I’ve always been a fan of the “freemium” business model, particularly in video games. I previously mentioned how Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online saw a 500% increase in revenue after switching to a free-plus-paid-extras approach. I play DDO a bit, and I really like the way it works. You can pay five dollars here and there for additional content packs, which you only have to buy once, instead of having $12-$15 siphoned off every month.
Now Turbine is going to see if they can replicate their success with another title: Lord of the Rings Online. It’s currently a subscription game, operating in much the same way as World of WarCraft with a $15 monthly subscription after you’ve already paid for a retail box or download.
It’s nice to see the more accessible freemium model gaining ground against the standard subscription route. It seems to work pretty well for both customers and the publishers. The question remains: will Blizzard give freemium a shot, what with their plateauing subscriptions? I’ve been hoping the MMORPG giant would give it a try for awhile.
The move to make Lord of the Rings Online free-to-play shows Warner Bros. is serious about making a big investment in the Lord of the Rings franchise, which some say may have peaked with the Peter Jackson movie trilogy. But Warner is betting that the interest in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fiction is everlasting. That’s why it gathered together all of the game rights from Turbine and Electronic Arts. Warner also owns the film rights now.