#LOTRO: An open letter to Turbine on why I will not renew my subscription.

I’ve never done this before. Oh I’ve ranted and blown off steam about this game or that, some broken feature or other, but I’ve never sat down and deliberately written a ‘letter’ to a company about why they have upset me so much. I suppose it’s mainly because I don’t think it would do any good – no company is going to listen to me are they? I don’t mean this on a personal level, but I am just a player and they have plenty of those without worrying about me. Still here I am and here is my letter to Turbine via their Community Manager, Sapience (aka @rickheaton). Now he’s a busy fella so I’ll get right to the point.

Dear Turbine,

I have loved LOTRO since I started in May 2011, enough that although it was my first ever experience with an MMO I gladly became a subscriber the following month. Since then I have played extensively and had an incredible time in the wonderful, beautiful world you have created and have happily spent several hundred pounds there in both subscription and store & Turbine Point purchases.

Yet now I find myself so upset by a single recent decision that I will not be renewing my subscription this year and I will not buy a single Turbine Point from your store again. I will do my utmost to ensure your company never has a penny of my money again.

Why you may (or may not) ask? What have we done to illicit such a strong negative response from you?

The answer is simple. The Update 6 premium wallet.

Now it is true that over December & January I grew sick of the grindy nature of the levelling & Legendary Item system, but I am not an idiot & I know that grinding is a part of pretty much all MMOs. No, it was not this that led me to my final decision.

It is also true that I have been looking around for a new MMO to play; from Star Trek to The Secret World to Guild Wars 2 I have been itching to try a new game, but never at the expense of LOTRO. Whilst I may not have endless hours of free time, I have enough to accommodate more than one game. Besides, my first love is always going to be Tolkien’s Middle Earth aand I have no intentions of giving that up.

Also don’t think I’m against the concept of in-game stores & micro-transactions: I’m not. You are a company. you need to make money to pay wages and develop games. I’m happy to pay for the service you provide in the full knowledge that your developers and staff can carry on making this and other games.

And please don’t imagine that I’m acting in anger over your recent “hiccups” in terms of communications and store items. Yes Isengard was messy; no I don’t care about stated items & even if the Landscape Solider was a total damp squib I don’t care as we all get things wrong. You are a games company & not a hospital and therefore when you get something wrong it is highly unlikely anyone will die.

No. What has so upset me is what I consider to be your totally unreasonable request that I pay 995 Turbine Points (that’s £10 to me here in the UK) for the convenience of using your new Premium Wallet feature. This is wrong.

As a subscriber I do not expect to be charged for an update to the game’s mechanics. This is not a storage expansion slot for my inventory or vault, this is extra functionality being added to an existing part of the game and that is what I expect my subscription to cover.

Now it is true that since you announced this wallet I will probably have received enough Turbine Points from you in the form of my 500 per month stipend to purchase this without spending another extra penny of my money, but I’m afraid that is not only not the point, it is simply not good enough. I do not like to be dictated to on how I spend my points, I do not like to feel forced in to a decision. They are my points, not yours and even though I have about 10,000 of them just sitting there I will not be told how I should spend them.

So even though I have the points. Even though I have the disposable income. Even though I have bought inventory, vault & wardrobe storage space from you in the past. And even though I have no need in the game for the wallet as reputation and barter items are not an issue for me, the decision to charge me £10 for this feature has so angered and upset me that I will not renew my subscription at the end of June this year and I feel certain I can foresee no circumstance in which I would subscribe to another game your company ever produces.

I say this as a calm and rational customer, not a febrile fanboy furious over the lore behind a bearded dragon. After all, I expect you to stare at my open wallet with naked hunger, I just don’t expect to find you trying to pick my pocket as well.

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31 comments

  1. Thank you, saying so eloquently what I have struggled to not say in more base and crass terms. I’ve been around LOTRO a tad longer – being lifetime account from Open Beta, but you have summed up so nicely what so many of us veterans have been unable to put to words.

