Return of the... King?

November 8th, 2012

I tend to think that one of the main goals of a subscription-to-F2P conversion for a troubled MMORPG is not only to attract new players but recover players who cancelled their subscription. I think this is an especially valuable group for game developers because it is a group of people who have already demonstrated a willingness to pay for the game. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I think critically about the process of bringing old players back.

Here's an example of why that sort of critical thinking matters. I recently got back into LOTRO, mainly due to interest from my cousin-in-law who was a big LOTRO fan long before the F2P conversion. But before we could play together, we ran into a number of very significant hurdles.

First of all, he had to figure out what his account name, email, and login information was. Remembering all that after so many years can become nigh impossible, especially if you play lots of different games and obey the rule of having a unique password for each one.

Not that it helped him; once he managed to log in and update, he found himself banned. His account had been hacked and stripped during the period of inactivity. Getting it unbanned involved the intervention of Turbine support. Then, finally in the game, we faced the uncrossable hurdle...

We had our characters on different servers.

For a game like Rift, that would be a non-issue. Rift lets you transfer servers at will, without cost. Not so with LOTRO. Transfers means issuing a support request through a website, and each character transferred incurs a $25 fee. If I wanted to move my four over to join my cousin-in-law? $100. Not happening.

These events illustrate that there are more barriers to MMORPGs than just price, and while F2P is addresses the price barrier, other barriers to playing together with friends must be dealt with if games are going to be successful at attracting former players as well as new ones.

Posted by: Soulrift

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