When Hubris Strikes!June 7, 2010 at 6:45 am | Posted in General | 2 Comments
Tags: disappointment, game design, lord of the rings online
Proof the universe has a sense of humour:
One evening last week, my lovely lady came home from work, and asked me if I played a particular MMO that one of her colleagues plays. Upon enquiring the name of said MMO, I got to put on my best smug voice and declare;
“Oh, no, I don’t play the *free* ones”.
Hmm. How things change, and how quickly they change.
On Saturday I started catching up on my blog reading, and there is Syp at Bio Break telling me that Lord of the RIngs Online is about to become free to play.
It seems I *do* play the free ones after all.
The news has, as expected, raised quite a lot of comment.
Well, I specialise in unfounded opinionated rambles, so it seems a little unfair to let such a thing pass by without comment, although I did decide to do it at the far end of the weekend so that I could at least ruminate on the decision without having to resort to some sort of reactionary nerd-rage.
Right now, I’m feeling like someone has kicked a really, really good mate of mine in the soft and tenders whilst filming it on their mobile so they can upload it on YouTube. Yet at the same time, all I can feel is; “Oh”. Not an excited; “Oh!”, or even an angry; “Oh!” Just a complete lack of emotion; “Oh”.
I can understand why Lord of the Rings is going Freemium; the people in charge think they can make more money out of a Freemium game than they can as a subscription game. I could try and rationalise why, but it would be as if someone did a complete load of unfounded speculation, and I don’t like to speculate as much as I opine.
But I will speculate enough to say that they think that Freemium is going to make them more money. And that someone in a high enough position has decided that’s good enough reason to make the change.
The net result for most players is that they’ll not have to pay out for a subscription every month, and that many players will have the opportunity to play a fantastic, wonderful game that I really enjoy.
Of course, I feel bad for those paying customers who were offered a cut price but still not inconsequential amount of money for a Lifetime Subscription about a month ago. It feels shark-like, at the very least.
But I got my lifetime subscription long enough ago that it’s more than paid for itself. And rather than be a regular player; I shall be a VIP player, no less. So there’s no need for me to be churlish and feel that as a lifetime subscriber I’m losing out because everyone else will be playing for free too. I’m being rewarded for my loyalty.
And there is still a subscription option. It’s there for those who want it, and for those who don’t want to pay, there’s that whole free option. More choice, and choice is good.
But I’m old, and getting old means hating change. Lord of the Rings Online isn’t broken, so why does it need fixing?
And I can’t help worrying. With a subscription model, games are there to make us want to pay our subscription every month, to get us to *want* to play. Freemium allows us to pay what we want, for what we want.
It’s the same; both models want us to part with money as part of playing. But subscription games want our money once per month, and as a result we get to partake in all parts of the game. Whilst Freemium wants us to pay to see more and do more. And it isn’t happy with just one payment; it wants as much cash as it can get from us.
Is it a subtle distinction? I don’t think so.
And most importantly, under the subscription model we’re all equal. We all get the same opportunities, we all get the same options, we all have the chance to see and do the same things.
Do I actually *want* to be a VIP player? As if I don’t have to wait in any queues, and get my own roped off area in the club, with bouncers to protect me from the hoi-poloi?
I’d rather not.
Now is when I say that I’d not played for any appreciable length of time in the last month. I was recharging my Middle Earth batteries, ready for an orgy of alt levelling. Fallen Earth and World of Warcraft were taking up the lion’s share of my gaming, and I was happy to let Lord of the Rings Online take a back seat until I really felt like kicking some orc.
That was going to be this weekend, but the announcement sort of took the wind out of my sails. Right now I’m not sure what I’m going to do about a game I really, really enjoy.
I think this one will take a vat-load of tea to work through.