Lord of the Rings Online to go free-to-play

Warner Bros. is to make its recently acquired flagship MMO game free to play this fall, beta to start June 16.


Massively multiplayer online role-playing game Lord of the Rings Online is to go free-to-play, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Codemasters announced today. This will make LOTRO Warner Bros.' second free-to-play MMO game, after the successful switch away from a subscription model for Dungeons & Dragons Online last year.

No word on whether WBIE plans to charge extra for torches.
No word on whether WBIE plans to charge extra for torches.

Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar was released to critical acclaim in 2007, with expansions following in 2008 and 2009. Subscriptions to play currently cost up to $15 a month. The game will be free to play, but a new online LOTRO store will allow players to purchase "expansions, quest packs, items, and account services a la carte," according to Warner Bros. As with DDO, players will also be able to buy a VIP package, which gives players access to all of the premium features for one price--though the price itself was not revealed.

The project will be among the first overseen by Jeff Junge, WBIE's newly appointed senior vice president of online games and digital games platforms. Junge was given responsibility for the firm's entire digital games business in May. Codemasters will continue to publish the title in Europe alongside DDO, which it also publishes in the region.

LOTRO is developed by Turbine, which WBIE acquired in April to consolidate its control of the Lord of the Rings gaming licences. The acquisition followed Warner's reacquisition of non-MMO game rights to the franchise in March 2009. LOTRO was originally published by the now-defunct Midway Games.

The move will see LOTRO and its expansions disappear from store shelves, as all the distribution will be done through the new LOTRO online store. WBIE has said that the free-to-play version of the MMO game will be available to play at the Electronic Entertainment Expo later this month.

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Avatar image for Megamanx266

@Phazon-King 1) That's ONLY IF you can get into the Beta. 2) No guarantee that you get to keep those since normally that happens so you can test the store. Sadly players who don't get into the beta wont get free Turbine Points. My argument still stands!

Avatar image for Phazon-King

@Megamanx266 Actually, you can if you get into the beta... They give you 5k turbine points to be able to enjoy some premium objects and bonuses.

Avatar image for burn6

I had no chance to check this MMO, free subs have level cap limit? or what are the limitations?

Avatar image for lonewolf1196

can i still buy a copy of the game from amazon once it`s free to play and off store shelves?

Avatar image for NerdusMaximus

I'm very glad that this is happening. I loved playing LOTRO, but as a high school student the $10 a month was getting too expensive for the relatively little time I was playing it. Once it is free to play again, I hope I'll be able to come back and play it again.

Avatar image for Megamanx266

@zaku101 You must tell me how you can get extra character slots and the "premium" classes in DDO without paying. Oh you can't? Thought so.

Avatar image for marc5477

@ColdfireTrilogy Without arguing symantecs too much, I believe that the definition of MMO, specifically the combination of MM requires that a lot of people play together at the same time otherwise it would have no distinction between MMO and MO. The reason we have the MMO acronym is because we needed to make a distinction between games like Civilizations or Starcraft vs games that had 1000 people interacting in game in the same environment at the same time. I dont believe I ever made an argument that MMO's had to be RPG's. Chess, Diablo and GW are MO's, but not MMO's by definition. I believe that most definitions you will find will agree with me on this one.

Avatar image for TheUnknownM

in lotro why does it say beta? its going to be a new beta server?

Avatar image for ColdfireTrilogy

@marc5477 a chess game with a large lobby system could and should be considered an MMO, its just not an RPG. If there are 110 thousand chess players in one lobby and you can play any one of them at one time ... i would 100% conclude that is MASSIVELY multiplayer .... there just isn't a roleplaying aspect in the game. In both Diablo 2 and guildwars there is both an MMO element and an RPG element. No where in MMO does it say (excluding instanced zones). MMO(EIZ)? Its a generic acronym for a reason.

Avatar image for DiscGuru101

Cool. Now CoH/CoV need to go free to play next...

Avatar image for Evilnator

not gonna touch if it it;s the same system as RS.

Avatar image for nitsud_19

Hmm, I got an email saying I was going to be a VIP member. Whatever the cost I'll pay, this is a great MMO and will soon have many more people playing it.

Avatar image for TheUnknownM

my favorite mmorpg is free yay high five (lotr team) :)

Avatar image for green_dominator

I love the films but I'd never play an online only game that could possibly be watered down, I really don't know because I haven't played it but judging from the history of the games I'm taking a guess....

