Tag Archives: Turbine Points

LOTRO Welcome Back Event, Though You Could Have Come Back at Any Time

And just because we do not have enough choices facing us this weekend, what with the Rift open beta going, the EverQuest progression servers hitting their first (and only free) weekend, the World of Tanks open beta still humming along, and all the other games we’re playing along the way, Turbine has a Lord of the Rings Online welcome back event planned for this coming weekend.

Heck, it starts today!

Come back to Jamaica... I mean The Shire!

But the idea of a LOTRO welcome back event kind of confused me at first, since LOTRO is free to play and all, so you’re welcome to come back any old time you please.  The door is always open, come on in.  If you want anything to eat, either contribute to the food fund (subscribe) or use the vending machine. (Which only takes Turbine Tokens, but you can change in some money for that over in the den.)

But I guess they can still play the “Bonus Experience” card when they need to.

Welcome Back to LOTRO!

The Lord of the Rings Online™ Welcome Back Event, running February 17-21, 2011, gives every character a +10% XP Bonus from defeated enemies! This is a great chance to get back in the game and see what’s new, and to get a preview of our next major update!

You do not need to have a subscription to participate in the LOTRO Welcome Back Event. All you have to do is log into the game and start playing.

Need a copy of the LOTRO game client? Click here to get started for FREE!

Oh, and a preview of something that you may or may not be the right level to view.

They also point out what has changed since you may have last played.  The key item for most people on the free plan is that The Lone Lands quest pack is now available at no cost.  That is quite a meaty zone that will get most players to at least 30 and leave them with a pocket full of Turbine Points.

As usual, I have too much to do and not enough time.

(hat tip to A Casual Stroll to Mordor who watches Turbine like a hawk.)

What is the Tax Burden on 100,000 Turbine Points?

I have no idea, really, but it is probably more than you think.

The latest LOTRO contest brought this thought to my mind.

The team at Turbine is having a contest, the grand prize for which is 100,000 Turbine Points.

That is a lot of Turbine points.

Enough that we’re starting to talk about real world value that is getting into consequential (i.e. taxable) amounts of money.

Depending on how you purchase them (since I have not seen Turbine publish anything like SOE’s guideline which pegs the value of 100 Station Cash at $1.00 US), that many Turbine points could run you anywhere from $600 to $1500.

For the sake of easy math, let’s call it 100 Turbine Points = $1.00 US, just like SOE’s model, in which case Turbine is giving you a prize worth $1,000.

And since the US Internal Revenue Service requires a business to file and issue a 1099-MISC tax document if they give you more than $600 in a calendar year, if you win you might find yourself paying for some of those free Turbine Points.

1099-MISC Filled Out Incorrectly

Think I am kidding?  Ask anybody who has ever been on Oprah’s Favorite Things episode.  You get all that free stuff, then you get a 1099-MISC with the retail value listed on it and the IRS wants its cut of that income.  Or something along those lines.  From the instructions for the 1099-MISC form:

Box 3. Generally, report this amount on the “Other income” line of Form 1040 and identify the payment. The amount shown may be payments received as the beneficiary of a deceased employee, prizes, awards, taxable damages, Indian gaming profits, or other taxable income. See Pub. 525. If it is trade or business income, report this amount on Schedule C, C-EZ, or F (Form 1040).

The tax on ordinary income is 28% the last time I checked (less all those deductions, which includes the fee for the tax person to get you all those deductions) so you could, theoretically find the IRS looking for up to 28,000 of your Turbine Points, if you are in the worst possible tax situation.  And then there is your state income tax, if you live in the right/wrong state.  That could add up to another 10,000 Turbine Points.

Well, the cash equivalent thereof.

I don’t think the IRS wants the points any more than it wants the engine out of the new VW Beetle some people got on Oprah last week.  But I like the idea of the IRS and the Franchise Tax Board with a fund of Turbine Points.  What would they buy?  Probably more storage space to hold the stuff they impound.

I know that, in the past, people have talked about the real world value of virtual currency.  Edward Castronova has measured the… gross virtual product I suppose… of such currencies in virtual enconomies while Julian Dibbell, in his book Play Money tried to get the IRS to put a value on his virtual world earnings.

