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  1. #1
    Sapience is offline Former Community Manager & Harbinger of Soon
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    A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Hi everyone,

    We are very aware of the controversy surrounding the introduction of the new starter armor kits. We also understand why many of you are complaining. We’d like to take a moment to explain our rationale and provide some insight into how we have been approaching certain aspects of the game.

    Why do we do what we do?
    We love LOTRO and we love The Lord of the Rings. We here at Turbine and throughout WB revere the setting and strive every day to bring the amazing lands of Middle-earth to life for the largest possible audience. LOTRO enjoys tremendous support throughout Turbine and Warner Bros. and we are constantly working together to grow the game.

    This drive for ongoing commercial success generally works in everyone’s favor. The launch of LOTRO’s F2P version, for instance, multiplied monthly audiences and provided an increase in revenues which we will re-invest in the game. We’ve been ramping up for some time now and you’ll start to see more evidence of that re-investment this year in the form of major new content and game systems.

    In addition to new development, one of the benefits of our recent success with LOTRO is an increased investment in marketing and advertising. It’s not easy for current players to see, but the fact is that we get thousands of new players in LOTRO every single day. It’s that flow of new players that’s caused a difference in viewpoints between some of us at Turbine and some of you who play the game.

    Why Starter Armor?
    We monitor and report internally on many aspects of the game as we strive to tune the experience. Something that’s emerged over time is an increasing gap between low level and high level players. It’s an issue that many MMOs face as they reach maturity: With many players at or near cap, what happens to the game experience for those at lower levels?

    Those of you who have been with the game since the beginning know that we have used a number of methods to adjust the game in an effort to help new players join the main community at the cap more quickly including XP adjustments, content changes, and itemization updates.

    As part of our ongoing commitment to LOTRO we plan to continue to release meaningful expansions that add to the world on a regular basis. That commitment means that we are leaving some new players farther and farther behind the veteran community.

    One of the things the F2P model brings to the table is the concept of player choice and multiple paths to a satisfying play experience. The model offers us the ability to address the specific needs of a tightly targeted player group, instead of making sweeping changes to the game systems, or broader content, that would impact all players.

    We looked at progression and saw an analog to something we had witnessed before – in DDO. In that case we introduced low-level, but meaningful items into the game and saw that players who took that option progressed farther and stayed with the game longer. Based on this information and the trends from in-game, it seemed like the right time to try something similar for LOTRO.

    In considering how to implement this decision, a simple choice needed to be made: Should we offer a piece of armor that was good for a set level range with the tradeoff that it may be a significant boost at the bottom of that level range or should we design a piece that was underpowered at the top of its range? To be safe, we erred on the side of being too generous in value, thinking that few could fault us for doing so.

    Clearly, we got that wrong.

    Stop me if it hurts… How about now?
    To say that we were unprepared for the feedback we got would be inaccurate. We certainly expected the introduction of a new type of item to the store to drive discussion – some of it passionate. That said, the magnitude and tenor of the conversation was unexpected.

    So, in no particular order, let’s address some of the things that have been said over the past few days:

    • Turbine said that they would never sell gear in the store.

    If we did, we apologize. We give a lot of interviews and talk to lots of people at tradeshows. Our official line is and has been that we don’t sell end-game gear. Could somebody have shaved that line in discussions with the press or had their quote summarized into a statement they didn’t intend? Absolutely. We’re not perfect. We’ve been very consistent with one message since announcing our move to F2P: We don’t sell end game gear, but we may introduce starter items or packs in the future like DDO. We’ve tried to be as open and straightforward as we can on this and other points.


    • Patience said convenience, not advantage.

    Very true. It’s one of our guiding principles. Some people have time, others have money and when players are willing to trade money for time we usually consider that a convenience. Our goal is to allow players to customize their play experience to deliver as much fun per hour of play as they want without impacting the play of others.


    • What’s not a convenience?

    Anything that’s compulsory to be competitive in ranked play or achieves something by degrading another player’s experience. We have not and will not make that part of our F2P offering.



    • WB has taken over Turbine and turned them into corporate [INSERT EXPLETIVE HERE]

    WB did indeed buy Turbine, but they have largely left the game studio alone. We now have more resources to put into LOTRO and a much nicer office, but otherwise much is as it was. Specifically, there is no-one outside of the walls of Turbine HQ who had any say in the release of these items or any aspect of our MTX catalog. This was our call and ours alone, so point the blame cannons right over here please.


