"I really like our subscription matrix. People have compared it favorably or unfavorably to LOTRO...For reference, here is the LOTRO Matrix, and here is the EQ2X Matrix. What do we make of all this talk of Matrices?
I think they have some mechanisms in their matrix that look attractive at first glance but after people play it for awhile, they may realize it's not as attractive as they think it is. We've designed our matrix to be upfront as far as what the limitations are.
I think the biggest differences are in content. They lock a lot of content and make you pay for it as you go; we leave ours wide open. I'm not really sure why people are complaining, because the more I do an analysis of it, I can't see anything that's more restrictive about our matrix than a lot of people's, and in a lot of ways it seems less restrictive. You can play for 30 or 40 levels in the current game without feeling massively restricted. The stuff like spell tiers and legendary equipment, the people that griping about stuff like that are the experienced EQII players. "
- EQ2 Producer David Georgeson, in an interview with Massively
You see, Mister Georgeson, I was there when the strength of men failed, when Isildur... wait, sorry, wrong Hugo Weaving rant. Let me start again.
You see, Mis-ter Georgeson, the Matrix is a construct, created by marketing as a distraction from the true nature of these games; from the horrible truth that these "free to play" games are not actually free. /gasp
Behind the Matrix
The truth is that LOTRO F2P is effectively an option to pay as you go for content. You may or may not pay earlier and you may or may not pay more often. However, other than Monster Play (which cannot be free to play because there is only one PVMP zone), you can access everything in the game and people who are willing to pay will be able to access all the content they pay for "without feeling massively restricted".
By contrast, EQ2X is effectively an extended free trial. The one thing that has been non-negotiable from day one is that there will be restrictions that prevent players from reaching all of the content (including paid expansion content) that cannot be lifted without switching over to the subscription. Time and time again, EQ2X devs have stated clearly that allowing players to buy out all of the restrictions for one-time fees and then drop their subscriptions "doesn't seem like a good long-term business plan". Turbine apparently disagrees.
Finally, the argument that the EQ2X matrix is somehow "more upfront" about its limitations is outright disingenuous. By Georgeson's own admission, players will not "feel massively restricted" until they have played for "30 or 40 levels". Personally, I would have given him until level 68 (the start of the Kunark expansion, and the first solo quest and rep reward gear that non-subscribers cannot equip). Wherever the cutoff level is, EQ2X is designed to force players to subscribe at some point later on in the level progression.
You may pay less for EQ2X if you solo to 80 and then quit, but you will end up paying far more in the long term if you end up locked into the $15/monthly fee - a year of EQ2X subscription fees costs more than permanently unlocking all the content in LOTRO. Having the game conceal this reality for the first 40+ levels is actually the exact opposite of "more upfront".