The Sound of Silence

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I have had great feedback on the article I written about the story behind the disappointment. You all have been a great support. Even disagreeing with some of you in a constructive manner was one of the better things to share with you and not just you reading or even not reading what has been written. Thank you for that.

But it has been pointed out to me that SSG and the older version of it – Turbine – and the developers that work there have given us many good things in the game, many great features and many great moments. And I do not disagree with you here. Not only were we given some great things, we have also been given some things that were previously said to be impossible. Cosmetic weapons and off-hands, new premium housing area, feature that lets us move the housing items outside of their usual hooks, various cosmetic items, some great stories and quests, some good Epic Book quests, good instances and raids… I am a person who was converted to actually liking housing when the premium ones came out, because suddenly I didn’t have to live in a shed. Some couples have even met thanks to the game and married. But the fact that SSG has had some good decisions, ideas and products in the past does not mean they didn’t also have bad ones and that because of the good ones it would now be fine to retroactively charge for all that. Especially because all that was paid with VIPs and LPs. Having done some good things in the past does not make anyone immune to the critique in the present or the future. The players won’t start paying for a dating service now too, will they?

This article isn’t even the “aggressive” one, I am just very saddened that SSG has actually chosen to ignore the entire player base that has voiced their concerns in various channels. We have participated in threads on the official forums, there are comments on shares in the social media, some have participated in chats in-game, various written articles in unison that this expansion stands out, and most recently – the +Cord of the Rings stream.

The threads on the forum actually stopped for a while to see if there will be some official reaction to what has been happening for the past few days since this has been announced. Nothing. Not even a mention of the situation, an acknowledgment of some sort. While some of the participants have been asking questions about it and about some other in-game „stuff“ the team comprised of Cordovan and QuartermasterU was more interested in some casual talk about the lucky duck title, food, trash metal and „what shoulders are those“. Only thing Mordor related, as far as I remember, was the talk about the Aria of Valar, and QU, when asked about the new bridle LIs, I even feel bad pointing this out, suggested there will be new ones, confused or not knowing that there hasn’t been new LIs in a while and that we are now using a different system.

When SSG announced that they have parted ways with Turbine people were hopeful that something would change and in their hopes they forgot that the team working on the games has stayed the same. SSG, now an indie studio, a smaller company should have been using advantages that every smaller company has over a large one and a big advantage is – communication. The very thing we are lacking now.

At its size we should be able to have a conversation SSG to consumer, but we don’t. For the second time, at least, we are getting ignored and we are left to vent and hopefully calm down on our own. The silence is deafening. I attribute this to not knowing really much about running a business. No content you put out, especially a rushed one with bugs and a more expensive one than previous expansions even though it was said in countless streams it would be in line with those, can replace the value a company places in its customers. And a customer will always show his appreciation for this by paying more. Customers do pay more for a product based on how they are being treated. If you had exactly the same steak in a great, expensive restaurant and in a cheap restaurant, you would be fine paying more for it in the expensive one because of the treatment you got.

When speaking about the communication with the players, I have to mention the complete lack of developer diaries/letters. Even these could have been used as a great form of marketing and in a longer pre-purchase period they would be introducing the expansion to the players, building interest and intrigue. Recently we have gotten two short ones. These 2 interviews have left the players after reading them more confused than informed. So much so that a thread on the forum with my own „developer letter“ linked has been started under the name „Actual Crafting Dev Diary“.

Maybe the SSG is satisfied by the sales they had so far, I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that quite a decent number of players are spending the money not because of the quality, but because it is LOTR and because it is Mordor, because they want to experience what we have been building up to for over 10 years, in support of the game, etc. There are also those who will just play the epic and be done with everything. But I am convinced that had this been approached differently they would be making a lot more money with a lot less unhappy people.

