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re: Subscribe or play for free?


The first thing I would like to emphasize is that, for those of you who are taking the Coursera course “Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative,” there is nothing in the in-game course assignments that require you to pay anything to play LOTRO. All game activity required by the course takes place in the Shire, Ered Luin, Bree and the Lone-Lands, and you have free access to all quests in these “starter” areas. You character can advance up to level 35 or so playing only in these areas.

However, most people that continue to play LOTRO regularly after their initial experience consider paying for certain additional features and benefits. This post will discuss the different type of LOTRO accounts that are currently available, and describe the major differences between those account types.


LOTRO Account Types

There are three types of LOTRO accounts: VIP, Premium and Free-to-play (F2P).

Subscription (VIP) accounts. You can pay cash to subscribe to LOTRO by the month, quarter, or year.  At present it costs $15/month to subscribe, though it’s cheaper per month if you subscribe for longer periods. You can subscribe or unsubscribe from your Turbine account page. A VIP account is one for which the player has an active subscription.

Premium accounts. If your have previously subscribed to LOTRO but your subscription has lapsed, or if you have made a cash purchase from the LOTRO store, your account is classified as a premium account.

Free to play accounts (F2P). Your account is an F2P account if it is not a VIP or Premium account.



What are the differences between accounts?

There are many distinctions between the three different account types, but here are perhaps the most important differences:

Turbine Points. VIP accounts are credited with 500 Turbine Points per month. Players with any account type can also buy additional Turbine Points at the LOTRO store. Turbine points, in turn, are used at the store to purchases various features, upgrades and other benefits.

It’s important to remember that the Turbine Points (TP) can either be purchased for cash, or earned by in-game activity (i.e., by doing deeds). So, essentially, you can trade money for time by buying the TP instead of earning them (or vice-versa).

Quests. Essentially, LOTRO is divided into regions with a package of quests and related adventures for each region. Quest packs for the starter regions (Ered Luin, The Shire, Bree and the Lone-Lands) are available free to all account types. Some region quest packs such as Moria, Isengard, Mirkwood,  Rohan and Helm’s Deep are not available to any account types unless those game expansions are purchased.

Other region quest packs (North Downs, Trollshaws, Evendim and others) are free to subscribers, but are only available to other players if they are purchased. Subscribers who let their subscription lapse no longer have access to this category of quests, and so would then need to purchase the quest packs for those regions (or resubscribe) to continue doing those quests.

While the bulk of the quests in LOTRO are in the various quest packs, there is also a sequence of epic story quests. The epic story quest sequence from Volume I, Book I to Volume III, Book IX (which starts in Bree and ends in Rohan) are available to all players regardless of account type, and regardless of which regions you need to go to in order to complete these quests. 

Here is a list of quest packs and their cost in Turbine Points. You can buy multiple game expansions  at once in the LOTRO quadpack.

Currency cap. Free players cannot have more than 2 gold in currency, and Premium players cannot have more than 5 gold. Any overflow is not lost, but you need to buy the currency cap removal from the LOTRO store to get that overflow into your in-game wallet so that you can use it.

Storage space. Subscribers get a total 100 inventory slots in five bags, free players get 60 inventory slots in three bags.  Subscribers also get some free storage space that can be shared among all characters on the account, and they also get some free wardrobe space that can be used to store cosmetic items.

Riding Trait. The Riding Trait gives a character the ability to ride a horse. Subscribers may do a quest when they reach level 20 that gives them the riding trait. Other players need to purchase the riding trait from the LOTRO Store using Turbine Points.

Swift Travel. Swift travel between stable-master locations is mostly restricted to the starter areas for free players. Subscribers have more swift travel routes available. 

See this post that goes into more detail about various travel options, and describes how the experience is different for free players and subscribers.

Characters per account. Be default, free accounts allow the player to create 2 character per account, premium players can create 3, and subscribers can create 5 characters per account (though all players can purchase extras character slots at the LOTRO store).Having more characters per account is useful since some benefits (like expansion regions) when purchased apply to all characters on an account.

Auction House. Only VIP and Premium players may list items for sale at the Auction House.

See this article  for a full list of the differences between the three account types.










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