    • The items can be sold for Gold!

    True. They can. As mentioned above, we were worried about these armors not having a high enough perceived value so we added the ability to vendor them to get some of the value back at the end of their useful life. As some commented at the beginning, gear changes and you level beyond it. We assigned a value to these items specifically because we recognized this issue. Furthermore, we actively tracked auction house prices in game to help set these values.


    • Won’t the gold unbalance the economy?

    Our data makes it pretty clear that the vast majority of veteran players have as much gold as they need already. For lower level players, the value should be clear in relation to the armor kit, as stated above. If we start seeing lots of kits going to high level players who do nefarious things with their purchased gold, we will consider the implications and adjust accordingly.


    • It’s a slippery slope. Next thing you know end game armor & weapons will be for sale in the store!

    We’ve gone through a lot of changes in the past year but one thing we can still say is we’re all passionate about LOTRO, too. We don’t want to wreck it either. We want everybody to have as much fun as possible, but we don’t want to do it by breaking the game. Anybody who’s participated in an end of beta event with us knows how fun an unbalanced game can be – but it can’t last. We’re all travelling to Mt. Doom with you and nobody wants the trip cut short, so please trust us on this. To make it perfectly clear:
    We will not sell end-game gear.

    Now, we have released these starter items and some low-level players have purchased and continue to purchase them. We will monitor progression through the low levels over the coming weeks and will see if these items are having the desired effect. In the meantime we certainly heard the concerns about the power-level of the items and their silver value and are already reviewing how to adjust going forward. The items may stay or they may go. They may also be changed to better serve the needs of the game. We’ll know more in a few weeks.

    That brings us to our final point: communication.

    We’ll take this as a sign that we need to do a better job in clear and open communication. In the future we will take more time to explain why - not just what we’re doing.

    Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion. As always we appreciate your passion and will continue to listen to your feedback.

  2. #2
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thank you for this Hopefully this will settle some peoples nerves.
    I hope we hear a lot more in future.
    Last edited by Galuhad; Jan 24 2012 at 07:20 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Wow, just wow. This is definitely something alot of people needed to hear. Thank you Sapience! More where that came from! (the post, not the actual armors in the store)

  4. #4

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    There is nothing wrong with this at all. The higher the level cap gets the harder it is for newer players. I've personally spoke with several new players after recently rolling a new character and they get very frustraited with the lack of EVERYTHING at low lvs. There are not enough players, there isn't enough low lv gear in the AH and of course there was no Turbine support for these players.

    I'm pleased to see this and hope in the future you guys will expand on this by adding much much more to low lv chacater packages.

    Some stuff I would like to see:
    -Insta cap PvP chacacters-With base line gear and class traits. *Like you guys did in SoA beta.
    If players want to pvp like creeps can, allow them to do so.

    -Higher lv gear packages. These packages should at least get us to Moria. I'm comfertable with players getting a faster lving, better gear up to lv 50 IF they want it and IF they want to pay for it.

    -Better class trait, virtue and legendary support in the store. Just buying a Virtue doesn't work for me personally. They are too expensive. But I do like the scrolls, it allows me to work at them while still feeling rewarded at the end, just happens faster. I would like to see Legendary page scrolls where they drop faster. When you hit lv 40 and buy all your books it can seem a bit daunting at times.

    -New character lvs. I dont want to play a new class through the Shire anymore-When can I buy a lv 50 toon with TP? I dont care how much it costs, I've played the game for a while now and I just want to get to endgame. But I dont have the time to lv a new character through 75 lvs. I could handle 25 though.



    Again-There is nothing wrong with these types of features in the store. If we as a game and we as a community are losing new players because of the lack of low lv support, its a big shame and Turbine would fail as a company to not try and find a way to retain these players.

  5. #5
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Not impressed nor persuaded.

    Perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but the basic thrust of it seems to be: We [Turbine] do these things for a reason, and you long-term guys just don't get it, and besides you really aren't our focus anymore anyway.


    As for the whole "If we did, we apologize" in response to selling gear in the store, I'd be more persuaded if you had clarified your position at any point over the last year or so as people discussed it.


