I've been nerding it up since 1985 with the nintendo. I graduated to D&D in '88 and oddly enough around the same time my stock in girls plummeted. My first big gaming experience was playing Dragon Warrior for the first time on the NES and realizing that you don't always have to start over when playing a game. You can move ahead in increments, such a simple thing blew my mind. I didn't even know what an RPG was at that point I just knew I loved it.
Now most of my time is spent playing music and video games. I have played in a few very underground bands that released CDs on a couple different labels. Currently spending more time with games and taking a long break from music so that when I find it again, I can love it. Hedonism is my god, and I'm a level 33 enjoyer of stuff and what not.
Oh yeah, I LOVE TV. I know, Henry Rollins would be very disappointed in me, but I love TV series shows like True Blood, Futurama, Carnivale, Deadwood, Rome, The Pillars of the Earth and many others. I would state some bands but it will just seem like I'm trying too hard, which I already am, so I should quit while I'm behind...
When Turbine announced DDO had gone free to play of course I was skeptical. Skepticism is my default mode until proven otherwise. But I feel like they handled the situation very well. I purchased DDO at launch and played it on and off for a year or two. After a while I stopped subbing altogether because I couldn't justify paying 15$ per month to play it. And by the way, who decided EVERY MMO is worth 15$ a month?
So when I finally logged in and saw the work Turbine put into DDO I was impressed. I felt as though the "investment" I made purchasing the boxed game payed off slightly because of the features I ended up having that a new subscriber would not. Things like extra character slots, instead of the default two, I had four. And I had access to other content like certain adventure packs.
But when I looked at the LotRO free to play changes and compared being a new subscriber, premium player or "VIP", that's when I lost heart.
I had made LotRO my "home" for online gaming for a very long stretch. I would be what you might call a heavy investor. I like to look at buying MMOs like investing, because you never know what that 50$ box will get you down the road. If it was a game like Tabula Rasa, you end up with nothing. You can't pull the box out of your Tupperware bin 6 months from now and say "hey, I think I'll enjoy this game I paid for last year".
I feel like this is unacceptable.
When we buy a box, there should be something we can always do to play it even if I'm logging in to a home version of a server, kinda like Neverwinter Nights 2 allows you to do.
But don't get me wrong, I understand that it takes manpower and cash to keep servers running for people to log in and play, so we get charged a 15$ fee after our first "free" month. Were now basically 'renting' the right to play something we already payed for. I feel like it should be one or the other. If your going to sell me a game in a box for 50$ then I should own it. If you want to "RENT" me a game monthly, then I should be able to download that game when I make my first 15$ rental fee.
What do we own when we purchase a boxed game? A manual, plastic box and disk with art on it? Is the software a by-product? The water is muddy. I feel as though were in a grey area right now and the longer were here the greater the chance some of us will be taken advantage of, if not most.
So what does this all mean for LotRO? I have made huge financial investments for this game and now that 20$ stock price just dropped to 1.50. I bought the collector's ed. at launch for $60, I played straight for at least a year @15$ per month, I payed for both expansions, Mines of Moria/Siege of Mirkwood @ 20+30 dollars and after I slowed down and didn't play every month I still played at least 6-9 months out of every year. When I looked at the LotRO breakdown sheet and saw that they are parsing everything out like classes, the max amount of gold you can carry at any time and character slots per server, which I previously paid for, now they are gone as well, I feel ripped off.
I don't want this post to sound like a cry party. But I'm starting to feel like the gaming community in general is satisfied to pay for game content in any form it can be delivered. And DLC and MMOs are the major culprits. The more we vote with our wallets the more we will see charges adding up outside of the box we used to own.
It will be gone soon. I have already said goodbye to the good ol' days of buying the game and reading the manual while installing. I feel as though the best way to be protected is to sign up for a system like Steam or Impluse because if we are not going to own a box we buy, we may as well have some rights to our digital software via a company that might offer more protection than we previously had collecting our games that may no longer even work because of DRM.
But then again, what happens when steam ends? Everything ends, maybe not our lifetime, but at some point. It used to be so simple. I owned a Nintendo and gave it to my brother when I bought a Playstation. He was content to play Mario.
But more and more the boxes/games we buy are worth less and less, I don't mean capital value, only the ability to enjoy that software when we want. I don't have the answers, but I do know it's something we should all be thinking about.