Lord of the Rings Online – Free Model Pays Off

February 1, 2011, By Christian Cawley

MMO games face an ongoing quest for survival in the endlessly changing world of gaming online – while some titles are seemingly destined for success (see World of Warcraft) others see an ebb and swell in their membership as other titles come online.

Lord of the Rings Online - free model pays off

Following the lead of Guild Wars, which offers free online gaming following purchase of the game software, one of the largest fantasy franchises on Middle Earth went free late in 2010 – and has recently announced a tripling of its revenue.

Since October 2010, The Lord of the Rings Online has been free-to-play across Europe, with the new pricing model allowing players to download the main game for free only paying to purchase expansions (after completing the basic missions), quest packs, items and other services from the LOTRO store. Meanwhile hardcore fans can pay a monthly subscription covering all of these items, maintaining the game’s regular subscription base.

As one of the better fantasy MMOs out there, Turbine’s success with this change has been keenly observed by various competitors. While giving new players the chance to get fully immersed in the game before charging them seems to be somewhat obvious this can only be a good thing for gamers and the industry alike if other games follow this model.

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