The Lord of the Rings Online (commonly abbreviated to LOTRO), initially branded as The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Microsoft Windows and OS X set in a fantasy universe based upon J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings. It takes place during the time period of The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings Online was developed and is maintained by Turbine after Jeffrey Anderson secured the rights from Vivendi. Originally subscription-based, it is free-to-play, with a paid VIP subscription available that provides players various perks. Four of the more prominent are access to all game regions and content not part of an expansion pack, the ability to swiftly travel between major towns, the removal of the currency cap that would otherwise hamper the economic freedom of a player, and the ability to send currency through the mail system, and make cash-on-delivery payments.
It launched in North America, Australia, Japan, and Europe on April 24, 2007. In addition to regular free updates, five expansion packs have been released to date: Mines of Moria in 2008, Siege of Mirkwood in 2009, Rise of Isengard in 2011, Riders of Rohan in 2012, and Helm's Deep on November 20, 2013. In 2010, the NPD Group reported that the game was "the third most played massively multiplayer role-playing game" with Turbine citing their free-to-play model as the reason for the growing subscriber base.[6