    Thank you.

    1. It was a struggle, believe me but even though I’m convinced it will do no good I needed to get it out. I love the game (if not the mechanics employed) so much that this actually hurt me – I never thought for one minute Turbine would try & fleece me like this. Ah well, I’ve always been naive.

  2. Im right there with ya! i haven’t paid a sub since free to play launch, nor bought TP, i have won all mine from websites & podcasts. I will not ever buy TPoints or subscribe, if i want it bad enough, ill grind deeds and get my points that way, it may mean that i wont get to see the content when everyone else does.. but i dont care about that, if i dont get new content for 6-7 months after release, oh well..

    1. Yup, well as I pre-ordered the biggest Isengard box I have all the content I’ll ever need I reckon, that and enough TPs to make my journey a little easier. Come May I’ll be a freer again. 🙂

  3. TUrbine’s sole motivation now seems to be to drive people to the point shop. With regard to the “premium Wallet”, it’s been very convenient for them to create the problem by making all the different barter currencies and now sell us the solution at a “Premium” price. This is of course only my opinion and the Turbine “defenders” will most likely poo poo this notion. That’s ok, they’re allowed to have an “opinion” as well.

    1. I’ve heard the term “crippleware” used about this and although I have no idea if that is the case or not, I would have thought any company worth its salt wouldn’t even want to be associated with such an accusation.

  4. I am sorry but I do not agree with your opinion, although you are more than entitled to it, and here is why:

    ‘Your subscription pays for the access you enjoy now. It won’t change. Your sub will pay for and provide what it always has. Now, with Free-to-Play we’re adding additional value to your subscription in the form of Turbine Points. It’s a bonus, not a replacement’ http://forums.lotro.com/showthread.php?335184-Cost

    Turbine charges you a monthly fee. This fee allows you to get all the content which is made available through the content updates. These updates have increased in frequency since F2P went live because Turbine has seen increased revenue and is rightly funnelling that extra cash back into the game. Apart from that you are also getting 500 points extra a month to buy stuff with from the store. As Sapience pointed out: these points are a bonus, something EXTRA. Moreover you also get to earn actual points while playing, something many people seem to overlook. What this means is that you can actually get the expansions without paying additional money. No other subscription based MMO allows its players to get the expansions without spending extra money over and above their monthly subscription. Now, if you decide to spend those points in another way, then well and good. It’s your choice at the end of the day. But, as you probably found out, subscribers who are cautious with their points usually have more points than they really need to spend. Turbine knows this. They designed it that way.

    The point of contention is the barter wallet. Are you paying points for something that was broken and needed to be fixed anyways? Look at it this way. Would it have been more acceptable if the barter wallet used slots like bank storage? Say the barter wallet allowed 8 slots previously but now you can upgrade it to 32 slots. What is more some of those slots are shared slots. The bank, cosmetic wardrobe and shared item storage have followed this model. You still need to spend points to upgrade them and very few seem to have a problem with that. While the barter wallet may be perceived as being different it’s basically the same thing when you get down to it. The difference being that instead of upgrading the number of slots you have available you upgrade the range of items it can store.

    If you are really enjoying the LOTRO experience then I do not think that the price of admission is in any way too steep. I do believe you are being unfair towards Turbine. Yes, it is a games company out to take your money. They ARE a business after all. That is what they do. But when you stop and think about it LOTRO is extremely good value for money despite any grievances you might have. Consider also that you can easily switch to premium, have access to the characters you invested so much in, and realistically not need to spend more money for a long time to come with your 10,000 TPs. Other subscription based MMOs shut you out when you stop paying. If you are getting burnt out on the game, and it does happen, then gracefully move on and play LOTRO as your secondary MMO every now and again. LOTRO is very happy to let you do that without draining more money off of you.

