I thought I was done with MMOs. I had first started with Everquest after hearing my friends rave about this great new game. Over the years Jess and I played many Massively Multiplayer Online games and worked (or in Jess’s case, still work) for an MMO company! We enjoyed them all but eventually just decided that we didn’t have time enough to play to justify the monthly subscription costs of such games. There was also the annoyance of having to pick which server you played on and inevitably finding out you had friends on a different server after you had already built up a character on your own server and having your friends splintered across different games, much less servers.
We loved World of Warcraft. The only reason we quit playing was purely the money thing. We couldn’t play enough to justify paying $15 a month for each of us when we only ended up playing maybe once a week. We reluctantly decided that we were probably pretty much done with MMO games. Then Jess brings home two free issues of PC Gamer from work. They included free beta CDs for the new Lord of the Rings Online game. We figured, what the hell, play a couple of weeks of free beta in Middle Earth! Then I noticed that if you pre-ordered the game you got some special benefits. There were some cool items in game that you would get but there was also the special “Founder’s” pricing. Instead of the normal $15 a month per account you could either get $10 a month or the “Lifetime Subscription” for $199 per account. “Cool idea” I though, as I had bought a lifetime subscription on my TiVo Series 1 when I bought it (sadly they no longer offer lifetime subscriptions on new TiVos) and it had long ago paid for itself. I thought this was probably the smartest idea I’d seen in an MMO.
At first I didn’t even consider it. I mean, come on, $199 a piece plus the price of the game?That means it would cost damn near $500 for Jess and I to get 2 games and lifetime subscriptions. Absurd. Then the more we played and thought about it, the less absurd it seemed. We had played all those other MMOs where we had paid for the game and the monthly fees probably totaling much more than $500 over time. If we played this game for 20 months we’d break even and after that it was all profit! I know plenty of people who have been playing various MMOs for years and are still playing and paying. We would definitely get our use from this game and since we weren’t paying monthly we wouldn’t feel that pressure and guilt about not playing enough to justify a monthly cost. We could explore Middle Earth as often or as little as we liked for as long as the game exists. This could truly be the One Game to rule them all and judging from the fact that even some of the worst MMOs we’ve played are still going many years later, we have no doubt that LOTRO will have a long life.
So once again, we have been pulled into the world of online gaming. We’re playing on the Landroval server. Look us up if you visit Middle Earth. We’re both really impressed with the game too. It seems to have really learned from the evolution of MMOs and incorporated a lot of the best features and improvements over the years. It’s beautiful too. If you’re a fan of Middle Earth you will certainly geek out over being able to be a part of it, explore it, meet characters from the books and visit familiar locations. It has reawakened my enthusiasm for playing MMOs, which I thought was dead and buried. It still hasn’t overcome the problem of multiple game/server splintering (for example, I still have lots of friends playing WoW who don’t want to switch to a new game and after playing for 2 days we found out some friends of ours were playing too but on a different server so we started brand new characters from scratch so we could be on their server and join their “Kinship”) but overall we are excited about playing.
Just think of it like this: how much do you spend on going out to the movies or out to eat each week (or whatever)? Now if you could pay for two years up front and in return do that as much as you like for free for the rest of your life, wouldn’t that be a pretty good deal? What? Stop looking at us like that! We’re sensible dammit! If you really analyze this, we’re not crazy! It’s genius!