Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lotro: Cheating With the Cash Shop

Perhaps the most controversial items in the F2P Lotro Cash are the stat tomes which give permanent increases to of a characters base stats. For example  approximately €5 buys you a tome of Vitality which permanently increases your vitality by 10. You can purchase up to 5 ranks of each stat tome for a total of +50 to each stat (in Europe the limit is currently +30 soon to be lifted).  To put these numbers in perspective: 50 points of might would increase my Champions melee damage by about 3% and a piece of end game armour  typically gives a total increase of between 100 and 150 points spread across several stats. 50 points in any stat is not a game breaker but it does make a difference.

In theory the stat tomes drop in the game but the drop rate is extremely low and nobody seriously believes that farming them is realistic.  If you want the benefit of those extra stats you have to pony up the cash.

Since so much of an mmorpg players time is spent trying to earn infinitesimal upgrades to a character's basic abilities it does feel a bit like cheating to be able to buy this type of upgrade in the store. I personally would prefer if they weren't there.  The one mitigating factor is that Lotro has a fairly low cap on each stat (currently 650).  A character equipped in end game gear will probably hit that cap on their most important stats once they are buffed up for raids and instances.

My Champion  has his key stats of might and vitality over 600 un-buffed and any time I join a raid these are buffed up to the cap. Given this I had planned to ignore stat tomes completely but then Turbine / Codemasters sucker punched me with a 50% off deal on stat tomes. Sure I don't need those extra points but wouldn't it be nicer to  have them than not? What about your auxilliary stats like Fate and Will - currently languishing about 150. Sure these aren't very important for Champions but wouldn't it be nice to have a bit more power or a bit more in combat morale regeneration? Don't forget of course they will probably never be cheaper again.

I caved in a blew the bulk of the free points Codemasters gave me on a 20 point boost for each of my basic stats. At least I didn't spend any real cash yet but having seen how easily I can be suckered into buying something just because it is on sale I am now worried about what they will put on sale to tempt me next week.


Stabs said...

Are the stat tomes that drop bind on pickup or can you find them on the auction house?

mbp said...

Good question Stabs. The ones yo pick up in game are trade-able but the ones you buy in the store are not as far as I can tell. When I bought mine they activated the moment I placed the order.

Stabs said...

I object a lot less to something I could, theoretically, earn by playing. If I can max my stats by playing the day trader game or by being a top crafter or by grinding out a lot of cash doing quests then use that to get the stat books then it doesn't seem so invidious that you can buy them for cash.

I certainly think that cash shouldn't make you better than time could possibly make you.

mbp said...

I agree Stabs that the fact you can find or buy these in game is important. I also think that the fact that you don't need these tomes to max out your key stats is significant. Nevertheless it is a direction I would prefer the cash shop not to follow. Of course by caving in and buying the things I am voting against myself.

Anton said...

So you bought them? Well, there goes all hope now, haha!

I'm really more fond of the subsciption method...everyone on even ground, and no "advertising" in your face everywhere you go! I see in-game shops that use real money as advertisements.

mbp said...

Hi Anton. At least Lotro still has a subscription option which gives you access to everything you need to play the game for one flat monthly fee. That doesn't mean they won't still try to tempt extra cash from us with novelty items though.