    1. Hi MVH and thank you for such your well thought out and cogent arguments and opinions (unlike the odd trolls I have had here and whose comments I have deleted). I can fully see how, from a view point other than my own, the subscription would not ‘entitle’ me to the wallet update. I still believe it does, but am more than willing to concede that I am labouring under a erroneous understanding of the subscription system. If so then I feel let down in another respect – communication from Turbine. I really feel they should be making more of an effort in this regard and simply putting these things out so close to release (the first I heard was when it appeared in the Bullroarer store) is just not good enough – it breeds misunderstanding and resentment.

      As you say (and as I alluded to in this and a previous post) I fully intend to stay in the game as I do love it, but I will go down to Premium. At the speed I play, the content I have bought so far will keep me going for a couple of years at least.

      Still, I stick by my central point that even though I understand Turbine to be a business in the business of making money, I feel they have stretched me a little too thin with this one. I reiterate that I do feel hurt by this decision, or maybe ‘let down’ would be a less emotive phrase that lies closer to the truth. Let down that, by my standards at least, they seem to think so little of us to try and squeeze money out of us in this greedy fashion.

      Of course, ymmv 🙂

      1. Yeah, on that regard I totally agree with you. Turbine is having lots of trouble communicating effectively with their community. They have become reactive rather than proactive. A similar situation arose with the ‘skirmish soldier on landscape’ boast. I have no problem with they way they chose to implement it in the end, but how they communicated this idea before launching it misled a lot of players so when the feature launched it was met with an unimpressed ‘meh’. They have a very good business model in my opinion, but it may alienate a lot of people if they are not frank about their intentions with certain aspects of the LotRO store.

  5. I don’t understand how this isn’t just “storage expansion slot for my inventory or vault”. Marks/Medallions/Seals/Etc are shared across your account now whether you buy the wallet upgrade or not. What else does the wallet do that is extra functionality?

    1. Well it may be and certainly some of the comments here and elsewhere are in the manner of “it’s just storage and you have to pay for that VIP or no” but it’s just that this doesn’t feel like storage and wasn’t communicated as storage – this was shown as an upgrade to the wallet system Turbine had added sometime ago therefore, to me at least, it feels like a system upgrade, not a convenience item.

  6. I have to say I don’t agree. it is an utterly unnessecary purchase, much like shared storage (but very nice). I think this is the core of most debate over this, some see it as ‘bug fixing’ whereas I think its nonsense, to me it is more akin to shared storage and extra vault space, which everyone is seemingly happy to pay for. It makes things easier and more convenient, but you don’t need it to play it, indeed I have played over 10 alts (half to level cap) without it, so I think its nice to have, but not nessecary in anyway, we haven’t bought it on one of our accounts, as we only have 2-3 characters there, and it is of no use really. The important bit is free, and that is the currency consolidation is free to all.

    Free for VIP is something I hear a lot, and I guess that would be nice, but as much is still bound to character, I imagine it would be pretty complex when someone dropped their sub. Where does the stuff go, presumably it gets reconverted and dumped into the characters bags? What happens when the characters bags are full? Does it get posted to them? What happens if they drop sub, and they have no space/don’t retrieve it, and then don’t log for a months or so, is it all lost? That’d please some folks.

    I think the current system is cleaner, and a simpler, a 1 point check, and as you say, 2 months of VIP gets you it ‘free’ anyway, IF you choose it, again it is by no means nessecary. For what its worth, I earnt 500 TP towards mine in a few evenings deeding over a couple of weeks (and got my deeds up!).

    Yeah, sure it earned Turbine some more cash, ain’t no point being blind about it, they didn’t do it for the good of world peace, when some game companies are shutting they are announcing expansions and walking home with a safe and secure job, I view the two holistically, and make my choice. Its such a non issue for me personally when good content is being delivered alongside.

    I wholeheartedly support your descision to not re-sub though, if this is what gets your, and many others goat, then that is the only way to get your message through,

    I say this as a calm and rational lore fanboy, not a ferile gamer angry over monetary gating of game mechanisms. 😛 (That was supposed to be a joke, not an insult! :)) I’m sure I have already been branded as a Turbine apologist by most readers.

