Release date and pre-order: The story behind the disappointment

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For three weeks now I have been reporting on the news from Mordor Beta builds, mentioned some bugs and posted a few videos and screenshots. This fourth week I have started with an announcement of the pre-order and the possible (not likely) date that the expansion will be released – July 31st. And that article was very mild if you have followed any of my other ones. The reason for that? Shock, maybe. Hoplessness that this game will do anything right. I am in dire need of a real life +6 hope token.

So, several days ago this was announced and the forums lit up like a Christmas tree. And who could blame the people for reacting? SSG certainly can’t. What was the issue?

For some the issue was pricing. And yes, even in the first article, I wrote that the price of the various packages for the expansion was a little bit steep. Being very generous with the wording there. But when we look a little bit deeper, what can we read there? It is not that we were saying (yes, I was among those people on the forum) that we do not have the money to pay for this. Although, there were such comments also, I don’t feel like those were the majority. We mainly focused on several key things.

We did not see the value of those packages. What SSG fails to recognize is that the value is not the a la carte price of all the items put together, the value is determined by the players and if they consider something valuable or not.

 

The editions

 

The standard edition package is coming only with what the expansion will include – quests, deed, allegiance, group content – and a new item called Aria of the Valar that will bring one of your characters to level 105. Basically, since the instances are coming out much later, you are getting a glorified quest pack. The race of High Elf was announced quite some time ago and it was spoken about in the forums and Cordovans streams and it was always announced to come with Mordor. Now, we do not get this race with Mordor if we decide for the standard edition. Why? Well, that is because SSG thinks that High Elf is not a key part in experiencing Mordor. They may or may not be right, but when something was mentioned over and over again in the same sentence as Mordor then it would be only natural to have it in the standard edition. So, the issue doesn’t become if they are right or not, the issue is who in their right state of mind says for months that something is coming with Mordor and then changes their mind and unbundles this. No other MMO has ever done that. And I don’t know who wants to pay 40 USD more for a privilege of cosmetic changes to the elf.

So, if we are not getting the High Elf in the standard edition, why do we get the Aria of the Valar at all there? Well, that is so we do not need to level up and still are able to experience Mordor. Is it safer to assume that by now people are ready and waiting for Mordor or that there is some low-level who wants to go there immediately? I am not sure about everyone else, I understand that there are players with less play time on their hands or just aren’t as into it as others, but I have six characters on level 105 and ready for a t2c raid. I have one more who is level 41 and I do not intend to level him up, as it is a duplicate class, made for scouting servers on transfer and became my crafter. So, Aria of the Valar for me and people like me or just the people who like to level up while questing and experiencing the story has zero value.

Aria of the Valar, or any Valar package for that matter, has that much less value because it doesn’t really prepare you for anything. You gain levels, the trait points that go with those levels, usually 4 virtue levels, some gold, legendary items and some weak purple gear to get you by. If we were to compare this level-up service to other games you would have been much better prepared to go into the level cap content than you are in LOTRO. Valar packages do not give you trait points you usually get from certain quest lines that you are now way over the level for, it does not give you safe passage through Angmar if I recall correctly and it doesn’t even unlock the stables in Middle Earth for you. So, what other games seem to consider mandatory SSG considers priviledge.

I mentioned my six raiding characters. I’m not a real big fan of elves, but I do have an elf Rune-Keeper. I have a captain, also, so High-Elf doesn’t bring anything ground breaking for me that I would want to purchase it to level it up from the start. However, because of very bad racial traits of the “regular” elf, I would gladly pay for an “upgrade” to my “regular” elf, which, of course, isn’t offered and it is questionable if it will ever be. So, value of the High Elf to me and similar players – also 0.

The highest package that SSG is offering also has a one month VIP code included. And admittedly, players who have a life-time VIP are not in the majority, they do not have any need for a VIP code. So, this is another item with zero value to those players.

And I must admit I am surprised that after all the hype about Chance Thomas, the soundtrack is not included in any of the packages.

Interestingly, SSG thinks that the High Elf, which is planed to be priced 1000 LP at U22 launch (which is called U22 for now, may be a dot update), and several other things like cosmetic armor, cloak, kite, character slot, title and alliance mount are worth the jump from 40 to 80 USD. Well, first of all, who flies a kite in Mordor?! And second of all, this is probably the worst value for money you could decide on. This now begs the question is SSG really that divorced from reality and has no clue about business or PR or is this only a stunt to get people to buy a massively overpriced package and spend 130 USD. Sadly, I am convinced that SSG has allowed itself to ask for so much based partly because of what is in the package, but also based on the sentimental value of getting near the end of the story. We are not being sold a cheaper expansion because we are being sold our adventure, maybe our childhood, our dreams… Certainly not quests.

Not to speak of, and of course I will, that this is not a pre-purchase in any other way than that it is available before the launch of the game. But it will also stay available after the launch. So the people who are pre-purchasing aren’t actually getting anything from the packages as a reward or a perk for supporting the game, those are being sold and used to badly justify the price they are asking. Also, more on price… I would guess that SSG would like more real money from a pre-purchase than some real and some fake money from LOTRO points. So how come that you are punished for buying the expansion now? The expansion will be priced at 2495 LOTRO points and, as said before, the High Elf will be 1000 LP. That is much less than 40 USD. So, basically, people who are pre-purchasing and paying with money and supporting the game are punished and people waiting for the U22 are rewarded?

 

The business practice and the history of the game

 

And we do not have here only a case of overpricing the expansion packages, we also have a case of… Well, first of all no advertising, even if it has been told that there will be some. But also false advertising because players have been told for weeks that the price of the expansion would be similar to the older ones, but none of the old ones went above 100 USD, to my knowledge.

