Another day, another F2P controversy.
Syp has engaged in the debate concerning a $50 hobby horse mount being introduced to LOTRO. Turbine went to the unusual lengths of asking for targeted feedback whilst demanding that this excludes all derision.
The general consensus on the forums is that:
1) It looks rubbish
2) It breaks immersion
3) It’s the first step down a slippery slope
4) It’s too expensive anyway
I have sympathy for the LOTRO players, whose F2P bliss is repeatedly intruded on by the developers, eager to monetize the heavens out of them.
However I have to question whether the idea of the horse is worse than the reality. Let’s assume for a second that the horse successfully makes it through to the live game, whilst retaining its high price point*.
It is going to be very rare.
Consider for a second the common belief (?) that the majority of players in a F2P game pay nothing. I have no evidence for LOTRO, but it could be less than 10% than spend any money on the game.
Now let’s assume that, of those 10% that spend money, the majority of them agree with points (1) and (4) above. So that’s 5% of the 10% that would buy it – or 0.5% of the total playerbase.
If we assume that the players that DO have them, do not keep them activated for 100% of the time. Either due to points (1) and (2) or for fear of the general stigma brought about by the item’s introduction of the game.
The net result is that you are very, very rarely going to see the hobby horse. There are a million other immersion-ruining aspects (#1 – other players’ behavior) that will impact your enjoyment of LOTRO more than the horse.
In this sense, I find this similar to the tree in the forest philosophical dilemma.
Players’ rage is not directed at the actual horse (which they will rarely encounter) but the idea of the horse and what it represents.
*Something that I doubt. A 50% reduction would be a PR win for the developers, whilst the community feels like they won.
I think people love these kinds of topics that have a pseudo-ethical or moral dimension. In a way, the developers are acting like trolls, stirring up a discussion with a needless provocation.
In League of Legends, each champion can be bought for 7-8 euros and premium skins could go for as twice that, with Ezraels full theme costing about 5 times that.
Yet, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a discussion about the pricing on Ezrael’s theme.
Because it’s the business as usual. Players have gotten used to the idea that custom skins cost real money and the more elaborate (and recent) the artwork, the more it will cost.
I’m sure RIOT can get 2000 pages on the forum tomorrow if they announce a trivial, but unexpected change. A change that goes against the current division of premium/free.