Lord of the Rings Online to go free-to-play in the fall

This isn't ebook news, but I have a reason for bringing this up. Bear with me.

Time Warner has announced that LotRO will drop the subscription charge with the major upgrade coming in the fall. Here is how GameBeat described it:

The move is another validation of the free-to-play business model, where gamers can play for free and pay real money for virtual goods such as better weapons or decorative gear for their game characters. The business model has been popular in Asia but only recently took off in the U.S. This move shows the pressure is building on game publishers to shift to the new business model or face declining audiences.

I wanted to mention this story because of the business model they're going to use. This is an example of Freemium system (where you give away a basic service or product, and then sell a premium version). I'm going to bring it up in later posts, and I wanted to gather together in one place a bunch of examples of freemium.

The word dates from 2006, but the model dates back a lot further. Are you familiar with Baen Books and the Baen Free Library? They give away some ebooks in the hopes that you will buy more. That's a freemium model, and it's been working for Baen since 2003.

I found an even older example: shareware games. Id Games was using the freemium model as far back as the mid '80s. They'd give away 1 chapter of a game, and then sell you the other 2 chapters. Again, that's a freemium model.

About Nate Hoffelder (11789 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

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