LOTRO has made much more money when it went F2P, so it didn’t need to learn on mistakes or successes anyone else did, they had their own. So, instead lowering the price and attracting more people to buy it, their excuse for the VIP in the package is that you can gift it away. Whatever money they make now I am positive that they would have made twice as much if we were able to make our own packages. I’d gladly raise the price with the mounts, I have gotten them with the other pre-purchases too, why not now, and with the XP item, etc. But what I do not want is to be cheated out of money with things that have 0 value for me.

All of this has only been made worse by the release date that SSG offered us. Some of us have been on all the iterations of Mordor Beta builds and we have seen the work that needs to be done. It would be generous to say that this release is rushed. We are falling through bridges, NPCs are in the ground not being able to finish quests, High Elf still needs work, avatar upgrades are not finished, skins of mobs are not all there, loot tables are not finished, various items are not showing their correct level, whole camps pulled by attacking one mob, etc. And we now need to work with another yet unfinished iteration of an update/expansion, allowing for possible exploiting or otherwise caused frustration by the rushing of the release date. I am not aware that LOTRO has any competition now.

Turbine or SSG, call them what you like, certainly has a history of not testing things through or just not caring about it. It has been said on various occasions that Bullroarer, which is considered a beta test server, is in fact alpha and SSG in its various forms has treated live servers like they were beta. Just flash back to when people could not raid because they were preparing for Mordor and buffed Throne of the Dread Terror raid.

To not go too far back, the update that brought us the Wastes comes to mind. As it came live we have experienced massive amounts of lag for days. Addressing the lag was actually addressing the motivation to players to cause lag by removing the reputation drop items with the excuse that they weren’t even supposed to drop, after the history of them dropping through the whole game. Nobody from SSG has given any official statements anywhere, apologized for the inconvenience or even tought that they could add a week at least on people’s VIP subscription. Maybe I am reaching here, but the lack of communication there, not the lag, is what made me drop my VIP subscription and buy the raid with the accumulated LP. Looking a little more back, we had the fiasco with the Bell-O-Dale flowers that some people farmed enough of sapphire extracts in a few hours and some were hurting for days.

Many people on the forum were talking about developers not being able to do something because of Warner Brothers or Turbine or whatever… But SSG is Turbine. We have the same developers in the same building and probably even offices, they are only a different entity now. Nothing will be better just because they are called SSG now because nothing and nobody has changed. Except for the name change. And if you want something to change, you must ask for it.

 

Why do we do this?

 

Now, Massively said this nicely and I agree… We are not hard on the studio or on the game because we have some kind of a grudge or a vendetta, but because we want this game to be great. It is because we love this game that we are writing what we feel needs to be addressed. I can understand that it is not a nice feeling to see the uproar of the people on the forums and come to work to a 20 page thread and several of those, full of angry people. But instead of letting this happen every time maybe SSG could stop one day and ask themselves “How can we deal with this?”.

But I can say that the fans of LOTRO paying just to support the game so it doesn’t shut down and paying no matter what are not really helpful here. I don’t want to offend the fans, I am one too, but it’s a very sad day when people who write passionately about this become the subject of hateful attacks and name calling when they wanted to point some things out and help build a great game. I would guess that this is also the reason we are loging in to Bullroarer and writing the bugs and in threads in the Bullroarer forum.

Somehow there is this train of tought that if you are a fan, then you will praise, defend and never criticize the game and the studio and will be OK spending money no matter what. But after some of the mistakes that have happened the feelings are a little dulled and now I think more like a consumer. What do I get for my money? And I can tell you one thing. A customer will spend more money on a product if he is satisfied with the customer service and the value a company places on a customer. I’m not overly impressed with SSG on this note.

 

What to do about it?

 

There is hardly any way out of this now. The packages have been bought, so there is no way SSG will want to lower the price and then play with refunds, there won’t be any more packages for the similar reason, so the only way to give more value is to add LOTRO points and maybe a few mithril to all packages – maybe 500, 1000 and 2000 LP and 25, 50, 100 mithril. No reason for SSG to be stingy with pixels. We could ask for the High Elf in the standard edition, but then anyone who did buy the collector edition may feel cheated out of 40 USD.

I am sad to say and come to terms with a discovery that this game has survived for this long only because of its name. Only because of LOTR and Tolkien do we tolerate the treatment we have been given for so long. Had this been Land of the Righteous nobody would be here anymore when we consider the lag, the support, filing a ticket and waiting for hours, then to log on a different character only to then receive the notice that it is closed because you were not online, all the bugs that go live and much more.

There is no curse in elvish, entish or the tongues of men for this treachery.

47 comments

  1. Treachery and treason: there’s always an excuse for it.
    And when I find the reason: I still can’t get used to it …
    And what have you got, at the end of the day?
    What have you got — to take away?
    A bottle of whiskey and a new set of lies;
    Blinds on the window and a pain behind the eyes …

  2. John Soper /

    The only thing I see wrong in the video is that at least 20 mobs were rounded up to shwing into action. Cordovan did say that the cakewalk is over. Champs can’t go in and pull the whole place anymore. Although I do agree that the new solo resource instances are extremely difficult and may not be something that we can complete. I did take a level 115 High Elf RK with 60k morale and 137k tac mastery into Darshang, or something like that. I managed to kill my way to the final boss with only 2 deaths.. Once I got to the 500k boss with an add and spawns of ghosts, it was over in a heartbeat. I was so close the rewards chest it was glowing in my face.. Anyways, I did put in a proper bug report for game play difficultly. Regardless, I’m not complaining and threatening to quit. I’ve been playing since March 31st 2007. I will damned if I’m going to miss out on Mordor and the destruction of the ring. I also tried the spider instance and got to the final boss with the same deadly results.

    • Arred /

      Sadly, you are mistaken. If you watch it again you’ll see that the whole camp starts running after attacking one mob. Nothing was rounded up.

