So ten days ago Turbine announced that the Riders of Rohan expansion launch was to be delayed by a month and a half. There was naturally disappointment among some player and a degree of relief among the beta testers. They had already determined that the new content was not yet ready and conceded the practical necessity in postponing its release. However what did shock me were the amount of people who blithely smiled and thanked Turbine, like they had done everyone a great favour. I found such platitudes rather embarrassing. Here we had customers who had paid up front, thanking the suppliers for failing to meet their pre-arranged schedule. Why were they not irate and demanding some sort of compensation? Oh I know that Turbine are offering some points as a sweetener, but it really is derisory.
Then the penny dropped. Because the LOTRO player base has been messed around so many times since the game went F2P, that many of the most vocal players have either given up complaining or simply moved on. They have either taken a temporary sabbatical or jumped ships to pastures new altogether. The only people who are left are those stoic, die hard fans who will tolerate pretty much anything due to their love of the franchise. Furthermore Turbine has got wise to the fact that they have a captive audience and are pretty much able to act with impunity. You can easily think of a lot of metaphors to describe the dynamics of this business relationship, but most would be inappropriate and possibly even distasteful. Its a sorry state of affairs.
Twelve or eighteen months ago, a major delay of this nature would have been proceeded by a shit storm of epic proportions. Blog posts, podcast and twitter would have been filled with heated debates. The official LOTRO forums would be deleting posts and redacting comments like a police state on a bad day and the unofficial forums would be awash in a sea of bile and recriminations. This time round it would appear that annoyance peaked at tutting and the odd shake of the head. It’s another clear sign that the LOTRO blogging community is in a state of flux. If you don’t believe me, go check out the last months posts on the LOTRO Combo blog, then cross reference them with that of a year ago. It seems no one wants to fight any more. Turbine get to win by default and people just accept it. This is bad for all parties concerned.
When Riders of Rohan finally gets released, we will hopefully see an initial influx of returning players. This could then lead to a resurgence of LOTRO related content in the blogosphere. It is important that this happens, as a game that is being discussed must surely be in good shape? As Oscar Wilde said “there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. Fan boy eulogies and trolling rants at least show that there are people out there that give a damn. The sombre acceptance of the delay to the Riders of Rohan, could be a milestone in LOTRO’s lifespan and not necessarily a good one. As for the surviving hardcore of dedicated LOTRO players who seem to endure everything that Turbine throws at them, their tolerance is both their greatest asset and their Achilles heel. Stop being so nice. Really. It’s for your own good.