'Revenue triple' as Lord of the Rings turns free

Online game said to be buzzing with new players
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Online game said to be buzzing with new players

The Lord of the Rings Online MMO is making three times as much money since adopting a free-to-play subscription model, the game’s developer has claimed.

Massachusetts-based studio Turbine incorporated free-to-play subscriptions in its MMO series last year, though still offers two additional subscriptions – standard and premium – at a price. The game also sells in-game currency.

Executive producer Kate Paiz said the free availability of Lord of the Rings Online has helped boost the game’s online population and increased game world activity.

"We are super-pleased with how so many of our players have responded fantastically... the world feels alive and vibrant,” she told games site TenTonHammer.

"This really echoes a lot of what we've seen throughout the entertainment industry in general. It's really about letting players make their choices about how they play.”

The game industry’s experiment with the free-to-play model remains lively; Cryptic Studios will incorporate a freemium model in its MMO, Champions Online, and Realtime Worlds’ defunct crime-world game APB will return from a new company as a free-to-play offering.