    • Thimbur /

      There are camps in the starter area that have linked (i.e. attack one they all respond) mobs. You’d need an army to take them on from looking at the video.

  3. John /

    It’s also the first time since the game went F2P that expansions have not been available for purchase on the release day with in game points, but no prior announcement before the expac went on sale. “Winter” and 5 months of a delay have been mentioned.

  4. Fredl Fesl /

    > Only because of LOTR and Tolkien …

    Brilliant article, I think you’re absolutely spot on with this.

    This whole situation is just baffling. Everbody was excited for Mordor – SSG could have won easily by making a decent offer. Now they have devided the player community once again, and I’m afraid that’s for the worse of everybody, first and foremost for SSG. (Unless they plan to close shop in the foreseable future, so a quick buck is all they are aiming at …)

  5. It’s all a value judgment based on each individual customer. To me, I see a $40 expansion as normal plus a free Valar item that would be very costly purchases separately (LP 2000+). Seems a good deal to me.

    I have not spoken with anyone who likes the $80 bundle. No for me as well. Besides, it’s an Elf. If it was a noble Dwarf, that would be a different matter.

    As far as the $130 bundle. If you are a person who sees value is extra cosmetics, mounts, and other such stuff; you might find value here. They do look verrrrry cool. Is ramen noodle for a month really that bad?

    I know kinmates who purchased the $130, the $40 (no $80 yet) or are just going to wait to get it with LP. I even know of a “lifer” that purchased the $130 bundle stating that they might be well since they never spend money in the game otherwise (nice of them). Despite the different views on what is best for them, we all seem pretty positive about LOTRO.

    Maybe it comes down to if you are happy with the game itself as it is now. I’m am, thus I’m also happy with the $40 and $140 bundle (something went wrong with that $80 price point).

    This is LOTRO, enough with the outrage. Let’s keep that positivity going instead (that does not mean you have to like all the bundle prices). I appreciate the LOTRO players podcast team for that.

    • Angela /

      Oh look another fanboi trying to shut people up. People are outraged & have every right to speak up. What SSG done is BS & I am glad to see people not letting this go. You don’t like all the negativity then don’t read it.

      • Teriadwyn /

        People have every right to be outraged, however it’s just as fair to say that people are perfectly within their rights to support SSG’s decision. Please keep attacks of other peoples’ opinions on the official forums. Thanks.

      • Arred /

        Thank you, Angela, for your support. I very much appreciate it. He is, however, right that some people may find 300 USD value in the cosmetics if they like them that much. But the point is the same one as I have made. What SSG is selling does not have the value of the combined prices of separate items, but what we percieve the value to be. And reactions on forum and other websites do suggest that people do not find that value and even the hardcore fans of LOTRO while defending SSG do admit that the packages should have been richer. And with SSG acting the way they do there really shouldn’t have been any calls for positivity and sweeping this under the rug, we have let things go too many times. But there is also no need to insult people. Once again, thank you very much.

      • No worries, Angela, I’ve been called a lot worse. 🙂

        I see Arred’s work as a journalist opinion article. They are mean to spark a place for conversation regarding the topic of debate. As such, it seemed a good place to put my thoughts on the mater.

        What I would find inappropriate, is someone “attacking” Arred directly for posting the article. In fact, Arred’s writing here is the best opinion piece I’ve seen on the topic to date. Arred did a very good job, even if I don’t agree with all the points.

        In regards to the topic at hand, the biggest “miss” I feel is having the High Elf locked behind an $80 (or more) bundle at x-pack launch. If I ran the world (of LOTRO), I would have put it at the $40 level and leave off the Valar item. After that, the $80 bundle would instead be $60 so it’s in-line with community expectations.

      • Arred /

        Thank you, GumpsGang. For posting your opinion here and for your words about the article, appreciate it.

  6. That’s QuartermasterU’s logic, I presume. I once suggested that a certain price was too high and that it should be lowered. Can you guess his response? “If everything was free, there would be no game”. Wow, what a genious. But wait, who said everything should be free? That’s the kind of mentality we’re dealing with. The guy behind the prices of the LOTRO Store is not interested in having any reasonable discussion. On the contrary, he wants to pretend he didn’t understand your question. Trust me, I have experience with this guy. Tried to use the logic many times with him and it never works. LOTRO would be a better game without him. I am sorry if that sounds harsh and cold, but that’s my opinion. While he is the one with the task of setting the prices and what goes on packages, he will try to milk as much money as he can. It doesn’t matter for him if there will be less players buying the expansion. When I told him a certain item on the LOTRO Store hadn’t been in sale for 6 months, he said he doesn’t take suggestions on what goes on sales. He clearly doesn’t give a damn about your opinion, he just wants profit and the only thing that will change his mind is money.

    • Angela /

      This is really interesting & explains allot with the store. Sorry to say but he sounds like a real ass. It’s interesting we don’t have those special sales anymore like we use too. The ones for the Anniversary & over the 4th of July. Also we use to have the weekend special deals & it’s been quite a long time since we had one of those. I now wonder if they will do there usual Black Friday & Christmas sales or if those will be scrapped too. It’s been awhile since we have had LP on sale as well. Boy there really scrapping stuff.

  7. Arabany /

    Another article from the same people about the same thing. There is not a single objective line in any of the articles. Just whining, wrong assumptions, absence of game knowledge, lack of game development experience and no desire to understand that the World has changed and keep doing it.

    Don’t like it?- Don’t buy it, wait half a year and get it cheap. With instances, raids, patches, fixes. The best deal!

    Only because of LOTR and Tolkien, right? I guess you won’t mind dancing in taverns for half a year then, or storlling around, or leveling another character. it’s all about Tolkien after all, who needs high end gameplay.

    • Arred /

      I am guessing that is why these keep repeating and getting support. Because it is lacking objectivity and game knowledge.

