A Casual Stroll to Mordor had a great post yesterday with some suggestions on how to improve the LotRO Store, and I agree with pretty much everything. Especially the part about the buttons to the Store appearing everywhere.
But, for me, this is just one part of a problem that is increasingly frustrating – Turbine constantly badgering me with options I have no chance of taking. I’m a Lifetime Subscriber – I’m a VIP for as long as they keep the servers up and running.
You can’t tell me that Turbine doesn’t know exactly who I am every time I log in. They know everything about me as it relates to LotRO, and probably a little more. How hard is it to alter the loading splash screens to display content appropriate to the type of player? I’m a Lifer, which means I’m already a VIP – don’t show me advertisements for VIP status. I own Moria and Mirkwood, which means I already have access to the Runekeeper and Warden – don’t show me advertisements for purchasing access to classes I already “own”. I help design and run systems like this for a living (it’s called Business Intelligence), so I have a fairly good idea of what’s possible; Turbine, if you don’t have people to do this – call me, I’ve been known to freelance.
What’s not going to work in the long term is the constant barrage of reminders, the inundation and utter carpet bombing of every moment we spend in-game with the “upsell” that the Store has become. Nothing breaks immersion, and especially my enjoyment of the game, quite like the all-too-frequent, “<Ding> You’ve earned a nickel! Why don’t you go spend some money in our Store! PLEASE GO TO THE STORE. NOW!” Save all that for the Free Players.
The Store is not The Game, no matter how much upper management would like it to be. (Wouldn’t they just love it if we threw money into the Store and then simply went away? Alas, that particular scenario is not meant to be.) Our characters are The Game. The world is The Game. The Story is The Game.
Listen, Turbine, we get it. The Store is how you make money. It takes money to run MMOs and the Store is your income. But no matter how hard you try to sell us on the Store, LotRO will not reach the same level of success that DDO accomplished with it’s move to free-to-play. What’s happening, at least for me, is that every time I have the Store shoved in my face, the wedge driving me away from LotRO gets a little bigger.
Trust me, I want to give you my money, as I’m sure many of us do. I love LotRO. And in many ways, you’ve earned it; if Isengard is half as good as I hope it will be, I will buy more points to afford it instead of saving up my monthly stipend. For me, it’s another expansion, and I’m accustomed to paying for expansions. But if I have to wade through reminders and billboards for the Store every time I log in, guess what? I’m going to stop logging in; that’s a real loss for both of us.