    Oh, and one other point. You stated that F2P "multiplied monthly audiences and provided an increase in revenues which we will re-invest in the game." [emphasis mine]. Do I take that to mean that you haven't re-invested these increased F2P revenues up to this point? That would explain a lot about ROI...
    Last edited by Defense1977; Jan 24 2012 at 07:23 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thank you for explaining this.

    I just have a couple of questions though:

    If you had already decided to err on the side of being too generous with the stats, why did you say at the start of the other thread that there was better gear available in-game? (Obviously the statement is literally true, level 75 gear is better, but making the statement implies there is better gear available in-game on-level.)

    If the availability of low-level gear was a problem, why not add more places to get it in-game rather than adding it to the store when it was pretty clear that a lot of players would be upset by this?
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  7. #7
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to the community concerns.

    In terms of not selling statted gear there have been a huge number of ways this has been circumvented already (top teir relics, high end stat tomes etc).

    However, it's very reassuring that we have a definative "We will not sell end game gear" post as while the journey getting to level cap in lotro is highly enjoyable, the best part of this game in my opinion is grouping with other people at level cap to gear out and have fun (and hence keeps people playing and the game alive).
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  8. #8

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapience View Post
    Hi everyone,
    We will not sell end-game gear.
    I'm aware that armour is gear but isnt end game relics, potions and maybe even stats tome "end- game gear"?
    I mean as tools we use to improve our end-game characters?

    For me, the Store is already selling end-game gear for a long time. Guess most players became concerned now that in future store will sell ALL the end-game gear and that those who dont buy it would have to play through an endless grind.
    Last edited by Erusen; Jan 24 2012 at 07:40 PM.
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  9. #9
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    what about first ages drop from loot boxes for which key can be bought in store? thats not end game weapons for sale? But Im not 100% sure if they drop for real, but I heard many people were talking about it.

  10. #10

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thanks for the official reply.

    Unfortunately all your answers will NOT make me return to the game. I am not sorry about that.

    All the offical answers are basically bogus, spin doctored to make "us dumb players" feel better now that we have "some answers". Won't work for me.

    If you want me and my 3 subs and my friends to return, here's what I would have to see In Game:

    1. Renewed/Improved and Competitive Recipes for all crafters. Each one as good or BETTER than the store.

    2. "Turbine's Compulsory" and "My Compulsory" definitions are different.

    Anything that requires access to a Store Item to open/use/unlock/enable/remove/add/delete ANYTHING in game MUST be IN the game and not unreasonably accessable thru In Game means. Grinding 1,000,000 wargs for a Relic Removal Scroll is un-reasonable. Downing the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur 100 times hard mode with no deaths is un-reasonable. Find some "happy" medium. I can do 10 quests for tokens to get my scroll or 10 skirmishes to get points. Not 100 or 1000 or In The Store Only.

    I will accept your assertion that you will not sell raid or high level gear at face value. This much I can grant you. But for the rest the above 2 items MUST be in place before I return.

    I will monitor this thread now to see what ADDITIONAL items Turbine will commit too. But until I see it In Game - No More Money For You.
    Last edited by SabrielofLorien; Jan 24 2012 at 07:48 PM. Reason: fixed phrase: compulsory
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  11. #11

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thank you for a very well-written and clear letter. I appreciate that it addresses the concerns that have arisen in the community, and on the whole, for me at least, it largely answers them. I especially appreciate your sharing the analysis that those players who do purchase lower level items stay with the game longer. In many cases, only Turbine has the actual data as to what players actually do, what percentage of the player base they represent, and how it impacts their long-term commitment to the game. The absence of that data, players speculate quite a bit and develop strong opinions based on their own experience, which may or may not reflect the larger trends. Information like what you shared helps us be more accurate in our perceptions.

    I do hope that you will be much more up front and open about the issues that concern players, the realities Turbine sees, and Turbine's reasoning for their solutions for decisions like this and for others, whether it be class changes, instance bugs or housing.
    A Vote for Sapience is still a vote for progress!

  12. #12
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thanks for a good response. Much useful information and food for thought.
    TANSTAAFL

  13. #13
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapience View Post

    • Patience said convenience, not advantage.

