Massively got some updates from Turbine on the present and future of LOTRO.
An unheralded bargain....
Sometimes, I have to wonder about Turbine's marketing department. I never received an email invitation to last month's welcome back event for former subscribers, though I'm told that some people did. They did send me an ad for their anniversary welcome back event, but they failed to mention an absolutely crucial point that I just learned via Massively.... they're now selling the expansion (which includes the base game) for only $10.
For perspective, a former player like myself who does not own the expansion would ordinarily have to shell out $20-30 for the expansion and then pay $15 per month for the subscription to come back to the game full time, for a total of $65+ if you presume a 3-month visit to Middle Earth. With the box sale and the anniversary promotional rate, that same expansion key and three month subscription will cost only $40 (with further savings if you stay subscribed for longer). It's unclear how long the box sale price will last, but the subscription promo will run through the end of June.
I'm not sure why they're not actually, you know, promoting this promotion. There's absolutely no way it makes sense for me to carry three subscriptions at once, but the price factor alone is making me reconsider whether it's worth suspending one of my existing games in the short term to snag this thing before it expires.
Geography and Level Caps
I've speculated that we will see an expansion that focuses on Dale and the events from The Hobbit in 2011. That's still possible, but Massively's info says that players will see parts of Mirkwood forest and Don Guldur later this year.
The other bit of news is that the game will see an increase in its level cap sometime this year. They don't specify whether this means that the next expansion (almost certainly Rohan) will be arriving in 2009, but that possibility certainly makes a fair amount of sense. Between frequent discounts (including some lifetime subscribers who will never pay another monthly fee) and a smaller-than-WoW playerbase, Turbune can probably use the revenue from expansion boxes. Expansion launches are also a chance to try and get some press (you know, if you have marketing people). Raising the level cap in a free patch would be something else entirely, but I think it's far safer to presume that the next expansion hits this year for the time being.
P.S. Does anyone play on LOTRO's US Vilya server?