LOTRO launches a free-to-play model

by: Tina -
More On: Lord of the Rings Online
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment made two announcements today for Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online. First, LOTRO will now be free-to-play up to level 50, with the LOTRO Store open for players to purchase expansions, quest packs, items, and account services as they desire. While previously the game ran under a premium subscription, they are now adopting the same free-to-play model as has proven successful with Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited.

In addition to this new incentive to pick up the MMO, the game is also receiving an update complete with an entirely new region: Enedwaith. Volume III is effectively updated with Book 2: The Ride of the Grey Company. As the title might suggest, your quests in this update entail joining the forces of the Grey Company in Rivendell to explore the new region in 15 solo-able chapters.

The Harvest Festival also makes a return, with this year’s special event located in a haunted hobbit fun-house: the new Haunted Burrow. In a matter of housekeeping, the update also brings a few other features and tweaks including a new storage system, an updated character creation system, and a “classic” feature for instances that allows for repeatable, scalable content. Read on to learn more, and be sure to check out the new screens and TV commercial (which releases during Family Guy on Sunday the 12th on FOX) below. It’s clever - if not obvious - but I think the intensity in Gandalf’s famous line wasn’t up to par. Check below to see what you think. 

BURBANK, CA – September 10, 2010 – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online™ (LOTRO) is now free-to-play for players across North America. Launching today, players can now download LOTRO at www.lotro.com and join with millions of other adventurers as they explore the most complete and authentic recreation of Middle-earth ever created and participate in LOTRO’s award-winning story up to level 50 for free. Players can also choose to visit the new LOTRO Store to purchase expansions, quest packs, items, and account services a la carte, or join the VIP program that provides unlimited access to the game for one low monthly price.

This major update will also extend the game’s epic story and expand the world of Middle-earth with the new region of Enedwaith while continuing to deliver state-of-the-art graphics and gameplay, as well as a rich set of features that until now could only be found in premium subscription-based online games.

“We are continuing to expand the market by offering LOTRO free-to-play and providing players with a choice in how they experience premium online entertainment,” said Martin Tremblay, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “Today’s launch allows gamers to play one of the world’s best online games completely free while letting core LOTRO fans dive deeper into the game as they choose.”

“Turbine’s innovative pricing model, first introduced last year with Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, has become a proven success with over two new million registrations since going free-to-play,” said Kate Paiz, Executive Producer of LOTRO. “We expect LOTRO’s free-to-play launch will only continue to increase the player base and catapult the game to new heights of success.”

Highlights of the latest update to LOTRO include:

Ø Volume III, Book 2: The Ride of the Grey Company -- Having sworn to protect the heirs of Isildur, the Dúnedain responded with all haste to the urgent message from Elrond. Players will join the newly-formed Grey Company in Rivendell as they depart on their journey far from the relative safety of that hidden valley into the new region of Enedwaith. Book 2 consists of fifteen solo-able chapters full of exploration, exciting combat and a healthy dose of mystery.

Ø The LOTRO Store is Now Open for Business! -- The LOTRO Store is loaded with thousands of convenience items as well as expansion packs, premium content, additional character slots, potions, character customization and more. The LOTRO Store is seamlessly integrated into the game and lets the player identify new and exciting ways to enhance and customize their experience, using Turbine Points which can be purchased in the Store or earned through gameplay.

Ø The Return of the Harvest Festival -- When the days shorten and the nights begin to cool, it’s time to celebrate the bounty of the harvest. All the races of Middle-earth celebrate this time and gather at the Bree festival grounds for the Harvestmath events that include bobbing for apples, pumpkin picking and much more. This year’s festival features a brand new event located in the new Haunted Burrow, a haunted hobbit Fun-house!

Ø And Much More! – This latest update also introduces the Wardrobe, a new storage system for cosmetic items that’s available for free to VIP players or can be purchased a la carte from the LOTRO Store, an updated character creation system, a revamped new player experience, the update and addition of “classic” instances featuring repeatable, scalable content, and much more!

The Lord of the Rings Online is the ultimate adventure. This award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game delivers an interactive experience brimming with life and filled with the familiar people, places and monsters from the most famous fantasy of all time. From the picturesque surroundings of the Shire to Moria, the most fearsome underground realm ever imagined, players will experience the world of Middle-earth for free! For more information, visit www.lotro.com.

About Turbine
Turbine, Inc. is a premier creator and operator of massive, persistent online worlds that foster powerful social gaming communities. Turbine is wholly owned by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and has created some of the world’s most popular and award-winning online games, including The Lord of the Rings Online™, Dungeons & Dragons Online®: Eberron Unlimited™, and Asheron's Call®. For more information on Turbine, its products and services please visit www.turbine.com. 
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