    Very true. It’s one of our guiding principles. Some people have time, others have money and when players are willing to trade money for time we usually consider that a convenience. Our goal is to allow players to customize their play experience to deliver as much fun per hour of play as they want without impacting the play of others.


    • What’s not a convenience?

    Anything that’s compulsory to be competitive in ranked play or achieves something by degrading another player’s experience. We have not and will not make that part of our F2P offering.
    Uh huh. So what's the word on store-exclusive pots/relics, stat tomes, and damage reduction scrolls? How is that NOT advantage?

    I've asked this question several times over the past year or so and never received an official answer.

  14. #14
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapience View Post

    That brings us to our final point: communication.

    We’ll take this as a sign that we need to do a better job in clear and open communication. In the future we will take more time to explain why - not just what we’re doing.

    This is a good starting point.

  15. #15
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thank you Sapience. Lets tick these off shall we...

    1. Turbine don't listen
    2. Turbine don't communicate
    3. Turbine don't care
    4. Turbine will sell end game gear

    I'm sure there are others but that'll do for now, and hopefully we can get back to some meaningful discourse about the future of LoTRO now. Speaking of which, how's that 2012 roadmap coming?
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  16. #16
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    As one who was pretty vocal about all this it's good that Turbine has actually come and said something, and I'm fairly happy with whats been said. For me the armors themselves weren't an issue (possibility of raid armor at end game was) but the other store evils like stat tomes, store boost pots and the irksome relic removal scroll. As someone mentioned earlier the sale of store only relics and stat tomes are largely about end game already but I think and hope what is meant by end game gear is jewellery/armour/weapons. Fair enough, I say. of course this means that as the level caps go up sales of previous lvl cap raid gear is possible? I kinda hope not but whatever, it won't bother me.
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  17. #17
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapience View Post
    That brings us to our final point: communication.

    We’ll take this as a sign that we need to do a better job in clear and open communication. In the future we will take more time to explain why - not just what we’re doing.
    Excellent. Does that mean you'd be willing to provide a similarly detailed account of Turbine's actions and or plans regarding PvMP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sapience View Post

    WB has taken over Turbine and turned them into corporate [INSERT EXPLETIVE HERE]
    I laughed. I do admire your sense of humor.
    Last edited by Arvaen; Jan 24 2012 at 07:48 PM.
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  18. #18
    Sapience is offline Former Community Manager & Harbinger of Soon
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Killien View Post
    Speaking of which, how's that 2012 roadmap coming?
    Coming along quite nicely. We'll have things to share in the very near future.

  19. #19
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    thats a first step towards us, your comunity...

    just few notes tho...

    sellin shop only runes, which are better than stuff available ingame, as much as stat tomes, is already advantage, as manies the players have stated elsewhere... so if ya wanne provide different options, fair play to ya, fine with that, but make the things available via gameplay too... achievable in a realistic way... no heretic grindin, lock yaself in ya room thing...

    thousands of new players every day... really? the european server i play on, has about 1000 players online prime time...
    i ve been to the startin areas recently an i wasnt burried underneath masses of low level toons tbh...

    but nevermind, fact is, all the trouble has reached yous sumhow an that is satisfyin indeed...

    if we, as players, complain about changes or bugs, most of us relax after an official statement, but if we dont hear anythin on our concerns, yes, we re getn nervous... if content is promised, it has to come the promised way (pvp revamp, new area )

    thanks so far... i see sum light beyond the clouds...
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  20. #20
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Ok so selling end-game gear is sorted.

    Now can we hear your arguments for store exclusive relics and tomes?
    Farewell.

  21. #21

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Thanks for the reply, it is greatly appreciated and goes a long way to alleviated some concerns.

    We still don't trust you though. The trust is going to have to be earned back over the long haul.
    "For them to perceive the advantage of defeating the enemy, they must also have their rewards." ~Sun Tzu

  22. #22

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Sorry to be a negative Nancy here in an otherwise positive thread, but this just reads like a lot of lip service to me, followed up with but we are going to do as we please anyway. It feels like a desperate reaction to try and save face with the public at this point.

    The fact is the armor is no the problem, it's that Turbine broke a promise to the player base. You can Bold and underline lots of words on a forum; but it seems all it takes to undo them is to say well we misspoke.


    Short of removing advantages from the store, I don't think anything can be done to save face with me.



