Saturday, March 3, 2012

Long-Standing LOTRO Design Issue Fixed For Added Fee

Via Zubon at Kill Ten Rats comes word that Turbine is finally addressing its addiction to adding an endless number of alternate currency tokens which take up space in player bags.  The fix will be going directly to the game's cash store. 

State of the Token
The barter items remaining in my character's bank AFTER the change to rep items last fall.
Every world event, faction, and game system in Middle Earth has its own tokens, creating an assault on player bagspace that has been an ongoing issue in the game since its launch.  I was able to free up free up fourteen slots in my bank when tokens that are used solely for reputation were turned into instant consumables last year, but I still have eighteen slots' worth of barter items, event currencies, etc.  Many of these are bound to character and difficult to replace if I simply pitched them, as they are earned through daily quests or group dungeon runs.  It's also worth noting that I have yet to enter the current expansion content; I'm not aware of whether there are more tokens, but I'd be shocked if there aren't any. 

While LOTRO does offer various ways to increase your bank storage (both in-game and through the store), there's nothing you can do to increase the storage on your character once you have unlocked the premium bagslots (either by paying for the unlocks, or, more economically, by subscribing for a single month).  You can bank the things, with varying degrees of inconvenience in terms of proximity between banks and the relevant reward vendors, but there's no help for the tokens that you are currently acquiring from quests, dungeons, etc.

The solution
Details are incomplete, but the forum thread Zubon found says that the new system will allow all of the items to go into the existing barter wallet.  The posts say that the wallet is also going account-wide, which is marginally useful in terms of gear for alts, or perhaps funneling dungeon currency to a different character.  For comparison, EQ2's shared bank, which is free for subscribers and a one-time $5 fee for nonsubscribers, allows transfer of currencies (all of which are heirloom and can be stashed in a free currency tab) function at no additional charge.

In all fairness, this trend of implementing fixes for longstanding complaints about the game's features - including travel, inventory management, and grindy kill deeds - and putting them in the cash shop is not new.  The Turbine hybrid free to play model remains one of the friendliest in the industry when it comes to non-subscribers - I spend way less per time /played in Turbine's games than I do under any subscription model, even with the occasional quality of life purchase. 

That said, these kinds of "convenience" features would be included in the base game under pretty much every other company out there.  This one unlock will eat up the entire 1000 TP "bonus" included in Turbine's middle tier expansion packages for a $10-20 additional upsell fee.  For the game's subscribers (who I maintain pay more over the long run, given Turbine's expansion pricing strategy), the unlock consumes two months' worth of the stipend meant to offset the increasing number of cosmetic, consumable, and functional features that are going straight to the cash shop.  Like Zubon, promotions like this actively make me less excited to be a Turbine customer. 

1 comment:

Yeebo said...

As a lifer I could buy that right now for "free" if I felt like it. I a bit over 2000 TP currently on my account. However, I feel that your headline is pretty accurate. It's a basic design flaw I should not have to pay TP to correct, especially given that there is already a wallet for tokens.