it into “less than 10%” and sometimes just “10%” over time. The following sentence wasn’t as blunt as “if you don’t like it hit the road” but nevertheless indicated that Turbine could survive losing some players since it expected to experience a net gain eventually.

          And it was a “blue name” who made the original statement. Keeping it all in context, that “blue name” was taking incredible abuse at the time (there were actually threats of physical violence in some threads) and the response, while terse enough to cause me to do a double take, still showed a lot of self control considering the amount of fecal matter that was raining down at the time.

          Interestingly, a lot of the testers refused to believe the raider percentage was that low, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest it was too high until reading through the comments here. Using 5% in the article above is fair enough and could be right on target for all any of us know.

          Anyway, good article, Vraedan. Your point, which seems to have gotten lost in some of the comments, is very valid; keeping the game fresh and new and more focused on the casual player is a smart business decision. Oh, and I loved the car metaphor, too!

          Reply

  11. Jack Says:

    I do recall one dev saying “we won’t get rid of the trait trees, they aren’t going away”. But nothing along the lines of “If you don’t like the changes, go away.” Your friends could have mistaken the two. Having been in the Beta the Devs listened to players and made many changes to the trait trees based on player feedback. Most likely your friends misheard or misunderstood Vraeden. (Sorry if this is a repost, the other one hasn’t appeared after 3 hours)

    Reply

  12. Fernando Says:

    I liked your article, but i only want to say one thing, that usually most people forget, everytime someone starts playing a game, or chooses a game they want to play, they choose a type of game, in case of LOTRO i liked it because it was casual, in terms of i don’t need to play 24hs. in order to advance (i played that kind of game once and ruined my life), i like to raid, and everything lotro has but I notice most people want to change the game to something it isn’t, thay annoys me, like someone said here his friend likes LoL but pretending lotro to be that kind of game it’s stupid, because we know it’s not, if someone wants to play another type of game they should go and play that game, and not trying to change another game and say its sucks because is not what they want, all games are like that, someone plays the game type they like, not the ones they don’t like. This is just a reminder, i’m not defending Turbine at all since i agree about you said, just pointing out that, like i said most people tend to forget.

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  13. Rich Says:

    Nice article even if it is a little long winded. I disagree (or skim read whilst cooking and failed to understand) with the assumption that lifetimer = raider / grouper. A so called casual player (I think you can be hardcore and not group by the way) is as likely to be a lifetimer. With all the data mining you allude to and the lotro store it is very easy to segment and differentiate groups of customer types and design products that can persuade long term lifetime account holders to part with their dollars, pounds and euros. Also, you are potentially stopping them spend their subscription budget on a competitor game.
    An example would be to charge separately for an instance cluster – not this big battle nonsense but something that would appeal to that grouping segment. The non groupers could still pay for the expansion minus the instances.
    I am sure that raiders are as likely to spend in the store as anyone.
    Instead , I think there is a low cost strategy in lotro development as it enters the cash cow stage of its life cycle.
    I hope this isn’t the case, but it feels that we will reach mordor either soon or never .

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  14. Tyraleth Says:

    One of the problems here is terminology. What is a “raider” and what is “casual.” By conventional definitions I am a casual, and not a raider. I am even the RP officer in my kinship. However, by the standards being set by Turbine I am a hardcore raider because I do 3 and 6 mans. The audience they are targeting needs a new definition that does not fit into the traditional gaming business jargon.

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  15. Avatar of andyb
    andyb Says:

    When I was playing wow I did a fairly good job of stradling the fence between raider and casual.

    Raiding was me tanking on my gnome for my guild, a position I talked myself into, and for the raids I did get a wee bit annoyed if folk turned up late without prior warning of didnt bring the consumables expected and sponged off others instead.

    Outwith raids I rarely tanked anything unless it was an all guild group, there’s just something about pug players who think “tank come” is a good way to communicate with others. So the rest of my wow time was spent pottering about on alts levelling or gathering stuff.

    Lotro most of my time is spent soloing as people still dont want warspeech mini’s in their groups so I guess that has made me a casual player.

    Devs really need to avoid words like accesible especially for a game that is as broad as lotro. A broadness that can be used to generate income if they actually priced things to sell rather than making per character items considered purchases.

    Accessible is why the crafting system changed into having no interdependency and boosting played trade, commerce and healthy economy. Paying through the nose for a pattern doesnt count half as much as a group of crafters who can support each other by making parts for other items.

    In general it’s a word that makes people who have been gaming for the last 20 years die a little inside and those that have squeezed the same quantity of gaming into 5 years start ranting about casuals and nintendo ruining gaming.

    Instead they need to think about longevity, a word that was lacking when they first came up with LI’s which have now become just another throw away weapon as they no longer grow with you beyond set levels.

    Longevity doesnt need to mean stagnation and it also doesnt need to mean you lose the uniquness of a feature like the traits in favour of generic skill tree.

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