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    Last edited by Anisson; Jan 24 2012 at 08:02 PM.
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  23. #23
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    Quote Originally Posted by Arvaen View Post
    Excellent. Does that mean you'd be willing to provide a similarly detailed account of Turbine's actions and or plans regarding PvMP?
    revampin, well, reanimatin the moors will b a difficult cause... after they re pretty much vast acres of dust atm... the pvp only players who have left, wont come back... so its about how to motivate those ,who had hardly been there before... server cluster? maybe? rewards an finally a rankin system that grants advantage? i hear the pve crowds protest... i fear its a little late to save the pvp content, alas its sad, i know quite manies the interested gamers... a good first step would b to make the moors all available for f2p...
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  24. #24

    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    + rep here for the honesty and openess


    we don't mean to whine honest

  25. #25
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    Re: A word about the new gear offerings in the LOTRO Store

    I'll repeat what I said it that other thread, because it got lost in the 80 pages of it.

    Selling low-level gear in the Store barely affects the gameplay if at all. Except for crafting, low-level crafters do have their right to b**ch about it. What is bad was introducing the principle itself, which is hated with passion by many players of various online games - from Korean MMOs to the kriffing Farmville.

    Let's say a new player donwloads and tries LOTRO. As soon as he's done with Intro he sees several pop-ups leading to the Store (and no, we don't really need more of those). He lurks around and sees that they sell gear in there. At that point he'll either say "There, saw that before in that other game, where you can't do squat without buying gear from money" and leave right away, recognize he doesn't have TP for it and keep playing (wise choice) or usher his card and buy "the best armor he could have!" Only in less than a week he will realize that armor gets replaced constantly and his money were essentially wasted. When I got to level 35 I realized how naive I have been, running around Bree Auction House, wasting all my silver on Sapphire shards so that people could craft me the best available armor. If that money was real, I would be a lot less happy about it.

    Or let's say an experienced gamer wants to try LOTRO and asks his friends. They tell him Store sells Stat Tomes, LI legacies and Finesse scrolls - he has no idea what it is. But they tell him Store sells armor and he forms a picture in his head and doesn't feel like trying anymore, because he knows where that goes from other games where, again, without buying gear you can't do squat.

    Regardless the existing players canceling the subs and leaving... well, you saw the number in that other thread. It was last straw for those people, and frankly, if not for that, they would get pissed enough over some next thing. But the matter is, people don't want to get associated with the "Games that sell gear" stigma. DDO and LOTRO both proved that F2P model isn't a bad thing on itself, but selling gear is that negative sign that many - MANY - will interpret as inevitable slide into the path where you MUST pay money to advance in content. That may not be the case - but that's how they perceive it.

    What you can do? Best thing is to remove armor from Store, leaving it in game data and awarding it through lotteries or maybe even gift boxes.

    Next best thing is to apologize (thanks for doing that) and do not add gear of higher Tiers and better stats. Let bought armor last into 30-ies and 40-ies and you'll have people running in that armor not for a week, but many months. Don't do that - folks will not like it AT ALL.

    Or if you really want to fix low-level gear issue, add something valuable to those gear vendors existing in every major city up until Moria: currently the stuff they sell is never-ever-ever worth using anyway.

    To compensate for removing armor, here are some other things you can ADD in Store, to which almost no-one will complain, trust me. And no, I won't post that in suggestion forum - read this thread if you want them.

    1) Remove housing upkeep. Pay TP once, never spend gold on upkeep again. Should function only for personal houses, not Kinship ones.

    2) Festival skills purchasable. You know about the "forced emotes" negative feedback, let people buy skills with TP if they really want them to bypass grind.

    3) Cosmetic pets akin to Lore-Master ones. I know you talked about those last year, but we never saw them at live. I never saw any LMs running around in 21st Hall or Galtrev with cats, dogs or frogs - yet many other classes would love to RP with them. Let any class buy a "Summon cosmetic cat (or frog. or squrrel)" from Store.

    4) Last, but not least: Content. Yes, that thing we all actually want to see. Design a new skirmish and sell it in a Store. Make a new region with dozens of quests and deeds and sell that quest pack in Store. Add a mini-cluster of 3 instances and sell that in the Store. Then see if anybody will complain about that AT ALL.

 

 
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