  8. Marmi /

    For me base edition is just right, cost the same as HD 4 years and include instances which wasn’t always obvious. I don’t need Aria but I treat it as free item, I would only like if we could choose between it and High Elf race.
    As for higher editions I agree, they are too expensive (59 and 99$ would be more appropriate imo), significantly higher price than in the past and some Lotro points should be added to them. Also release date is too soon but it’s nothing new.
    But for you everything is bad or very bad which is not the case. I didn’t expect article with so much hate on this page. I hope you’ll still be able to enjoy Lotro anyway.

    • Arred /

      I enjoy LOTRO very much, I just can not enjoy the people runing it and some of their decisions. It is because I enjoy it that I react in this way and I cannot allow myself to push this under the rug just because it’s Mordor.
      With the support this article has gotten on the forums and various pages I would say that I do not hate on the game on purpose, sadly that is only because of the recent series of bad decisions.

  9. Thanks for a thoughtful round up of this issue. I can’t go on the forums — they’ve started to sound more like my Facebook feed did just before the election.

    By Eru…

    • ElevensesX3 /

      And here I thought I was the only one who noticed the similarity in my posts, thanks!!!

    • Arred /

      Well, SSG is certainly bouilding a wall around themselves.

      I am glad you liked the article.

  10. John /

    I’ve been fairly active in the SSG forums I’ve thought to give reasoned arguments in those posts given my several years playing experience. I’ve speculated and called them out on any number of things. We have had no response from any SSG employee. The only active one is Cordovan the CM, he’s closed one thread on abuse inaccurate and inappropriate grounds. But as usual he’s only concerned with handing out infractions in an attempt to police the posts and weaken our resolve. I know of two infractions being handed out. As discussing infractions on those forums is against the rules and will incur further infractions I don’t know how many have been handed out I felt I should come here to warn the other posters to watch their backs. However many ignorant and abusive posts we get attacking us for taking a stand those posts remain yet Cordovan will sanction his perceived adversary. It’s the same old default behaviour so we are unlikely to change anything. These guys just don’t get it. It sicken me that they waste the IP they have.

    • Arred /

      I am aware that one thread was closed that had some not so major insults in its title. I had no idea about infractions being handed out.
      It does look bad that Cordovan and the rest are aware of the threads, hard not to be, but chose to be silent on the matter, but does moderate the forum.
      This silence that also happened in the Wastes debacle is the reason I unsubbed my VIP, not the massive lag we had then. This is the time when I dubbed them Standing Still Games. When you are around for so long with something you love it is very hard to see how unappreciated you are and how little value SSG gives to their customers.

  11. Louni /

    All I will say on this topic is, this is nothing new. Every single expansion of LOTRO has produced the same reaction, from pricing, to it being released before it’s ready. It is no surprise to me. And the Devs will always not comment, what can they say? 6 months from now, people will still be playing the game, and probably be saying how much they love the new content.

  12. Looking at the State of Bullroarer and the client there, as well as the sheer volume of fixes required just on basic elements in new mordor area’s this absolutely smells like a final cash grab. I hate to say it but seriously.!! This is a final cash-in, full price expansion options the top tier being equivalent in pricing to the original “lifetime Subscription” model. This has shut-down in 12 months written all over it guys, I love Lotro played since open-beta, but this just doesn’t sit right . . .

    • Angela /

      You know this is why I am leery of spending anymore money on this game. I am seeing more people talk about this & bring it up & you cannot help but wonder. It just doesn’t make sense why there rushing this like they have. Really no hype for this expansion, not much advertising, we have gotten no trailers, I mean come on’ this is MORDOR! Now a short beta which I just shake my head at because this is no way ready to be released end of the month. I could be wrong but something is up.

      • Barnabras /

        Lotro’s demise has been predicted for the last 5 years. SSG doesn’t have a company without Lotro. I think if Lotro dies then SSG does as well. Pricing for the two higher options is terrible. Every expansion has been rushed and plagued with problems in the begining. Which expansion shut the servers down for three days? Was it RoR? I remember additional TP being handed out at every expansion because of all the problems. Nothing to fear about the game ending, its business as usual.

  13. Lotro has always been insanely good value for money, and it still is. The whole of Gondor was released for no extra costs to VIPs and lifers, and f2p players can grind the coins to buy the quest packs within the game, now easier than ever as the deeding time has been cut. Last expansion lies years back, asking for a bit of extra money. The game is filled with beautiful ‘fluff’ no one has to spend extra on.

    There is this saying ‘give them a hand and they take an arm’, and this in my view is what players are doing who are now complaining about the Mordor expansion. The base bundle is completely reasonably priced, the other 2 bundles are support bundles. I never understood that Lotro allowed expansions to be purchased via store points on release, this was a kindness which is now clearly haunting them. However, they should have communicated this change better to avoid players purchasing store points in hopes to buy the new expansion via this method, but that is about the only thing I can fault them for, and stuff sometimes happens.

    I am not disappointed at all, I am totally fine, and I just had to make up my mind whether one of the bigger bundles is worth it for me, considering I have so many gorgeous festival steeds already, warsteed cosmetics from festivals, beautiful cosmetics, but for the support aspect I am happy to go the extra mile. This game has given me more than my money worth over the years, and people weren’t complaining about having their deeding time cut, so they should not complain to pay $40 for an expansion which is meant to provide an important cash injection at this point in time. The HE will be made available in the store for those easy to grind in game store points, not like it is an exclusive tied to the top bundles. Wait a bit, that’s all.