    1. Turbine apologist? Pah! I tweak my nose at those who say such silly things 🙂

      I’m getting two strong themes coming through these comments, the first being anger at a feeling of being scammed or milked (I’ll place myself in that camp) whilst the second is your “this is extra storage, useful but ultimately unnecessary and therefore not worth getting upset about” and I do have a considerable amount of sympathy towards that view. Indeed then more such comments that come through, many from more experienced players such as yourself, the more I begin to wonder if this isn’t just another cock-up in communications from Turbine (who seem to be shockingly bad at it with their latest release having an almost “We are trying so fuck you!” tone to them).

      Either way, I won’t be re-subbing because, as you quite rightly say, it’s my only real option to be heard. But I shall still play the game as I bloody love it (well, not the LIs and grinding, but you get the picture 😀 )

      1. I think you are dead right, it is poor communications again, same with the skirmish soldier. I have friends who work in high profile marketing, and they will tell you: with regard to your product: dress it up and word it how you like, spin it out as much as you want, but tell people the truth, and how it works up front. Leaving them to guess and revealing your plan later is underhand, and I think the latter is where many peoples anger comes from.

        No ones really like the LI’s, its better at cap, just don’t bother indulging it until you are at cap. My advice would be find an LI to use, don’t slot any relics on it, or if you do just a tier 1 setting, and just use it, level a few others LIs up to destroy for relics (at level 11, 21, 31, 41, you choice, I just do 11 until I am past 65), and every 3-5 levels swap your LI out for a new one with better dps (ignore your class item as long as you like just use whatevers half decent). When you are at level cap you can start to find something good, but until then, what you have will be more than adequate.

        In LOTRO’s defence to Yordie below, the story and game is great, and the community is too, I think this comments sections is pretty representative of the in game community. Yes we disagree, but we can do it in an adult and friendly fashion for the most part!

    1. Aww, please do’t let me put you off Yordie – LOTRO is a greater game and has one of the most generous free player allowances out there – it’s just the company, like good old Linden Labs did & does, has screwed up on this matter. Give it a try, if you like Tolkien you will love LOTRO!

      1. I’ll be heading into STO this weekend. I’ll just put LOTRO a little lower on my list. I’m really not good at these MMOs. Didn’t like WoW and even though I wanted to like Aion I was frustrated with some software nonsense.

        1. aww no don’t be put off by this issue – lotro is a great game and if you love tolkien or the lotr films, you’ll just love the game 😉 as Adam says, the community is also great both in discussion forums and in the game itself.

          I’d also say its a far better and easier new experience than STO in my opinion but that may well be just because I can’t get the hang of flying a spaceship 😉

  7. While I understand that the premium wallet is overpriced and the felling that it should be free to subscribers, it is a totally unnecessary necessity to the game, it is not a forced purchase that people must make to succeed in the game. I have been with LOTRO since about a month after it became f2p, I have since then purchased every quest pack and expansion thus far in the game and have bought countless hundreds of dollars in TP since then (much to my wifes dismay) I feel that the game has grown a lot since then, much do to the fact that yes turbine is trying to make money, but they have also made significant improvements to the game, some good some not so much. That being said I think turbine has made some mistakes but I do see that they are trying to improve the quality of life in game by such a convenience as the premium wallet, and they have every right to charge for that convenience. They still made the regular wallet better than before with the addition of being able to share marks between accounts. Like I said before the new wallet isn’t a forced purchase as you do not really need it and can get by without it.
    I get so upset when people rant and rave about a company trying to make money, that is what they do and the sole purpose of why they produced it in the first place and brought us the wonderful world of lotro where many of us get to live and adventure thru middle earth. this is not Burger King and it is not have it your way and it would be no different if any other company were producing the game, in fact it could be worse. Just enjoy the game or move on, if you don’t like it go somewhere else where in a few months you will probably be whining about that game and the decisions the game producers there make.

