Warner Bros and Turbine have said that the massively multiplayer online title Lord of the Rings Online is to become a free-to-play game this autumn.
Turbine's other MMO, Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited, adopted a free-to-play model in September 2009, with the company claiming revenues shot up 500 per cent as a result.
Warner bought Turbine earlier this year for an estimated $160 million as it moved into the MMO market, stressing at the time the attraction of the developers proprietry digital publishing and commerce technology.
"Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited was the world’s first truly premium free-to-play online game that ushered in a new era of choice for online gamers seeking quality entertainment," commented Jim Crowley, president and CEO of Turbine.
"The popularity of DDO validated the extraordinary demand by gamers for quality entertainment they can experience at their own pace and within their budget. Extending free-to-play to Lord of the Rings Online will offer another premium game to a broad spectrum of fans."
The game, which is managed in Europe by Codemasters, will charge users for expansions, quest packs, items and account services from the new LOTRO Store, as well as offering a VIP program for unlimited access to all of the game's content for one price. A beta will begin on June 16.
"Having successfully taken two titles free-to-play in the past we are very pleased to be doing the same with The Lord of the Rings Online in Europe," said David Solari, general manager of Codemasters Online.
"It's a fantastic, award-winning game with a wonderfully realised world and this step will only broaden its appeal and increase its player base."