After canceling my subscription after what happened with the Wastes – not the lag, the lack of communication then too – I was really hoping to buy if not the highest, then maybe the 2nd highest package and go VIP again, none of which is happening, again, not because there will be bugs in the early release, but because as a part of the group that has voiced the concerns and got no answers I do not feel I have been heard, appreciated and valued as a customer.

I do hope that this piece gets to someone in SSG somehow. Not so I could „give them a piece of my mind“, but just to say that there is no shame in saying you have made a mistake or that you were wrong or that you do not know something. You can not do everything perfectly, nor can you know everything. But what you can do is nurture a relationship with the people who have stayed with the game through thick and thin, communicate what is going on with the game a little bit better and a little bit more often, because a lot of what has happened and what has been said was not because of the price (or any other reason, for that matter), but because the company has made a choice to not inform the player base that they are turning 180° and that all the consistency up untill now has no meaning. Actually, at times we have been told the opposite would happen and it didn’t. And all that information has been thrown at us only a couple of weeks from the release date. There certainly were some players who expected something that was unrealistic, but they were not in the majority.

So, do I think that the players should let go of this because nobody has reacted to what is happening? No, I really hope the forum posts continue. I have no way of knowing if there are some legal issues that you can not discuss, but this situation could have certainly been mitigated if we weren’t surprised by it and then ignored. Just someone to come out and say „You know what, you have been heard“ would alleviate a lot, I believe.

I just hope that it is evident that everything that is being done and said is not out of spite or hate towards SSG and certainly not LOTRO, or any part of the team in particular or anything like that. Even if it sometimes comes with harsh words, it is so because we do love this game and want it to be good and even better, it comes with good intentions. Not everything that is good comes in a nice wax sealed letter with gold font, like you just got invited to Hogwarts.

21 comments

  1. GeneralPepe /

    How many of this cringy crying articles we gonna have ?

    • Arred /

      As many as we have comments to shut up. Thank you for taking your time to post an insult probably without reading. Have a nice day.

      • GeneralPepe /

        So you admit that your articles have zero worth other than being a venue for your frustration that no one is interested in ?
        And someone criticizing your work is not an ” insult “,sounds like a typical modern snowflake argument .
        Good day sir .

      • Fredl Fesl /

        Don’t feed the troll!
        Unfortunately, the good old TURbine Defenders are back nowadays to tell us that the one thing they can’t stand is “all this negativity”. (I would call it constructive critisism, but what do I know …)
        Please keep up your good work and don’t let them discourage you from providing us with an unbiased point of view.

  2. drozd /

    Didn’t read. Another useless whiny blogger.

  3. Arabany /

    I’m not sure who the owner of Lotroplayers is, but there is defenitely too much of Areed last days. I come here to read news and find useful information, not to see the same article over and over.

    I am realy sad to see, that younger generation struggles at communication and uses crying, or anger as an ultimate means.

    • Draculetta /

      I’m the owner and lead director of the site.

      I let the writers on the site, have the freedom to post what they want, unless there starts to be a problem and within our site rules (Which all writers are aware of)

      We try to show both sides of the coin, the Good and The bad of LOTRO. We strive not to be all negative or all positive either, for that matter. We want a good mix of opinion. As look as we can all get along and be adults and keep it civil. I don’t censor or edit anything here, unless there is a need (Personal attack, etc..)

      Drac

  4. another player /

    It’s clear SSG wont give us any answer, maybe their sales ratings going well I don’t know.
    But they lost me as paying customer, I think most of the people realized that and if we wont get honest comment from the team until the launch it will be the straw for many players.

  5. Marmi /

    I agree with Arabany.
    I’d like to see article or statement if the rest of LP redactors fully support Arred in his opinions. It seems not all commentators agree with author.
    I’ve read everything, yes. Maybe I’m missing something (I’m not native) but I couldn’t find a single positive opinion about anything in Mordor expansion.

    • Arred /

      No, what you would like to see is LP denounce one of the contributors because you do not share the views. 🙂
      Not every person reading these articles has the same opinion, as much as not every person involved in LP has the same opinion as me. Which is good.

