Interview: Clarifying LOTRO Customer Support for F2P Players
Answered by Bevan Davies, Community Liaison Officer at Codemasters
We’re all very excited about Lord of the Rings Online going Free to Play. Our loyal readership has known for a while now that “F2P is the way to go” so it’s great to see another triple A title join the ranks! To our surprise though we had to report yesterday that Codemasters would not be offering full Customer Support to F2P players.
Today we have the opportunity to ask Bevan Davies, Community Liaison Officer at Codemasters, some questions to clarify the situation. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this with us Bevan.
OnRPG: You clarified to us yesterday that free to play players would still receive support for account and technical issues could you give us some examples of these?
Bevan: It is obviously very important to us that all players (whether free or paying) are able to play the game. As a result, we provide our players with a range of support including account creation, game access issues and technical support for downloading, installation and execution of the client.
OnRPG: What type of issues will a player need to use the self-service online system for and how does this function?
Bevan: The self-service system is our Knowledge Base, providing information on known issues and ways to resolve these issues without the need for a Game Master or Customer Support Representative. At this time it is only available through the website but we are working on a solution that will enable this to be viewed from within the game to help all our players see this valuable information and offer help where possible. It's important to remember that ALL players will get support with out of game issues such as technical support and account issues.
OnRPG: As a follow up: what redundancies are there to ensure that people don’t get stuck with problems that are unresolvable by themselves?
Bevan: Players can always fall back on the tried and tested method of posting on the forums. We have a very active and friendly community here who will always endeavor to help other players with their problems. Along with this, the community team regularly read the forums and work with players to ensure players get the best experience possible out of the game.
OnRPG: As you’ve previously mentioned f2p players are a vital part of any gaming community, how will you address the view which may form that they are being treated as second class citizens of middle earth?
Bevan: The Lord of the Rings Online™ isn’t your typical Free to Play game, it uses a hybrid model which offers a range of ways to play. You can choose to either play for free or pay a standard monthly subscription. Whilst some players may not have access to all content, this doesn’t alter how important they are to us and the continued growth of the game. We will always treat each of our players equally when dealing with them.
OnRPG: What was the motivation behind this tiered level of support?
Bevan: We offer a very high level of support to all of our community- usually answering support tickets within a matter of minutes.
In order to maintain this high level of support, we now provide a solution that reduces the number of tickets we receive in order to assist players in fixing some issues by themselves as many of the petitions we receive are answered within our Knowledge Base and we also have a substantial FAQ that players can consult for other queries relating to the game.
If over time we feel the need to broaden the range of support we offer we can easily amend the systems to do this, and we will always look to provide the highest quality support to our players.
OnRPG: We’re glad that we got that cleared up. The internet is abuzz about LOTRO being F2P now and lots of people seem very eager to try it now for the first time, are you guys ready and eager to welcome a big flood of new players?
Bevan: With the successful launch of LOTRO Free to Play in Europe on the 2nd November, we’ve seen a significant increase in players on our servers and have opened up two additional worlds in order to meet this increasing demand. Not only that, but within the frist 48 hours of launch we had already broken our all-time peak concurrent users record!
In preparation for launch, we have gradually been upgrading our hardware and systems to support this influx of new and returning players. We have additional capacity on all our existing worlds to accommodate new players and there are several new worlds waiting in the wings should we see a need to turn them on.
In the build up to launch, we also ran a Preview Event where current players were invited to try out the new Free to Play service update and help us stress test the new code on our environment. These tests, thanks to the thousands of players who helped us, managed to exceed all of our expectations. The combination of our upgraded hardware and the new game code mean that we can now handle more players than ever on a single world, increasing our capacity even further than we initially thought was possible.
In summary, this leaves us in a very strong position moving forward to deal with an increase in players now that we have gone Free to Play!
OnRPG: Is there anything you would like the say to the OnRPG community that we haven’t asked you about yet?
The Lord of the Rings Online™ over the last three years has been one of the most successful subscription MMOs on the market, providing players with a detailed, immersive and fun experience of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
Now that we are now Free to Play, LOTRO has been opened up to a whole new audience and we hope that everyone takes this opportunity to download the game, log in and join Frodo, Aragorn and the others on their great adventure.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to discuss this with us Bevan, and all the best to you and the team on getting LOTRO to new heights as an F2P title!