The Turbine Double Dip: New Race & Forum Explosion

Over the past two weeks I’ve been spammed with news coming from Turbine Entertainment.  Topics have run the gauntlet of the company’s games, from Lord of the Rings Online to Asheron’s Call.  Yes, Asheron’s Call, the game that started the company off on the right foot way back in late 1999.  The title is still going strong despite its failed sequel, Asheron’s Call 2.  Strong enough to warrant further development.

The company announced today that the ten year-old game is going to receive a new playable race and some further features.  Asheron’s Call is not one of the MMOGs that I have ever followed, but it’s pretty cool so see the game getting some love this far out.  Not many details were revealed on the Shadow race, but Turbine did create a teaser video.  Perhaps the more astute Asheron’s Call players can fill us in on the hidden details and the potential impact?

Packed alongside the new race are a few other new features, including the addition of a new type of magic (Aetheria), multi-slot armor, Barbers and their ability to change hairstyles and tailoring.  Tailoring allows characters to move the look of armor from one piece to another, which sounds pretty cool.

Hit the jump for the announcement from Turbine that has the MMOG-friendly Internet in an uproar.
Many of you probably know that Dungeons & Dragons Online went free-to-play almost a year ago.  What you may not realize is that the subscription option still remains.  This makes DDO:EU one of the first successful MMO games to use the “hybrid” business model – subscription or F2P.  Options to customers are generally viewed as a good thing, but the company’s latest decision is downright bone-headed.

In an effort to offer players a different way to acquire DDO Points, as in not spending real money, Turbine Entertainment opened up the Offer Wall.  The Offer Wall will reward players DDO Points for completing things like registering for a newsletter, signing up for a subscription service, or buying a product.  It extends to mundane tasks like surveys and online focus groups as well.  Basically, you’re exchanging your time to some third-party company in return for some “free” money for your MMOG addiction.

The two key phrases there are ‘third-party’ and the quoted variety of free.  Let’s start with “free,” because it’s anything but.  Most of the population works in the capacity that time equals money.  You do something for a business or a person for X hours and are rewarded with Y dollars an hour.  That’s basically what Turbine is going to have you do for your DDO Points.  Instead of paying cold, hard cash, you’re giving your time to the company for DDO Points.  At a paying rate that is below what most high school style jobs would pay, no less.  Far from free, right?

The real issue is who “the company” is, because it’s not Turbine.  While Turbine will not share any player information with these other companies, many of the offers ask for very private information (phone numbers, addresses, etc).  Furthermore, Turbine offers zero support if there’s a discrepancy or issue when using the program.  Podcast listeners know I have an issue with privacy, but I see no problem with the idea – Turbine leveraging its massive playerbase to generate a third avenue of revenue by way of research – just its execution.  Turbine should not be farming out the job to some other company, and then taking zero responsibility.  There’s too much at stake, for the players and the developer alike.

Picture this:  Some child who really wants to play a max-level Warforged through all the adventure packs goes on a “offer” rampage.  In doing so, he destroys not only his own e-mail account, but that of his siblings and his parents, grandparents and any other person’s e-mail he could think of.  Add in their phones and snail mail addresses for additional gasping.

Believe me, people will do just that.  People, if you want free points, just come on our DDO dungeon-alongs and I’ll hand them out to you.  500 Points per run until supplies last.  No string attached (besides loving Lore Hound forever).

It’s no wonder that the forum post on the “deal” is exploding with horror stories.  And MyPoints has only been available for a single day.