      • Marmi /

        No, I would like to see a statement, comment, whatever from another LP redactor whether they fully share you opinions.
        I share some of your concerns, I also (unlike you) see some good parts of new expansion. To be clear, I’m not fascinated about it’s Mordor at all. Before they announced it I thought we never go there questing as it will be heavily lore breaking. I learned later that Mordor takes places after ring is destroyed so pretty much devs can do what they want now. This is main concern for me, I’m not sure I’ll want to play after LoTR game…

      • Arred /

        I do not understand what you are trying to achieve. We are all different people and may or may not share the same views. The fact that we are on the same website writing articles about the same game doesn’t mean that we have some hive-like collective oppinion about everything. It wouldn’t be any good if we all had the same views. And what now?

      • Draculetta /

        All opinion on the articles we write on the site, our that of the writer that does the article. It might necessary be the same as any other member of the staff, or the site as a whole.

        As I said before, I let the writers have the freedom to express there opinions freely. Unless there is a problem, then I’ll step in and do something, but as long as it stays civil.

  6. I read the entire article. I’ve seen the expansion price tiers…have not been to the forums.

    I’ve been VIP for 6+ yrs. Love the game! I’m very happy we’re finally to Mordor!

    Don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    • Arred /

      The fuss is usually: price (said it will be in line with other expansions – it isn’t), packages (not enough in them for what they are asking, low value for some; high elf not included in standard even though it is part of mordor expansion), change in direction without notice (people buying LP preparing to buy the expansion that way now have to wait), the state of the expansion on Bullroarer (a lot to be done, yet they announced July 31st), the silence (ssg not responding to any questions or critique anywhere).
      In fact, you can read more about the fuss if you follow the link in the first paragraph, this article was just to say that I am disappointed with the silence of the company in spite of everything. Or, if you like to quote doctor who: The Silence will fall when the question is asked. 🙂

  7. Thimbur /

    Well. Whichever side of this issue you may be on, it saddens me that the people complaining about the article don’t actually produce any counter argument.

    All we get are accusations of “crying”; of being “a useless whiny blogger”; and that it’s “a typical modern snowflake argument”.

    This sounds more like an attempt to shut down the other side of the discussion rather than discussion itself. It also comes across as quite rude.

    • Arred /

      You are right. If you look at the link from the first paragraph, we had some great discussions there. Didn’t agree on everything, didn’t have to, just shared our oppinions and viewpoints.

  8. Hey, Arred. You know I don’t fully agree with you on “stuff,” but a well-written piece. I wonder how deep the debate really is? For those of use to keep up on LOTRO events and trends, it seems like the whole community. However, when I look at one of my longstanding Kins in-game, the same concerns are for the most part not reflected. SSG might consider it a risky move to say anything right now. We will likely never know the business-end of things, Turbine (now SSG) got burned in the past with a little bit of business information turning into Tin-foil hat fueled problems. Not that I don’t like Tin-foil hats, quite the opposite in fact.

    Let me don my 10 galleon tin-foil hat for a moment. An idea fell out of my head sparked by Bree and Justin at MassivelyOP the other day. Most older MMO seem unlikely to ever significantly increase their player base ever again. They mostly pull back some of their old player-base with an occasional new person joining. Some not only manage to keep running but still are able to put out a large amount of good content. I just looked EQ2 (Daybreak). Here is a 13 year MMO that just put out another large x-pack last year. The pricing for the x-pack is $35 for the regular, and then $90 and $140 if you want extra stuff. Is this the x-pack business model that still allows EQ2 to continue to develop large content drops? Is it greed or necessity?

    We have been told by SSG that Daybreak as the publisher will help them with business support. I would consider having access to a lot of information on both successful and failed older MMOs business support. Hmmm … $40 for the regular, and then $80 and $130 if you want extra stuff.