    • Arred /

      I am sorry, but nobody complained about the price of the lowest package ever. If there was any ill content about that package in any article it is only that they have advertised High Elf coming with Mordor for so long to then decide to ask for it 40 USD more.
      And yes, previous pre-purchases I bough were decent. I had no issues with them, never raised one question about it. But those actually were pre-purchases, we had bonuses because we bought the expansion before, we weren’t being sold and XP item, we recieved LOTRO Points in the package, etc. Now the package stays the same even after the so called pre-purchase, you are buying the items in the package, those aren’t considered a reward, no LP in the package or ability to purchase with LP for now… The value in the package is the problem, the vagueness of the information during the months coming to here is the problem, the 180°turn in practice is the problem, the silence of SSG is the problem…
      Support package? If they want donations and charity then they can organise something else, hell, even I will donate, but do not charge and hope there is enough people whose only care is that it’s Mordor, so it must be worth it. Just because it is LOTRO does not mean that SSG now deserves to be immune to criticism.

      • So there are changes to the policy. Life contains changes, and some of those changes I actually hail, not being able to purchase with LP one of them. The game can no longer afford to offer this, in my view, all the more as store points flow in so fast now, deeding time having been cut. The bundles will not be to everyone’s liking – no bundle I ever purchased was to mine, still I bought them, not just for what I got from bundles, but for what the game as a whole kept offering me.

        We have no way of telling how well the sales are progressing, SSG’s silence might be due to not seeing any negative impact, or maybe they are still assessing the sale’s situation, maybe they are working on a compromise.

        Criticism is everyone’s right, but so is it the right of those of us who feel no upset or disappointment to present our view and counter arguments. Everyone feels they have it all figured, that’s human nature, often the truth can be found in the middle.

      • Arred /

        I do not usually do this, but I fixed the typo for you.

        Yes, changes are often good. We have seen many good ones during the time we are playing, I’m sure. But those shouldn’t really be served as such surprises to the players. I do not mind that we can’t purchase it for LP from the start, it is only one of the “secrets” we had to learn the day of the announcement.

        And I do not agree with your definition of negative impact. I have seen and heard posts, articles, podcasts and Youtube videos where people were not satisfied, but still bought the expansion. But not the one they were hoping they would be buying, because they seen no value in the upper two packages. There is negative impact as soon as there are threads on top of threads where people are reacting to this. Doesn’t matter if it’s this article, that is written using some “stronger” words or another one with more neutral and calm language, the people reporting on this are usually in unison. Die hard fans of LOTR and Tolkien will buy it, no matter what.

        Ignoring the problem is also used as a strategy when a photographer threathens to sue a company infringing his copyright. The strategy of their lawyers is to ignore it, wait it out and let them cool off. While fully aware that they had no right to use the photo. And this is not the first time that SSG has said nothing when comunity was reacting to what it considered a major issue. And those are the players. So their major issue should be SSGs major issue. I say this over and over again, observing their behaviour it just looks like SSG has nobody who has ever dealt with any kind of business.

      • It does not offer me a reply option for the comment further down, hope this will be posted in order regardless.

        I never said it will not have a negative impact, I said we do not know if the silence is due to it not having a negative impact, or shall we say enough negative impact to alert the company, or maybe they are working on a compromise. I guess we have to wait and see.

        Already stated I agree that the change to the LP policy should have been communicated in advance, but quite frankly we are talking $40. No one was ever able to purchase anything beyond the base via store points, and while I am sure some players made store point purchases in anticipation, I honestly believe we are talking a very small minority. For this minority however I do feel, yet the points are not lost, they can use these points still, it just incorporates a wait now (certainly not ideal, but this is the only real issue I am seeing with the launch).

        What irks me personally is that I read players post how Lotro has been more than their money worth, yet because they don’t get more than their money worth this time (which is debatable, the top bundle contains definitely the value, just not items we are all that interested in anymore), they shout foul play. I have raised 3 children, and maybe Lotro should have taken parenting over business lessons, because spoiling your kids leads to them not developing appreciation. The game has spoiled us, Gondor not an expansion we had to pay extra, lots of gorgeous fluff we don’t need to visit the store for, deeding time cut, a housing update many of us have given up believing it could be possible – yet here we are, threads filled with players complaining about how greedy the company is.

        I have played many games and I can say hands down Lotro has been the fairest, offering me the most for my money, and not because it is Middle Earth, but because the game is beautiful and I enjoy playing it dearly, often even forgetting it is Middle Earth, as that’s not on my mind while I raid or pvmp or craft. Other games have milked me for every penny they could squeeze from me, Lotro in opposition has offered me for $15 a month (the highest, if I pay per month), and the rare expansion in between, a gaming experience which has had me return to this game over and over.

        Time to sleep, very very late in Europe, and I shall wish you a good rest for when you crawl off too.

  14. Life contains changes* (wish there was an edit option)

  15. John /

    Áine Hee you are one of the few making a reasoned response to the criticisms.

    Turbine brought in this F2P model, we’ve had 7 years playing under it and for all that time all content has been available at time of release for purchase with points however accrued. Frankly this is not a sustainable model, but it was the one Turbine chose. A choice I would criticise them for and which would question their business sense and their running of the game. Some how they felt that in calling and advertising their game as “Free to Play” they had to.

    But now it’s under SSG and it gave us hope that they were no longer under the yoke of the suits at WB.

    However it’s not that they have suddenly decided to throw out the rules and impose this arbitrary content availability delay it’s the potential that they were completely oblivious to them. Does that not worry you?

    The Value in the packages has been questioned. In particular the Valar item that anyone who actually plays the game knows the other variants of it are used to sell on for in-game gold. Anything that has a high in-game gold value is potentially a gold seller’s dream item. If SSG has used previous store sales of such items to put a value on this Valar item, then it’s skewed at least by the black market in the game and at worst the gold sellars. Does that not give you cause for concern?

    Is it no surprise that allowing store bought items to be mailed with mithril coins has seen more and more gold sellars in /world chat since. Does this make you think?

    These are for all to see in game if you are prepared to look, if you actually play Lotro. If you close your eyes and block your ears and would rather not know so be it, that’s what SSG have chosen to do.

