Making Money

September 30, 2009

Ok, so the Turbine offers surrounding Siege of Mirkwood have already raised a few eyebrows. They’re a little confusing until you sit down and read them properly and realise lifetimers are being treated differently from those without a lifetime sub.

Me, I think it’s great. Let’s face it, they need to make regular money. That’s their development lifeblood. And yet they had the lifetime offer and obviously through all the returns to the offer, they’ve gathered quite a number of lifetime subscriptions. In terms of big wads of cash the lifetimers represent one-off payments, but no regular money. Which has long been seen by us, the audience, as a great offer if you love the game and get your money’s worth, but for the company must have more dubious status compared with people paying a monthly fee.

I was really happy to see that Siege of Mirkwood comes free with a multi-month subscription. Presumably those wanting to level to 65 and see the new content who aren’t lifetimers will buy a 3 or 6 month sub anyway at some point, but if not, this might get them to do that vs. buying monthly. In addition, they save some money when purchasing multi-month, and Turbine get a cash injection just before Xmas. And the lifetime offer returns to its lower price, so that may mean even more money to put towards the next expansion, next game, Xmas presents for employees (don’t get excited Turbine employees, I doubt this is where the money is headed).

Then, the next offer deals with lifetimers. As they can’t really buy a multi-month sub, they’re offered a fluff package for $20 that will give them Siege of Mirkwood for free. In addition they GET the fluff. 2 extra character slots, shared account storage and a few in-game items. As Spinks just said to me, if WoW offered 2 char slots for $20, people would think it was reasonable. In this instance, they’re offering fluff AND Siege of Mirkwood for $20 to anyone with a lifetime sub. That both matches the non-lifetime offer (in terms of expenditure) AND gives lifetimers a free copy of the expansion. So far, Turbine walking the line fairly well. Everyone CAN buy the pack, so they’re not excluding the non-lifetimers, but only lifetimers get SoM free with it (the obvious indication being that if you’re NOT lifetime, you need to get your multi-month sub in instead).

Now, if you don’t take them up on a pre-order offer, you may end up paying $40 for the ‘Adventurers Pack’ and Siege of Mirkwood. The incentive for pre-ordering is pretty clear here. Which means Turbine should get their money well before December. Good plan. And while it looks confusing to start with, it’s really quite sensible of them to come up with these packages.

And finally a few home truths. Yes, we all like to save money. Yes, we may not all want the extra character slots, etc. But Turbine isn’t a charity and presumably anyone playing LotRO kind of likes it and would like it to succeed. So we need to get it into our heads that the current system of always free updates wasn’t working as well as Turbine may have liked. They’ve put together some packages to encourage people to spend money, but compared to other games and charges, this is all pretty reasonable stuff (I may change my mind when I see Codemasters charges, of course, so reserve that right). I’ve been a lifetimer since beta ended. I have no issue with giving them some extra cash each year if it’s for something I want to play. Even if it isn’t, frankly – and I’m pretty cash-poor. Yes, we all like stuff to grumble about, but I think in this case, they’ve thought about this one a lot and come up with a workable scheme.

Worst case scenario is the multi-month sub that wants the Adventurers Pack, but even then they end up paying $20 on top of their sub. It’s the same as the lifetimers, but we paid the larger amount at some point. But initially it’ll feel like the bigger hit. However, I see them repeating this pattern if it doesn’t crash and burn horribly. And yes, I will definitely miss having a boxed game in my hands, but if it means they get to keep more of the actual money for development.. I’m mostly good with it. But only if the money goes towards customisable horses in Rohan ;p

[Edit: for reference, here’s the US forum on pricing, including lots of clarifications – such as if you already have a multi-month sub you can ONLY buy the Adventurers’ Pack, or nothing!]



  1. Great post and I agree 100%!

  2. Let’s wait for CM announcement shall we?
    If previous situations are any example (i.e. selling stuff that was offered for free by Turbine) we might be in for surprise… or not…

    • I know, I know. I promised myself I’d wait for the Codemasters announcement before commenting on it, but then got reading twitter and realised I had something to say about Turbine’s offering.

      I expect Codemasters will be a little different, but am hoping it won’t be grossly so.

  3. The worst case is for people who are not playing the game now. If you come back to the game sometime after Oct 31, you have to pay the regular subscription AND $20 for the expansion and still more if you want the adventure pack.

    I guess they’ve done us a bit of a favor by not bundling the AP in with the mini-expansion and making everyone pay $30-40 for it, but bear in mind that the combined package is looking pretty thin compared to what most devs (including Turbine’s own Moria expansion) include for that price.

    • You’re right of course, I guess Turbine is hoping that all those people will sub for at least 3-months on 30th Oct (or sooner), giving them SoM for free and a couple of months of playtime with it… assuming their chars are level 60 and good to go.

      Alternatively, say Spinks (whose burglar is around 54 I think) could sub in oct and get her burglar up to 60 before SoM is released and play straight through.

      It does revolve around everyone knowing how best to play the offers for their situation IF they want to do that.

      It’s definitely not up to the Mines of Moria package, I think that’s already a given. But, if it comes to being a bit ripped off versus the game not going forward at all, I still know which I’d pick. And even with the scenario above, you get 3 months gameplay for your money and don’t need to pay at all for the ‘expansion’.

      • Yep basically it’s a free update for current paying subscribers! Lifers will have to pay extra as well as new or returning players that is if they come to or return after the offer expires, but that’s about it…

        You can’t blame Turbine for treating their current customers more than fairly. 😉 At least not when you compare Turbine to Codemasters in Europe…

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