Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Turbine doesn’t Want my Money

Longasc was so nice to give me detailed tips on how to continue my LotRO “career” over on Google+ following my last post. While I did (and still have) various reasons for not wanting to subscribe to the game, I eventually decided to do so on Saturday. I’ll be on holidays for two weeks starting next Saturday, but I thought the play time I could be getting this weekend would still be worth the subscription. Little did I know that Turbine doesn’t want my money and definitely doesn’t want me to play.

Subscribing to a modern MMO is easy. You log into your account, enter your payment details, and are done with it. If the company offering the MMO is up-to-snuff they offer a variety of payment options (such as PayPal), sometimes they offer just credit card payment. Turbine is one of the latter companies, but no matter – that’s what my credit card is for. Except they don’t accept it for some reason. It works fine elsewhere and I’ve used it to pay for LotRO back in the Codemasters days as well. Turbine though, they don’t like it. Their system won’t tell me what’s wrong with it either. Maybe I have my secondary address on file with the bank? Nope, that’s not it. Typos? Nope. Did my bank block my card? Nope, it works fine elsewhere.

Ah well, there is still the option of purchasing a game time card and applying the code through account management, let’s just do that. Hurray, I can even use PayPal for that – isn’t that modern? Purchasing the code was simple enough and soon I had one in my mailbox and went to apply it to my account. New regions and skirmishes, here I come. Or not. My code is valid and recognized but somehow their system repeatedly failed to apply it to my account with a cryptic error message. Some Google research revealed that this is a common issue when converting from a free (premium) account to a paying one. I have to contact customer support and they don’t work during weekends.

Wait, what? Your whole business model is based on hooking people on the game by giving it away for free and then getting them to purchase content or subscribe by denying access to all the interesting parts of the game. This system absolutely hinges on efficient account management. You have to allow your users to spend their money when they want to and not put barriers in the way of that which take days to resolve. When I finished the zone I was playing in, I wanted access to that new pay-walled zone immediately and not days later when my time for playing has passed.

Here are two tips for companies like turbine: One, have a working payment system ready to receive your customers’ money at all times. Two, weekends are when people are most interested in playing. Have some damn support staff available then, especially for account and payment issues.

In my case, I’ll give them until tonight to fix the issue. If they don’t, I’ll retract my PayPal payment and am pretty sure I won’t be trying to pay for LotRO again. It is not as if there aren’t alternatives out there and they are clearly not interested in me as a customer. If this seems unreasonable, consider that this is not a singular incident. This problem has apparently been around for months and Turbine simply didn’t care to fix it. That’s just bad business conduct.