    J

    • SSG is bogged down with a model we both agree has been damaging to cash flow, and most certainly at this point in time, where the game is aging and like all aging games has to fund running and development with a smaller player base, it is no longer sustainable. I wish they had communicate this before hand, yet even if they had, part of the playerbase would have grabbed the pitchforks. It is very hard to take something away from humans they have grown accustomed to and are feeling an entitlement towards. Maybe they chose to not communicate it to avoid this storm happening even before the launch was given a date, as no matter what, it would have over shadowed the release of Mordor, and my guess is they weighed their options and decided to just drop that bomb as they did, believing it would still be the lesser of the evils they knew they’d come to face over this. Right decision? We will have to wait and see.

      As for being able to transfer store bought items now via the use of mithril coins – this is something the playerbase has asked for, above all else so that friends could gift items to friends, which I believe is how this feature is used in majority, but of course it has also enabled the selling of store items. However, I rarely see store items for sale or requested (and yes I do play the game and have done so for many years) this also because the store just does not contain much of interest (because we get so much fluff given for free, and virtue grinding was cut by half), and store points are available free to obtain within the landscape. The Valar items are the only items which seem to enjoy greater popularity, yet still only within a reasonably small margin. By adding such a boost item to all bundles, one could argue the company is trying to avoid granting fertile grounds to gold sellers, as new or returning players who do not possess level capped toons, can just jump in straight away, only having to purchase a bundle. Had they NOT added it, I would fear your worries would be far more founded. Whether it would be players eager to get a HE to cap, or new or returning players, the rush for Valar items would more than likely be considerably higher than usual, and thus the temptation for players to obtain gold or Valar items through criminal sources.

      I see reason in the decision the company has made, even though we are left to wonder whether early communication had been the better choice, but I honestly think a fall out over LP was unavoidable either way. Lotro has spoiled players for many many years, like a parent on a big enough paycheck, but the company is facing less income now and has to tighten the belt. Some of us have seen this coming and feel neither surprise no disappointment, while others appear to struggle with the new reality.
      Yet despite this expansion being more pricey if one wishes to opt for the fluff, Lotro still offers great value for money, no other game currently coming close to this in my view, and not just because it is Middle Earth, but there are many factors for me personally why I prefer and keep playing this game.

      • Arred /

        SSG sadly fails to use any business and/or common sense. Probably the number one advantage smaller companies have over the big ones is the comunication with their customers and making the customers part of their “family” by listening to their suggestions and allowing them to help, thereby giving them the feeling that they are also building this world we play in. But SSG not only does not listen to reason and very smart and elaborate suggestions for fixing various part of the game, they do not take advantage of the vast knowledge and wisdom of their players and don’t even comunicate in the crucial moments such as the Wastes lag or what is happening right now. Their silence will sooner or later be their doom.
        Even if they decided to go the other way around, they could have started a thread asking for oppinions on several key topics. Feedback to their plans. Even if it were only a strategic move to give players a feeling of having a part in this and some sort of saying, it would have sent a much better picture than changing everything we have known up untill now and keep silent.

      • The decision to not communicate can be debated, I have agreed on this, however to say that the company – previous or now – has not listened to players is false. I have played this game for many years and have seen features implemented based on player suggestions. They did not always get it right, but no game ever does. Pvmpers asked for a new map and a new map was granted, but the map proved unfortunately of no value to us. Many ended experiencing lag due to the layout and frills of the map, while I am certain the company thought it would be a nice addition, allowing for a more ‘guerrilla’ style warfare among the ruins compared to the open landscape of the Ettenmoors.

        There are many such examples. Players asked for cosmetic pets, yet when they were granted, players complained the company should have spent development time on other features. For years we begged to an update to housing – and received it. The company does not force us to use the store to dress our warsteeds up (what an amazing feature anyway, being able to customize one’s mount to one’s liking), but gives us beautiful cosmetics for free during every festival anew.

        The company has always listened, but the company can not always get it right for everyone. This can lead to joys as well as disappointments among the playerbase, yet every game is faced with this dilemma, this is not a Lotro specific.

      • Arred /

        I agree, they have listened at times. But their listening process is so slow that it compares to a large buerocracy/administration oriented company and not a small one which should be able to have a conversation with their customers. I did agree with you that we have got some great features and it is not all that bad, some things are actually wonderful. I am a person who hated housing and used it only for storage, only to be amazed with the premium house which I love. I am still not a decoration nut, but now I feel like I’m not living in a shed. But let’s just stop there and not let them mess up because they did some good things in the past. Their past efforts, however good some were, do not make them in any way immune to criticism and reactions like we see here, on other articles and official forums.

        I also agree they can not get it right for everyone. Not everyone is raiding, so people may not be happy to have some items locked behind the raid. Then raiders may not be happy when they introduce better items from landscape just a short while after raid came out, as it happened with North Ithilien. But I fail to see who they got it right for this time. We know people are buying and some are happy to buy Mordor and support the game. But a lot of those people also were ready to buy the biggest package, only to go with the standard one in the end. Even people who have went for the 130 USD one didn’t go that way for the value, but because of the love for the game, LOTR franchise, supporting the game and various other reasons.

        There is an apparent lack of developer letters too. (Back to communication again). The sorry excuse for the craftin dev letter is not even close to what we used to get. Even if they made a longer pre-purchase period and had some developer letters/diaries explain the expansion, the features, the vision, hopes… Maybe it would have paved the road for the prices they wanted to set. But you don’t just explode that on everyone after saying it would be in line with previous expansions.

        You can’t see it, but I am really not trying to defend my standpoint because I don’t see it as “mine” and I’m really trying to not be pesimistic, but when you compare them to some other companies who provide a service and how much value some of the other ones place in you by doing even the smallest things, like smiling to you and not at you, you put things into perspective. And inspiration for a company does not have to be drawn from the industry. They don’t need to look at WoW, they can look at PayPal for all I care, even though this is a bad example.