    1. Hi Jon & thanks for your comment. Well the first paragraph anyway.

      I agree that the wallet is not something I need and I say this clearly in the post. I also agree that no one is making me spend my TPs on it but I simply do not agree that I “ranted & raved” in the post (I have in others, but not this one which was a deliberate choice by me as I had addressed it as a letter to Turbine and didn’t want to rant at them). Also I think I made it very, very clear in the post that I have zero problem with Turbine being a company in the business of making money – hell, without them doing so there would be no game for me to enjoy – so for you to raise that in your second paragraph is disingenuous in the least. As for your “stop whining or move on” crack at the end, well that is just silly and beneath you if your earlier comments are to be taken as an indication of your reasonable nature. If people didn’t complain about things they considered to be wrong then companies would never know when they had done something wrong. If I love the game but dislike the company for what I see as a greedy move then I have every right as a (currently) paying customer to tell them without simply throwing my toys out of the pram and moving to another game, a move that would achieve nothing.

  8. Hard not to agree with you. I thought some of the same things. Kinda hurt to realize what the lotroStore is, or could become based on seeing this.

  9. It seems to me that when a previously subscription only MMO starts to offer more ways to p(l)ay you start seeing a shifting ‘acceptibility’ line for store bought or store only items. For some people they (and other MMOs) crossed this line a while back, for others it was the premium wallet and for some it hasn’t yet been crossed. I expect Turbine’s line will be balancing making a profit v shedding customers 😉

    Personally, I’m not happy that they decided to charge all customers for the use of this function. Perhaps I’m just too used to the old-school subscription model… I have to admit to being very surprised at having to pay for shared storage as I came from a game (eq2) where shared storage and… wait for it…. 😉 a wallet which contained all barter items, coins etc was just there as basic functionality.

    in reply to Jon (above):

    for what its worth, I don’t think HBA’s post is whiny at all. If you read his post and his later comments, its clear that he still loves the game and will continue playing but he feels they have taken the wrong turn with this decision. Surely they need to know why some customers are not happy with this change as well as that other customers are happy? 🙂

  10. Nice post and letter. I didn’t bother writing to Turbine, although maybe I will now. Awhile ago, I blogged about my inner conflict about the Lotro Store here: http://lotrogirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/time-to-say-goodbye.html

    In the end, I decided to do something I never thought would happen when I fell for this game… after 4 years of playing.. I unsubbed, too.

    I didn’t make the decision lightly, because I know I won’t change my position on this. I won’t compromise anymore, and I don’t expect a company — that is happily making money — to change what they’re doing. So, I expect I’ll never play LOTRO again.

    I even stopped using the name “LOTROgirl” online.

    It sucks. It wasn’t my first game, but it was the first one that I fell in love with as a gamer. Now I just try not to think about how much I miss playing, raiding, laughing with my kinship, immersing in the lore… everything.

    As for my gaming future? SWTOR promised to be a “game changer” and it was disappointing. Now, I’m trying to look forward to Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World… hoping that they make better decisions, and that keeping their players happy and making a large profit won’t, once again, be mutually exclusive.

    Good luck in your future adventures!

    ~Bridget

    1. Aww mate, that is awful! I know how it feels to have your heart broken by a game, as daft as that sounds. Second Life did it to me a couple of years ago & LOTRO, to a lesser extend, has done it again.

      I honestly think that even though GW2 will have problems with its cash shop, the mere fact I won’t be paying a sub means that I’m in the same boat as everyone else so it won’t sting as much when they pull a ‘wallet’ on us, as they probably will do one day whether by error or design.

      When you get into GW2, let me know where and we can adventure together and discuss our LOTRO memories, happy & sad 🙂

  11. turbine i hate you!!, first you kill AC2 the mmo that got me hooked on mmo’s, and now LOTRO, loved every second i played lotro, great music, great raiding great company from other players, epic story, epic well every thing and now you totally ruined it be being a bunch of greedy money taking dickheads i f’hate you . rant over

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