Avatar image for MW2GhoST

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for oo7superdave

I have been playing lotro for a few years know and thoroughly enjoy it. I have played wow, guild wars and a little aion, but didn't like them as much as lotro. They are all good games and i am not saying one is better than the other (that is an opinion and up to the one playing), but if you enjoy the movies and the books you need to take advantage of the free to play opportunity. I can be a bit slow at first but the game gets increasingly more immersive as the story progresses. Also check lotro.com for all the information on the free to play option. I pretty sure it is a limited portion of the game and the purchases of upgrades will be needed to get the full experience. I is a real fun game and with the opportunity to try the game for free there is no reason not to try it for yourself

Avatar image for daveversion1

I have been thinking about playing this for a long time now. Well now i'll have too!

Avatar image for jodudeit

Might have to try this one now.

Avatar image for HarrymanGR

Yay! at freakin' last, join the club of bankruptcy! And for those who hate f2p mmo's (which i don't get) let hem know that money matters more to companies that actual game quality, and since NORMAL people who wanna pay for a mmo rpg game try WoW and they there, the company has to find a attractive feat for their game, which in that case (i think) would be a f2p mmo to a certain level at least (as with DDO) and/or cash shop. Please DO keep in mind that the second most frequently played game is an mmo, and the company is as filthy rich as blizzard.

Avatar image for mtl68170

LOTR is one of most immersive and fun MMO's I have played in all my gaming years. Moria was one of the best expansion packs ever. Whatever it takes to get people that normally wouldnt play to play, Im all for it. Let them work out the books. It would truly be a crying shame to see LOTR go under because of low player base. It is way too good of a game to deserve that fate.

Avatar image for eeeyyyooo1

I think the real reason Lotro is going ftp is because of Warner Brothers, Turbine tired it with DDo and it worked very well and then they wanted to make Lotro ftp but don't have the cash that Warner Brothers has so the they decided to let Warner Brothers buy the company and make it ftp! Good ideal in my book soon we will go to watche a Warner Brothers movie and see a lotro ftp ad.

Avatar image for Pirikato

@Oblenator Gotta agree with you, my 1st thought was " Where have i seen this before...... oh right.... runescape " And, for the few time i played runescape, i hated the non membership restrictions. It would be a disgrace if LoTRo turned into runescape

Avatar image for gladosrev2

Excellent move, long awaited by me, glad to see the new director sees things my way. After playing LOTRO for almost 3 years it really started feeling like it needs to go free, at least the starter areas, to revitalize it all. F2P is the future of MMO gaming, it is a no-brainer to see. Those who b***ch only fail to see they can still play as usual, they can simply continue paying and be VIP with a lot of bonuses like buying expansion packs for free points they will get simply by subscribing. On the the other hand this will open the gates for thousands of less wealthy players, or casual players who won't spare 15$ for a few hours monthly, who have a right to enjoy Middle-earth too. It appears as if the model Turbine is planning is not a P2W one and is just right, but we will see once it's out.

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002

If it's free then I'm in. I played a 14 day trial with a friend of mine and we enjoyed it very much. Back then we had LOTR fever and we just finished watching the Extended Trilogy and I discovered the Encyclopedia of Arda which fueled my vices. I found it pretty fun that you had to name your characters according to the language of the race, it took me a long time to figure out a cool name that used the vocabulary of the desired race. This game is all about immersion, to me LOTR is a much richer and fuller world than any other MMO can deliver.

Avatar image for prohogo2

It won't be F2P, It will be like a demo with tons of restrictions. P2P or you won't be having fun. That is the whole idea of this system.

Avatar image for YankeeDan345

@isahunt U just dont fully understand what an MMO is. It's not like your paying 15 a month to play halo. An MMO is like a hobby, you can clock in hundreds of hours at it. I played WoW for a year and it was well worth the 180 dollars.

Avatar image for juxtapose519

Whenever these MMOs go free-to-play, it always means it's the beginning of the end. The player base is obviously shrinking and they need a way to keep people playing, but it never really helps. Another MMO bites the dust.

Avatar image for AceCometh

I played the beta for LotRO when it first was being developed. I jokingly refered to it as World of Warcraft: Middle Earth Crusade. It was so similar to WoW that I didn't bother getting the full version, despite my love of the Lord of the Rings franchise (books, movies etc...).

Avatar image for Oblenator

For some reason when I saw the part about VIP I instantly thought "What, like Runescape?"