But that has generally been about virtual currencies which are controlled by companies that deny, quite vehemently, that they are convertible into real world money and actively seek to stop such conversions.  (How many gold sellers has Blizzard banned to date?)

But now Turbine is giving away 100,000 units of a virtual currency which quite clearly has real world value.  They sell it for real world currency.  Even if we ignore the virtual currency dimension, it is something of value, a prime revenue stream for Turbine, that users buy to gain access to various aspects of the game.

Given that, is the IRS going to want a cut of the prize?

I don’t know, but I’m still entering the contest.  I do know what I’ll do with the points I am allowed to keep after taxes.

Meanwhile, in the In-Game LOTRO Store, Crafting Materials!

Lord of the Rings Online dropped a huge update yesterday that included new content, a vault update, a barter token wallet (at last!) and a lot more stuff available on which to spend your Turbine Points.  No, really, that is a really long list of new stuff to buy.

Among the more interesting items are crafting materials.

I got yer crafting materials right here

They include:

Scroll of Lesser Craft Acceleration

Provides a 25% bonus to experience earned from crafting. Lasts 10 minutes.

Apprentice Ingredient Pack

Apprentice Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Apprentice crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Journeyman Ingredient Pack

Journeyman Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Journeyman crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Expert Ingredient Pack

Expert Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Expert crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Artisan Ingredient Pack

Artisan Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Artisan crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Master Ingredient Pack

Master Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Master crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Supreme Ingredient Pack

Supreme Ingredient Packs can be used in place of traditional ingredients. These can only be used on recipes in the Supreme crafting tier. NOTE – Items crafted with Ingredient Packs are bound to account and cannot be traded to other players.

Recipes

The LOTRO Store has had over 100 new recipes added to it for items both new and old!

Seems that LOTRO learned something from EverQuest II Extended.  EQIIX has been selling crafting materials for a while now.  And something to speed up crafting experience… EQII had those as veteran rewards ages ago.

Recipes though, EQIIX doesn’t sell recipes does it?  No advanced crafting books available for Station Cash?  I wonder why not?

Of course, EQIIX has a very active broker right now, something that LOTRO lacks.

Once it gets done patching, I’ll log in to see how this all works.

Now if they would just automate server transfers for characters and get those in the LOTRO store.

A Weekend in EverQuest II Extended

I did not know it was going to be a free “gold level” weekend in EverQuest II Extended this past weekend.

Not that it would have mattered.  I opted in for a month of Station Access which, it turns out, also gives me a Gold Level membership in EQ2X, as I think I shall refer to it.

I figured that, as I had just done the level 1 to 20 jaunt in old, subscription style EQ2, that it might be an opportune time to compare that with extended.

I thought I was actually going in as a bronze level player when I grabbed the EQ2X client on Thursday.  However, I quickly noticed that I had a lot more bag slots than I was supposed to get as a bronzie.  I also did not have the option to upgrade to silver, which you can do for a one-time, 1,000 Station Cash transaction.

When I went to check my SOE account information, it showed me as a gold member by virtue of Station Access.

The current (as of this date) EQ2X membership chart will show you what the differences are (I have the previous one here, if you want to note minor changes):

The account level matrix

Still, even if I wasn’t a bronze, I figured that the comparison was still worthwhile.

I decided to repeat my experience as closely as I could.

I rolled up another barbarian berserker.  I started him in Halas.  I even named him Sigwerd.

Sigwerd (the second) is now level 22 on the Freeport server, the EQ2X server.  Here are things I noted on the way to that level.

Population

I saw a lot more people playing on EQ2X compared to my adventures on the Crushbone server, which is no slouch when it comes to population on the old servers.  It isn’t Antonia Bayle, but they are not going to merge it with another server either.

The Freeport server always shows a heavy load because it is the only EQ2X server available.  SOE appears to be ready to try out that single fantasy world idea I was speculating about roughly two years back.

Because EQ2 uses multiple versions of the same zone when a zone becomes heavily populated, I was not seeing anything like all of the people running around in the New Halas area.