      • It has not always happened that we have seen the changes as fast as we would have wished to, agreed, but a company has to assess a lot more than just wishes and dreams, and if anything, SSG has encouraged players to come to the forums when they took over. I remember seeing a loading screen inviting players to participate at the forums, it stood out to me, yet I doubt many have felt enticed. Between work/school/other real life obligations, many do not choose to spend time at a forum, when they rather want to invest that spare time into gaming. This leads to forums turning into echo chambers of a few. I have watched the threads and in all truth, if the amount of players posting would stand representative of the numbers Lotro is left with, we would have a lot more to worry about than any disgruntlement about this expansion. There was a vocal group padding out those threads, and the same goes for world chats. One usually sees the same kind of players engaging there, while the majority remains quiet. Thus a company can not base every decisions on just the vocal group voicing suggestions or disheartenment. The company, I would strongly assume, goes by store and VIP sales figures and still other considerations we are not privy to, but which make sense for a company to take into account.
        Please do not mistake what I just typed for saying this vocal group does not represent the view of the majority of the playerbase, but this is something we can only use guess work on, SSG are the ones who are dealing with whether sales are matching their expectations or not.

        SSG is smaller, I assume, than the team we have seen through the previous years working also on developer letters and the like. I have played games where such were never published to an extend worth wasting time on reading, did not bother me, and rarely do I ever look at such anyway. I wait for what I actually see happening in the game, how it affects my time within the game. No developer diary I ever did spend effort on reading gave me a feeling of relevance. Playing the content is what matters to me, not reading about it, but others feel different and some companies try to cater to this group, so I hope SSG can manage to find the time to supply you again with more in-depth information in the future.

        We can debate all of this still for a long time, but it will only turn into a repetition of either facts or opinion. Reality is that the game has to find solutions for their funding model, and that it is hard to cut into privileges many have come to take for granted. Had we never been able to use store points which can be gained via landscape play to purchase expansions (which I consider a blunder that we were ever able to in the first place, and it certainly does not appear industry standard to me that we previously could), we’d not be upset finding this now coming to an end. Had we paid the same amount we paid for Rohan and other previous expansions, paid for Gondor, we’d probably see same price bundles now for Mordor, alas we were given Gondor for no extra cost on top of our VIPs, and f2p players were able to purchase the quest bundles just through grinding the store points.

        Gondor expansion (and with no store point purchase on launch) + Mordor expansion = we would have paid more than we now do for the base bundle (using Rohan prices), more than we now pay for the mid bundle had we purchased two mid bundles, and also more for the top bundle, even though the latter is very close, but it is not called ‘ultimate fan’ for nothing. Meantime we have had many gorgeous festival steeds released, warsteed cosmetics alongside with it, had a housing overhaul, beautiful housing items we can play for.. we have been treated more than well and still are, certainly from where I am sitting with my wallet.

      • Arred /

        A company as small as SSG does not need assesing like it would do if it were a large company, they do differ in that perspective too. They do need some, but it is much easier to manage. I rather wouldn’t be going into how they listen to players. If you’re listening to the players you will see that it is hard to comprehend how the High Elves are appearing now and how it is lore breaking. And they had to make these High Elves lower than the “real” ones because of… too much lore geek speak here. Instead of wasting money on developing a complete new race that doesn’t come with a class and is mostly cosmetic I think many would have had much rather that they used that time to work out the bugs. You will also see pleas from PvMP comunity for an update to both sides, some people are almost begging for the same armour to go to 105 without any other changes just so they don’t need to use level 100 essences if they use Audacity armour. I have also seen great proposals to revamp kinships and vaults, etc. Really, there is no need to encourage players to suggest and participate in the forums and then keep silent. I do not expect devs to now chat with us, I would much rather they do their job and develop the game we love, but they also can’t just be lurking in the shadow and never let players know if the idea had any impact or not and if something like a kinship will ever be worked on, so they stop suggesting eventualy.

        You keep saying what we got before and what is happening in other games. We are here talking about one game, LOTRO. Also, they do not get to charge backwards for everything they didn’t get to charge in an expansion or some sort of previous update to the game. And, believe me, they did charge for it through VIP and sales of LP. Otherwise there would be long out of business if they were funded only through sales of expansions. Have we gotten some nice things? Yes. Treated more than well? Really?! The ignoring and the silence is more than well? No content can replace the value a company gives to a customer. The respect and appreciation of ones customers goes a long way and because of it they can decide to purchase something that is more expensive. I have not seen that in a while.

      • So I feel highly valued as a customer, while you clearly don’t. I feel I have been listened to on some subjects, on others not. As an individual no, but as part of the playerbase, certainly. I have no issue with the company’s current silence, as I don’t feel they have to say anything to me, but maybe they still will speak to the playerbase, depends on their sale figures, not our discussions.

        I am totally not in favour of the HE, but others were totally not in favour of cosmetic pets. Many seem to greatly anticipate playing a HE, I do not, yet I can live with HE coming as a race and will.

        The past apparently does seem to matter when it comes to pricing, as this has been abundantly used in complaints, just when it comes to where we actually experienced savings, pricing from the past should not be brought into it. Same goes with the comparison to other games. Only when it suits.

        However, as said, it gets into repetition now and little use to continue the debate. I just wanted to make sure to show not everyone is disappointed, not everyone feels betrayed, and that there are strong arguments for a differing view point, nothing to do with being some blind ‘fangirl’ or ‘fanboy’, but a different approach and analysis.

        That’s life, I guess.

      • Arred /

        Nowhere did I ask that they answer directly to me, I am, however, saying that ignoring the customers questions and their concearns is a bad business model and one only sustainable because of the LOTR IP and nothing else, which also has its limmits.

