(UPDATED) Proposed LotRO Changes Bring Out Pay-To-Win Accusations
But currency earnings from the cash shop are dwarfed by other means of acquisition.
"Something that used to be available in the game will now only be available from the shop" is guaranteed to bring out the cries of "pay to win." That's just what Standing Stone Games is hearing, after a description of changes coming in The Lord of the Rings Online's Update 32 was posted to the forums yesterday afternoon. As is often the case with P2W talk, however, the situation isn't entirely cut-and-dry.
The key information is that Embers of Enchantment, which are a currency that can be used to purchase max-level (but not best-in-slot) gear, can currently be salvaged from other gear that you can obtain in instances that you have no other use for. When Update 32 goes live, the only gear that can be salvaged for Embers "will come from Adventurer's (level cap) Lootboxes." In other words, the only way to get Ember-salvageable loot will be from the cash shop.
Caveat: Yes, it is possible to earn Lootboxes through gameplay. Your experience of how much you can earn, and at what frequency, may vary. Suffice it to say that most Lootboxes are probably obtained via the shop, or at least that's SSG's intent.
So once Update 32 hits the servers, does that mean Embers, and the gear you can get with them, will only be available via the cash shop? Not so much. According to a response to a post on Reddit decrying the changes, Embers earned from lootboxes "can range from 100 to 400 at the moment." Embers from in-game drop-salvaged gear are "100-200" from a 30-minute instance.
Meanwhile, you currently get 500 Embers per weekly quest you complete. There are four of them total, with one being significantly harder than the others. The poster says that this will change to 1,500 Embers per weekly, meaning that you'll be able to earn 4,500 Embers per week fairly easily -- 6,000 if you do the "hard" weekly" -- and there's an additional 1,000 you can get via crafting. That's 5,500 to 7,000 Embers per week, depending on how much effort you want to put in, which is a lot more than the few hundred you get per lootbox purchase or even from in-game drops.
Do the proposed changes make the Ember model pay-to-win? Maybe it moves the needle on the P2W-o-meter (which I just invented) forward a bit -- and as I said at the start, any change announced in this fashion is going to bring out the torches and pitchforks -- but if the Reddit comment is correct in its assessment, it's not too egregious. Then again, "not too egregriously pay-to-win" is usually how "totally pay-to-win" starts.
UPDATE: It seems that game developers themselves still need to work on the notion that saying "Something that used to be available in the game will now only be available from the shop" is not a good idea. Standing Stone Games has announced that due to "extensive feedback" from players, it will put the plans to change currencies "on hold for now." "If we do end up moving in a new direction regarding Embers, Figments, and Motes of Enchantment in the future we will make sure to incorporate as much of your feedback as we can."
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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