Many versions of the Frostfang Sea

Because you end up doing a couple of solo instance events as part of the New Halas 1-20 quest line, you can tell when there are a lot of people about.  On Crushbone, on a Saturday afternoon, I never had to choose which version of the zone I wanted to enter.  But I saw as many as 7 versions of the Frostfang Sea on Freeport.

Of course, there is a downside to this.  If your main argument against WoW is that people are there are idiots, then EQ2X is proof that idiots are a fixed percentage of any population.  With everybody allowed access to all channels for the weekend, the idiots made themselves known.  I think the main purpose of the levels 1-9 channel is to force new players to learn how to turn off a chat channel.

And even if we vary on definition of who is a idiot, certainly the masses on EQ2X show a very WoW-like attitude towards what messages are appropriate on the Auction channel.

Still, I can put up with a bit of that to have a world that feels occupied and in use.  Or at least in a world where parts of it do.

Certainly New Halas is a vibrant and active location.  But it is the hot new zone with the fancy new housing.  Everybody wants to be there.

Meanwhile, a trip through Qeynos was a trip through an almost empty city.  A couple of people were running around, but it was about as active as the Crushbone version, which is to say not very active at all.  But then, what is there to bring people to Qeynos these days?

Buy Stuff, Sell Stuff

I was interested to see that on the EQ2X server that you could buy your way through the equipment rat race.  A set of master crafted armor, for example, runs 600 SC, or $6.00 US.

One suit, made to order

And the equipment grind is even more of a rat race these days since SOE has made old equipment lose its effectiveness as you out level it.


Sorry, that master crafted armor you bought 10 levels ago, it isn’t just 10 levels out of date on mitigation stats, it doesn’t give you any at all.

I am not sure what this is doing to the in-game market.  You are forced to buy new equipment every 10 levels, but SOE will happily let you buy your way out of that worry.  Is that good or bad for people who, say, craft armor?

The broker seemed pretty vibrant for things like collection quest items.   I made over a plat with those, mostly because I was being a bit obsessive about finishing off the butterfly collections.  But this was a weekend when everybody had access to it.

Most of the time, bronze players have no access, and silver players can buy but not sell on the broker unless they buy special credits.


Those 10 credits run $1.50, so you basically have to pay 15 cents to sell something on the broker.  That seems a bit steep.

I realize that it has been said that there is a hope that we’ll go back to the Commonlands Tunnel method of commerce.  The problem is, SOE will sell you all the important equipment, which leaves commodities like trade skill materials (which SOE will also sell you directly, btw) which are best handled via the broker.  I mean, there is a reason they put a broker in every trade skill instance, right?

The Inevitable LOTRO Comparison

Content is an obvious area of comparison with Lord of the Rings Online.

EQ2X gives you all the content in the game up to level 80.  If you want the Sentinal’s Fate content, which is 81-90, you’ll have to buy the expansion.  This is a big selling point over the LOTRO system where they want to sell you content past level 20 or so.

I was a bit surprised at how many restrictions I could not buy myself out of in EQ2X though.

Again, comparing with LOTRO, I like that they allow you to get past the bag slot restriction with cash.  More bag slots, more bank slots, more shared slots, all yours for some Turbine Points.  In EQ2X, these items are not available for Station Cash.  No, you have to move up to a higher access level.  The only exception seems to be character slots, on which I have given my opinion already, an opinion I heard echoed a few times in-game.

Then there is the currency question, Station Cash versus Turbine Points.  I like that Station Cash seems have a set value versus real world currency, so no matter how you buy it, it is 100 SC to the US Dollar. (In the US at least.)  Turbine Points can run anywhere from $0.60 to $2.00 per 100, depending on how and where you purchase it.

Station Cash also seems to have more options for purchasing.  For example, if I want some Station Cash, I will probably buy it via my cell phone, which is on a pre-paid plan that I barely use.  So there is more than $200 sitting there that I have already “spent” once, by putting $20 on the phone every 90 days to keep it active, that I could turn around and “spend” again on Station Cash.

