LoN Loot Cards Cause Concern

The announcement that the latest Legends of Norrath expansion, Travelers, would include a loot card for EQ and EQII that will give an in-game quest for access to a limited zone caused quite a stir. Alan "Brenlo" Crosby, EQII Senior Producer and Christie "Kiara" Renzetti, EQII Community Manager, were quick to try and assuage everyone's fears that this heralded the beginnings of "Pay to Play" content above and beyond subscriptions, but the overwhelming question has been "what's the loot like?"

Well, the expansion launched yesterday and the loot has been seen. The loot card itself seems to be quite rare. One player reports having spent $200 on LoN cards thus far and not gotten the key. But it's out there, and the reports on the zone and loot are starting to trickle in.

Seems a lot of players are unhappy. Some are heralding the beginning of the end as the loot from the EQII zone is comparable to higher-end x2 raid loot. Others feel that the zone is a rip-off, being a copy of the last room of Obelisk of Ahkzul with four nameds and a boss, and it requires a group. Still others feel the loot is Legendary junk and not worth all the hype. Over at EQ2Wire, Feldon feels this precedent legitimizes the purchase of gear with real money, and is concerned that the slippery RMT slope so many players worried about with the introduction of Live Gamer servers, LoN, and Station Cash has indeed become significantly steeper.

I think there are a couple of important questions here, and your answer may depend on your playstyle:

In the overall scheme, is this particular loot game-breaking? No. It's a bit advantageous for people who play LoN and their friends, but all by itself this particular loot is not a detriment to the game. You can't gear out your character completely with this zone, and most of the gear will be abandoned by the hard core raider, although solo players like me might hang on to it for a while.

Is this type of LoN loot a precedent, or a one-shot experiment? When asked this at the October 8 Developer Chat, Alan Crosby responded, "Well we are not sure. We will see what the reaction is like once it is in people’s hands and they understand what it actually IS rather than the conjecture. It is for the moment an experiment."

How far will SOE take it? Players are whipping out John Smedley quotes on RMT and theorizing on What It All Means. Is Feldon right, and we will one day (if so inclined) be able to power-level and gear our characters via credit card? How much content should our subscription pay for? Will we one day see the Free Realms model (free with purchased bonus content) come to Norrath?

It does seem that things, they are a-changing.  How far is SOE and the MMO industry willing to take the grand RMT experiement?  Will we see the pay models for older games changing?  At what point, if ever, will it become detrimental to the game population?  I don't know, and the answers that players would find satisfying probably aren't forth coming.  I think the game is not dead (nor dying), and that for now, I'm content to continue to wait and see what happens before I throw in my subscription.

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LoN Cards
# Oct 16 2009 at 1:01 PM Rating: Decent
As long as there are people that will spend $200 on LoN cards, then SOE will keep doing it, and will probably expand it... since $200 is significantly more than what we (hopefully) will be paying for the next expansion.

Edited, Oct 16th 2009 6:24pm by Moonlightmist
Ugh
# Oct 16 2009 at 3:10 AM Rating: Decent
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I hope that the games never go too far with it. If SOE wants more money opportunities, why not do it legitimately? I don't get why they don't, from time to time, offer mini game updates that cost small dollars, but have real gains for players of all kinds. For example, offer a mini expansion to the game for like $5-10, something many would buy, that could be something akin to a city. It would be both really easy to make and potentially a lot of fun for players. That city could have various instanced content for groups and raids of players for all levels. Offer some decent quests that can be accomplished mainly in the city (or at least with rewards in the city), some interesting, new -- but not completely game-changing -- spells, etc. that can be had only in the city. Offer some other purely cosmetic things that players like, too, that are certainly not game changing and mainly the kind of vanity items often seen in micro-transactions that can only be had in the city - a way for players to get some new hair color, or grow a few inches taller, switch deities, tradeskill recipes and items, places to buy (with plat, of course) new kinds of potions or enchantments to insert on items, etc.

SOE and other MMO companies could do a couple of those kinds of mini expansions in a year and it wouldn't piss off players like when SOE used to really rush out the expansions in EQ, when they were doing about 2 a year. It would help players of all kinds... and it would offer something far more tangible and excusable (and maybe even *desired*) to players than pure microtransactions where players are basically buying items, etc. I can understand a company's desires to make these games profitable -- players want them to be profitable too, so they keep them updated and fun -- but the profits have to come from something tangible that doesn't cheapen the game and is completely related to the game itself, not a side online card game.

Edited, Oct 16th 2009 5:14am by Ryepower
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