    I myself feel it’s necessity and I’m overall happy with the x-pack business model since the regular price is reasonable. I’m not 100% on everything, I would have shuffled around some stuff, but that’s “beating a dead horse.” I’m am sure SSG is, in fact, listening to the feedback to help them with future business ideas.

    • Arred /

      Thank you, GumpsGang. I appreciate that very much. I could probably write a piece on different player types and who is not concerned with what is going on, but I should probably refrain myself from doing so. 🙂 But just for the heck of it, I’ll say here that those are the people who are not looking at this from a business perspective, not thinking of themselves and a client/consumer and SSG as a provider of goods. There are certainly more of these types, some do it for the sentimental value for being here for 10+ years, some do it because they just can’t give up on something and they know the LOTR lore better than Tolkien himself, some just don’t care about money, some just want to help the game stay alive and some have just come to terms and given up fighting. But it should also say something to SSG that the “lifers” who have been here all the time are now deciding to not continue playing.
      I like how some of those people call themselves fans of LOTRO, but I must say that I loved a comment on the forums where someone said that the people standing up for standing stone (no pun intended) could be more seen as SSG fans and the people actually asking questions and posting all the critique, often based on what they seen on BR, which means they made an effort to download, log-in and test the content, are the true fans of LOTRO.

      I do not like the prices they chose not because they are too high, but because they said those would be in line with previous expansions and they aren’t. What gets me more is not the prices, but that we were fed one story and got a different outcome. Another thing that irks me is that this is not a pre-order. We get NOTHING extra for buying a cat in the bag and you can say that we pay more with cash than someone will with accumulated LP. Some did buy it too, to be fair.

      And you are right… There is no way they are getting new players, because this game has become very unfriendly to new players. I’m a raider and my gear will be useless very quickly. How do they think some new player would enter Mordor without some time spent farming the content before that? And people want to do that as much as someone now would want to farm something as old as Ruined City or Dome. It can be fun a few times, but that is not holding you back from going further.

      What could they have said? Who knows. Maybe not much. Maybe what they can say they think is not enough. But it is an awful lot when you compare it to ignoring people. It is MUCH more than pretending nothing happened and talking about trash metal while the page count on some threads is just rising by the day.

  9. Braag /

    Unfortunately, as much as I would like for SSG to be more transparent and engage with the community with their logic/thinking behind decisions such as this, I believe it’s highly unlikely we will ever see that happen as it sets a precedent that they are accountable for a response to the community whenever issues such as this arise which can only cause actually WORSE PR for them than what they are receiving around these decisions now. I actually think it would be a big mistake for them to address the uproar from a business standpoint. Whatever justifications they provide would just continue to be dissected in forums ad nauseum, and they would be asked for another response, etc..
    I believe their best course of action at this point would be to keep their mouths shut and focus on delivery to the best of their ability. If they can throw players an unexpected bonus of some kind at roll-out to address quality issues, great, but changing their minds on what is in packages or the pricing of packages will just train customers (us) to expect the same going forward which is not in their best interests.
    Players on the other hand, should continue to provide reasoned feedback regarding any dissatisfaction in the hopes that it will influence future direction. We know from past examples that they receive/hear it, even if they cannot acknowledge it. It’s frustrating for customers not to get that feedback loop closed, but you have to just hopefully take solace in the fact that your opinions are getting heard.
    In the meantime, vote with your wallet and try to enjoy the game as best you can.
    Thanks for the dialog and Cheers,

    Braag of Vilya

    • Arred /

      They don’t need to take responsibility for anything, but a precedent for communicating with their consumers can’t be bad. Cordovan is trying, but it is very hard to communicate with someone who knows very little about the game or even what is happening in the background with the pricing. At least I’d like to believe that he wasn’t intentionally saying that the price would be in line with other expansions and then just go “bazinga”.
      I canceled my VIP when they didn’t even address the players with the lag issue in the Wastes. How can a company stay silent and not even say something generic like “We are aware of the issue and are working on resolving it for your best experience”. I would love to buy products from that company.

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