Turbine made a curious statement yesterday, to the effect that details of next weeks LOTRO stores sales were not being posted on the official webpage. If you want to know what items are being discounted then you have to log in to the game and manually go to the store. At first glance this is a somewhat innocuous change but so far the post on the official forums has already attracted four pages of replies. It would seem that this move has not been well received. Some players with multiple alts will have to make multiple searches because class specific items will only be displayed to that class. Others have simply criticized the poor loading and performance of the web store app itself. I will leave it to readers to decide if these complaints are legitimate.
Now fan-site Casual Stroll to Mordor regularly covers LOTRO store sales, so when the information wasn’t forthcoming as usual, Goldenstar and Ketani decided to research the matter themselves and post a list of discounted items. As usual the community was suitably grateful as a respected third party took up the slack. However, both the initial decision by Turbine to pursue this course of action and CSTM’s subsequent “good deed” both raise some interesting questions.
Turbine may have tried this experiment to simply get more people to visit the store. They see it as an increased chance of a potential purchase. It’s a standard ploy used in most retail industries. Make the customer come inside the store, or ask a member of staff for information and the odds of a sale go up. However, by publishing a list of items that are on special, CSTM is in some respects working against that policy. An informed customer has less requirement to log into the store and the chance of a impromptu purchase is therefore reduced.
The situation is a curious one. First of all, I see what CSTM is doing as a public service and they are under no obligation to do otherwise. Yet they are theoretically invalidating what Turbine is trying to achieve but that is not their problem in any way, shape or form. I also think that this is one of many store based experiments that we can expect to see from Turbine this year. It should be noted that they have not categorically stated that all future store sales will not be advertised on the official website. The statement merely said “For the week of January 11th – January 17th we’re formatting our Store Sales page differently than normal” and nothing more.