LotR: Online announces “Founders Program” for people who pre-order.

World of Warcraft is undeniably the 800 pound gorilla of the MMORPG genre right now boasting some 8 million subscribers (more people than many countries’ populations) and sporting the fastest selling expansion of all time (TBC sold 2.4 million copies in its first 24 hours in North America and Europe). It leaves you wondering what other companies can possibly do to compete.

Electronic Arts and Turbine entertainment think they have a winner with their upcoming The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar offering, but they’re not resting on their laurels hoping that having the Tolkien universe alone will be enough to bring gamers running to the game. They’ve decided to sweeten the pot for players who pre-order the game:

This exciting Founder’s Program rewards all players who pre-order The Lord of the Rings Online with special $9.99 monthly subscription pricing, early access to the game (beta version), character roll-over and unique in-game bonus items. Players can become a Founder by pre-ordering the title at www.lotro.com/preorder or at retail stores nationwide beginning February 1, 2007. This limited-time offer is exclusively available to pre-order customers.

As far as I know they’ve not yet announced what the monthly cost for LotR:SoA will be so the possibility of having your monthly pricing set in stone at $9.99 a month may or may not be a great deal. If the monthly pricing ends up being $15.99, which is what WoW’s monthly charge happens to be, then pre-order is definitely worth it if you end up liking the game. There’s also some other benefits such as a ring of agility and a cloak of regeneration, but it’s hard to say how valuable those really are as you could end up replacing them within a couple of hours of adventuring. Not mentioned in the press blurb above, however, is the option to do a single $199 lifetime payment—pay once and play as much as you want. Now that could definitely be worthwhile if you end up liking the game, not so much if you don’t. Consider that at $15.99 a month for WoW you’ll spend (and I have spent) around $191.88 a year for continuing access to the game. I’ve been playing WoW for about two years now, off and on, so had they offered something similar it would’ve paid for itself by now.

Of course the big question is: Is the game any good? Sure it’s got what is probably the ultimate fantasy license for a setting, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good. I’ve not been following the game as closely as I once was so I have no idea what the answer to that question happens to be, but I may get a chance to find out this weekend. I signed up for the beta awhile back and then promptly forgot about it and was never invited anyway, but the other day I did get an invitation to download the client and participate in a three day stress test this weekend. That should be enough time to get a feel for how the game will play and what it’ll offer so I think I’ll invest the time in downloading the huge client just to see what there is to see.

More later after I’ve poked around a bit…

8 thoughts on “LotR: Online announces “Founders Program” for people who pre-order.

  1. I can’t get into specifics about the game since there is a pretty strict NDA, but I will say that I was back to playing WoW exclusively since BC hit.  It’s fun being a hobbit and running around Middle Earth, but there just isn’t anything that grabs me and says I must play this game, especially being a regular WoW player.  I just don’t have the time smile

  2. Turbine, also made the D&D online game, which also had a founders program for those who pre-ordered the game. The package you described above sounds identical to the one offered for D&D online, except the two items where different.
    At any rate I particepated in that pre-order package and continued to play it for about 3-4 months after it was released as live. I also ended up going back to my favorite MMORPG, Dark Age of Camelot. However, some of my friends who continued to play D&D online tell me that since its release, it has received royal treatment, receiving update after update fixing both bugs and vastly adding to the exisisting game. They tell me that D&D online in now an amazing game.

    Thinking back I do recall, the game still feeling like it was still very beta even after 3-4 months of playing it. As though they had developed it just enough to get players on it and then hash out the rest later.

  3. I think that’s pretty common with most MMORPGs these days. I remember a lot of people complaining that WoW should still be considered beta when it was released. I suppose with the massive development time it takes to build an MMORPG there comes a point when you have to get it out there and start making a little money if you hope to have any chance to finish it.

    grin

  4. I think it’s par for the course for games to be pushed out of the door and have the customers pay for the privilege of field-testing them. As long as the game publishers stay committed to fixing critical and annoying bugs…

    I would expect MMORPGs to require substantioal tweaking during all of their life-time. Balancing game play in response to munchkins gaming the system, so to speak, and preventing cheats to keep their customer happy, on top of whatever bugs crop up, it can be a busy time.

  5. I think that’s pretty common with most MMORPGs these days. I remember a lot of people complaining that WoW should still be considered beta when it was released.

    I didn’t play WoW until late 2005, but I mostly recall hearing complaints about lack of server capacity back when it first came out.

  6. Correction. Midway is the publisher for LOTRO:SoA (in the US; in Europe it’s Codemasters). EA has nothing to do with the game. They had the license for Middle Earth Online, but decided to scrap the project before it really got off the ground. Just clarifying. Two different companies, two different publishers. Just don’t want people hating on the game thinking it’s from EA. It’s actually pretty cool. I’ve had the priviledge of trying it. Turbine is the developer, though, so that’s right. smile

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