Avatar image for Cloud310

This is a great move in my eyes, just like Guild Wars. The game is free to play and offers extra content at a small price plus expansions through a store in game menu.

Avatar image for Pirikato

The negative part of this almost takes the joy outta the positive part :/

Avatar image for Chief_Kuuni

that's cool, I might have to try it when it's free since I already have it downloaded because I have DDO

Avatar image for mattybs

I like it, and to those woried about being charged extra for content, life time members and subscription players (aka VIP) have everything they have now + all free content that comes out will be there. The free players will only get imited access and will be the ones that have to pay for quest pack when they have finished the 1st three zones, they are limited to 2 gold no pvmp limited chat, and alot more limitations, it gives them a taist of things to come.

Avatar image for brandonhatton

Over f2p games will start loseing amount of players, The name of the game sort of makes you wanne give it a try. For example some body makes a game based on Harry potter it f2p, So people enjoyed the movie so the movie gets there ,Attention . And becuase it based from a movie . It will be great. PS I applyed for the beta today I probley will get in the second day they announced it .

Avatar image for RE3_UBCS

lol so many people getting happy...its already been confirmed they are going to charge you for all quests outside the starter areas that aren't main storyline quests =\ Expanions aren't free either, for Free its capped at 50. Also the character is limited to having only 1 or 2 Traits (passive-like abilities), compared to 5 for Subbed players. Good luck not trying to spend money on unlocking all of this =\

Avatar image for Olsenz

I did the beta too. I was still playing WoW at the time and I didn't like the action much. I might check it out. I sometimes play DandD f2p. But I am mostly casual player now. F2P can work for a casual player like me, but a hardcore, or even just below hardcore it doesn't work out.

Avatar image for Jedilink109

OOOOOoo!!!!! Free to play sounds awesome. :D Now if only they'd do that for Matrix Online too. :P

Avatar image for Pete5506

I was in the beta for this game, and it was sorta fun, might have to give it a go again

Avatar image for Evilnator

Well.. I'll wait a bit.. AoC is probbably next to go F2P. And i wont play WoW, even if it goes F2P.

Avatar image for Targzissian

I played it for a month. Fun playing as a hobbit and as a chicken. But watch out for wolves and spiders! Ultimately, I left because the leveling aspect forced you to play in a very linear way, in spite of the game being effectively an open-world type game. I like exploring, not being forced to stay in a particular area until I've done everything the game designers want me to do there.

Avatar image for Strider_91

Wow, bold move.. Should work out for the better it's a great game.. I'm a WoW player but i've tried the demo, and might switch over.. :o

Avatar image for finshur

WAY TO GO Warner Bros.. I really liked LOTRO, will be the latest expasion with free play now!! Good job!

Avatar image for Lord_Greatness

With this turning into a free-to-play MMO it will turn out either good or very bad.

Avatar image for blank3k

I'm shocked by the amount of people that downed my last post, surely people cant be falling for "F2P" models? Its a known fact, F2P games a massive amount more to enjoy & become recognised in, paying monthly works its usually about £6-8 per month, most other F2P layouts cost £10 per week, if you really get addicted the skys the limit, £250/month is the highest ive heard of so far on a "free" MMO. F2P works when you play for an hour now and then when you have nothing to do, but any real gamer wants the best weapons, armor, mounts & general access to everything - at a good few quid each, and updated regularly with new/better. And even WoW is dipping its toes into the "item market place" with there recent purchasable $25 mount that earn't them $2.5m/hour over the first day.

Avatar image for RussianRAGE

Oh man! LOTRO might end up stealing some WoW base. But thats unimportant. Anyone remember when this game was coming out and they were offering that 200$, pay us now and play forever deal? HA! Now its free.

Avatar image for digga1990

Now its free i'll try it out. If i like it, i will most likely buy the "extra" "premium" features. All MMO's should do this :/

Avatar image for Gabe447

I think i just shat myself :O

Avatar image for EchoEcho

@PublicNuisance -- Not really. There are still MASSIVE benefits for being a paid subscriber to the game over the free service, and Lifetime accounts will still maintain all the benefits. I'm a Lifetime subscriber, and I don't regret it at all even in light of this development. My worry is more about how the new Turbine Store for microtransaction goodies is going to effect the in-game economy. Being able to purchase healing pots, etc. on the fly, without having to make a trip to the auction house, could really screw over people who make their living selling such things on the AH.