On the flip side, I do really like that you can earn Turbine Points in game.  Played right, and not too far off the most efficient path, you can earn enough points to get a few zones past the initial level 20 cap.  Station Cash, as far as I can tell, is a cash-only situation, barring the 600 Station Cash I seemed to have accumulated by just being subscribed off and on over the last couple of years.

Conclusions?

Well, aside from the lack of that “Knight of Bayle” quest for new players, EQ2 and EQ2X are the same basic game.

EQ2X’s main draw, for those already play EQ2, is the fact that the server is well populated.  It is very nice to see the game feeling alive again.  It am glad that SOE is holding firm on keeping this to a single server, even if it does mean more disconnects when zoning. (On Sunday, every attempt to enter my house ended up with me at the character select screen.)

That said, it is kind of a pain that for EQ2 vets the option to play on a well populated server seems to require moving to a place where your $15 a month doesn’t buy you nearly as much.  I wonder if SOE should pursue a more aggressive plan towards server consolidation for EQ2 Live.

Then again, part of the liveliness of the Freeport server is that new people are joining the game.  You could crush all the EQ2 Live servers into a single server and still not get any new blood since the only trial for the game is EQ2X, and once you make characters there you cannot move them to EQ2 Live.

So it looks like EverQuest II Extended is the wave of the future.

What do you think?  Is a more vibrant and varied population worth the restrictions that hit even Gold level accounts?  Is there a way to save EQII Live, or will it be non-stop server consolidation from now on, until we’re all playing on the Antonia Bayle server?

And should SOE try this with EverQuest as well?

LOTRO Cash Shop Now Takes… Cash

Turbine sent me a note last week to inform me that I can now buy Turbine Points at Best Buy, GameStop, or Target.  Turbine has a page on their site about it.

Points plus bonus points... or something

$10 gets you 600 Turbine Points… or 750 Turbine Points, depending on whether you accept the logic that the extra points are really free or not.  1.67, or even 1.33 cents per point seems a bit steep to me.

But you have to pay for the convenience of being able to break open your piggy bank and run down to Target to buy virtual currency.

A couple of years back, the head of Nexon said (at GDC if I recall right) that getting these cards in the stores was a gold mine for both the company and the retailer.  But Nexon has cards at a lot more retailers than Turbine.

We’ll see if their cards are still available in a year I guess.  If they are, they were probably a success.

And I still think it was a mistake for Turbine to make LOTRO Turbine Points and DDO Turbine Points separate.

I Got My 95 Turbine Points Back

It took Turbine a while, but they finally got back to me.

Thanks for your inquiry. We have processed a refund for the 95 Turbine Points to your account for the vault slots you did not receive.

The upgrade displaying in the store for you was an error. The vault upgrade was meant to display for players that only had 30 slots.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please respond to this email, and we will be happy to assist you.

Thank you,
The Turbine Customer Service Team

I am sure that they were seriously backlogged with support cases with the launch of the LOTRO Store.  I lost the 95 points back at the head-start launch for LOTRO Free to Play.  They were not the only points I lost,  but they were the only ones I was going to hold a grudge about were they not returned.

And I can hold a grudge.

How I Got My 5,000 Turbine Points

As I posted last night, I ended up with 4,500 Turbine Points as part of their loyalty rewards program.

Today, Turbine sent me an email with the details, including a nice little chart detailing how those points were doled out.

A Nice Little Chart

I have that accounting that I was looking for now.

Of course, I figured way back, and boy I’ve linked this post quite a bit lately, that I was going to get 5,000 points.  But they went live with Free to Play a month earlier than I figured they would.

But the note from Turbine also included a bonus.

Also, as a LOTRO Beta participant this summer, you also receive a point code for additional 500 Turbine Points. To redeem the code, go to the LOTRO Store and click the Add Points button in the top-right section. Then, click on the REDEEM MY CARD button. Finally, select Turbine Points Code as the type of points code to redeem, then copy and paste your code into the Enter Points Code field and click REDEEM NOW.

500 additional points, rounding me up to an even 5,000.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Now about my bank slots….