        In favour of High Elf or not, anticipate it or not, if you had asked the player base what they would like to get I can tell you this wouldn’t be in the first 5. If at all on the list. Because we have so many more important issues in this game. Beornings are nowhere near fixed yet SSG allowes themselves the luxury of another race, another new thing to have bugs to fix.

        I didn’t insult your intelligence anywhere, so please don’t insult mine with this comment about the past being not important. And as far as I recall I didn’t say it isn’t important, I said they don’t get to charge retroactivelly for some good ideas and solutions they had. The past price has been made an issue only partly because of what the prices were in the past. It’s called a business model, consistency and all that. But largely because when asked about the price of the expansion the SSG always responded it would be in line with past expansions. It isn’t. Another bad thing to do as a business, say one and do another thing, break consistency without letting anyone know, etc.

        But I guess we can agree on one thing. There is no finding a common ground here. Thank you for your oppinion and the discussion, but I bow here out too.

      • Apologies if that comment came over as insulting, that certainly was not my intention, but I definitely wish you all the best, in real life as well as within the game. We had a civilized debate and I thank you for that, even if our views seem to differ starkly.

  16. John /

    I suppose my slant on things is heavily tainted by past history.

    Are you currently playing on servers located in Amsterdam? No.

    When were you informed that you wouldn’t be playing on servers in Amsterdam? A day or two before all our servers went Live in New Jersey.

    How many months before this did the Exec Producer tell a conference in California that she was responsible for moving the servers to a datacentre in another state? December the previous year:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb6fVOtc3Lc

    You have plenty of time to watch during the downtime. Specifically the EU datacentre is not in her remit months before the move. And if you remember at that time it’s passed off as a recent decision that they can better help support the EU customers if we are left at the NJ datacentre.

    Yes you have be spun, and the players continue to be spun.

    If was even several months after she was moved to EP another title that we were told we’d had a new EP even, and not even a fulltime one.

    And this one is responsible now. One with an eight post history on the official Lotro Forums. They have little more than contempt for the players and if proved to have failed go through this lockdown and hope it blows over. And it will if we let them continue to get away with it always.

    J

    • I am sitting in Europe too, yet the changes have not made any noticeable difference to me, I don’t share your grievances, and if I would, quite frankly I would have turned my back on the game, as one should not spend time on being miserable. Customer support for me in this game has been outstanding, I can tell you very different stories from my experience with other games, yet of course experiences can vary.

      Another thing I find interesting is that I respond to arguments raised, while responses to me seem to just keep trying to raise new issues and grievances, instead of engaging with the points raised.

      I make the decision if I am being spun, not you. You can make that decision for your own self, not for me or others who do not share your grievances. I see it as that this game has given me outstanding value for money, and it continues to do so. This far outweighs any upsets I have had, and I base my continuing support on my gains, while also acknowledging that upsets I have had were led by personal preferences and opinions, and companies are unable to take every single view/dream/wish into account. All I can hope for is that things I long for are longed for by a majority, and are possible to be implemented. If neither is the case, then I have to look what I do get, and if it does not satisfy me anymore, I have to move on, it is as simple as that. I can voice my grievances, argue for what I like or dislike, every player has that right (and SSG clearly has not refused this right on their forum), but you have to live with the fact others might end countering you, thus undermining your effort to convince others. We all have our convictions, thus is life.

  17. John /

    I’m not going to argue against opinions I agree with. I’m still here for the LotR IP. I know it offers tremendous value. Could I be happier, certainly yes. But then |I do suffer from the poor performance since the datacentre move and can only wonder that given all the time it took in dev time to make that move that they were making it up on the running cost, hence the performance. I lag in Raid groups so don’t partake much if at all now. I get skill lag at certain locations. Putting in numerous ;loc /bug reports has seen no improvements. So you just give up reporting because you don’t see any progress. I’m not bothered with collecting mounts or cosmetics or pets. I’ll ride whatever is at 68% and looks alright. But will notice when my skills don’t do what the description says it does, that a recipe to make a crafting crit item has an option to use the same crit item to improve the crit rate and many of the same shoddily implemented things in the game because the reduced dev team are tasked with things they don’t have experience of in game. I’m looking forward to seeing MoLs work and the other senior devs but not so much the efforts from those with insufficient time or skill to implement stuff by release day.

    But you are alright. It’s not any concern for you that people regularly crash porting into MT. That SSG are selling the most expensive content package option in the history of the game. That others struggle with the poor performance in PvMP. That when challenged in the forums to explain the recent situation they can ignore it and hope it goes away. That Cordovan would address those comments instead of searching for reasons to sanction the posters causing the grief and let their abusers off scot free ala his mate Sapience?

    If they had a leg to stand on don’t you think we’d have had a reply?

    J

    • Oh contraire, I feel for you on the lag issue. I have experience such with other games where I lagged and it destroyed all enjoyment for me, while the next player could run it perfectly fine. No idea what causes these differences, did not matter where servers were located, I have not played a single game out there which did not present this problem for some, while not for others.

      However, please do not throw the ‘you don’t care, just as long as you are fine’ card at me, because then I need remind both of us that people out there in this world are fleeing from war or are starving to death. I am sure they’d prefer having to be upset about lag in a game, and I also think they might feel we don’t care, as certainly our First World consumer habits don’t help them much. We could be out there volunteering all our gaming time to a homeless shelter, but as long as we get what we want from our game providers, we are alright. Slippery slippery road that one is…

      No reply could mean the forums do not reflect the sales figures, or no reply could mean they are working on a compromise. We just have to wait and see, but I have outlined my personal views on the subject, and shall not fall into the trap of further repeat.

      Hope your lag will fix itself, and that you can come to enjoy Lotro to the fullest again.

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