Article on the LOTRO.com homepage: http://www.lotro.com/news/709-announcing-the-lord-of-the-rings-onlines-move-to-free-to-play-
The free mmorpg genre comes to Lord of the Rings Online this fall. No credit card required. The game will be free to download, and free to play and all players will have access to the LOTRO store.
Existing payers will be upgraded to VIP (and unlimited access). Noticeable advantages for VIP versus Premium and Free players listed on the FAQ.
Is this a good thing? We all know that free to play isn’t really free since you get limited features/content for any status less than VIP players. Peer pressure, tons of promotions/events and other teasers may have you whipping out your wallet faster than you think. But if you’re fine with venturing into the LOTR world as a free player with its limitations, then of course this is a good thing!
The author for one believes this is a great move for LOTRO since it may topple WoW’s (subscriber-based) mmorpg domination. It may also create some spill-over from the mainstream mmorpg leaders like WoW, GW and LOTRO and expose potential players to other free mmos like Shaiya, LC or Kingdom Heroes, which have proven their own worth in the mmorpg genre in recent years.
Still, LOTRO – as a proven franchise of literature, media, and growing symbol of global online/offline popular culture – will still have to contend with satisfying its customers in-game. It will also be interesting to see how the loss in revenue from monthly subscriptions will affect LOTRO’s ability to effectively manage its operations while at the same time continue to crank out content and assess technical issues.