You all know I’ve been unhappy with all the non-fun stuff in LOTRO of late, right? From the dumb grind of gathering pages for books in a fashion that makes no sense, through the headache-inducing confusion of Legendary (ha!) Items to the just plain stupid amount of travelling about at the end of Volume 1 of the Epic Story, LOTRO has become, for me at least, a meal of steak where for every one bite of delicious, tasty prime rump I have to chew my way through five mouthfuls of sawdust first.
I still enjoy it, but in the space of a two months I’ve gone from rampant lover to going through the motions partner and frankly I don’t want that. I don’t want my game time to be mostly repetitive grind (although don’t mistake repetition for grind – look at Left 4 Dead 2 which masters repetition wonderfully) and therefore I find my eye wandering, although not too far just yet because of one simple factor: I have paid for a year of LOTRO and I don’t really want to waste my money by not playing it. Of course this strikes me, as no doubt it does you too, as not the best of reasons to stick with a game but I’ll let it slide for now as I have a bigger fish to fry as you’ll see.
Back when Turbine migrated our EU based servers into their NA based ones (June 2011) they offered the subscription deal of £99 for 12 months, effectively giving 2 months free over the per-month price. I snapped it up as before then I’d been paying more than the monthly fee in micro transactions in the store therefore it seemed a sensible move. But lately I’ve been wondering if I should bother renewing the subscription and instead drop back down to free instead and here are my reasons why:
- Guild Wars 2 is coming. I simply think I will be playing this more than LOTRO therefore why pay money for a game I won’t get the benefit from?
- The grindy nature of LOTRO has finally got to me. I completed Volume 1 (the story of which I loved!) not with a feeling of “Wow! Give me Vol 2 now!” but rather more of “Thank fuck that is over – at least I have one character who has completed it and I never want to have to do that again!”, and that doesn’t strike me as good.
- All the new content coming to LOTRO is bringing no benefits to me what so ever – it’s all end-game stuff, level 65-75 content and it will be months and months before I get there. Hell, even then so what? It’s just more of the same – kill 300 boars, 400 trees, 1,000 soldiers of X, Y or Z denomination. The upcoming Great River and Rohan content will give nothing to me whatsoever.
Yet even with all that I was still contemplating renewing as I love Middle Earth so much and really get a thrill from being a part of it. But then Turbine went and did two things that have pretty much made up my mind for me. They have asked me to pay for things I don’t believe I should be paying for.
Now I’m not a Store hater. Turbine have to make money, they have to satisfy their shareholders and pay their staff as well as invest in developing the game further, but when they ask me to cough up *more* money than my monthly subs for features that should be just a free part of the game, well that’s the point I cancel my sub and move to another game. So, given I *don’t* hate the Store and I *do* love the game, what are these things Turbine are asking my to pony up for? What could possibly be so offensive as to make we want to drop back to a free player? Well, let me tell you:
The first is the ‘skirmish soldier coming into the game’ feature, called by Turbine the Landscape Soldier. Turbine have teased us all with the promise that soon we’d be able to take our skirmish soldier anywhere with us and I was genuinely excited by that because I mainly solo-play and some extra help, even LOTRO’s not-very-good AI-help, is always welcome. Except now it appears that this will not be an awesome ‘free’ feature that a rival game like SWTOR just has built in, instead it will be a feature I will have to pay to use. I will have to buy tokens from the Store (or via skirmish tokens, but don’t get me started on my ‘tyranny of skirmish barter items forcing you to stop play and skirmish for days on end instead’ rant) to allow this soldier to help me, and even then only for an hour at a time. Jesus. Where do I start? What if I don’t want to, or suddenly can’t play for an hour? That will be a token only partly used and these things cost real money! A quid a pop by the look of it over on Contains Moderate Peril (and excellent site, btw)! So essentially Turbine are offering this feature to the wealthy (or careless) and the rest of us can go swing for all they care. Nice.
But that pales into comparison next to the barter wallet. Oh god, if Turbine ever do this I will be disgusted with them (I say *if* as it is currently on their test server and looks set to be released any day now but as things stand it hasn’t gone live yet). Essentially Turbine are offering an upgrade to the current in-game wallet that will allow it to take all the various bartering currencies out of valuable inventory space and into this one-stop interface. Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, especially as this is an improved (i.e. collects all of the currencies rather than just some of them) version of a feature they added to the game a while back and I would agree with you were it for one teensy tiny little ickle wickle point. They want to charge me £10 for it. Ten fucking quid. TEN! Ten quid to fix to an in-game feature they added in a half-arsed/broken way in the first place. This is akin to some dodgy builder badly installing a new window for you and then asking you to pay him to put it right and that, my friends, stinks to high heaven.
So fuck that! That’s done it for me. No one tries to fleece me so blatantly. Thank you Turbine for making up my mind. Come June I shall save myself a full £100 (ha! and the bloody rest! I hope the missus never finds out just how much I spent on this game) by not re-subscribing to your game. Oh I’ll still play, but I’ll stick to the epic storyline & exploring as that’s what I love – all the grinding you make me do, all the barriers you place in the way of me having fun just so you can slow me down enough to need the cash services of your shop, well I’ll say goodbye – and good riddance - to those. Instead I’ll spend my money elsewhere. Guild Wars 2 I guess, maybe Star Trek online. Anywhere but with a company that thinks so little of its customers to try and pull such a low-down, sneaky, cheating crappy stunt as selling them a fix to its own nalls up.