In a recent interview with Gamestar, Matt Firor, the General Manager of ZeniMax Online confirms that the company has chosen a subscription-based model for their highly anticipated open-world MMORPG The Elder Scrolls Online.
There are countless MMO’s that have had to incorporate a mix of subscription-based and free-to-play models out of necessity (Star Wars: The Old Republic and RIFT come to mind), however this hybrid structure may prove to be a successful venture for various titles.
And the free-to-play model is a trend that’s on the rise, along with micro-transactions for in-game content.
With The Elder Scrolls Online, Bethesda won’t include any micro-transactions, limited free-to-play features or annoying monetization options: it’ll be just a simple recurring payment of $14.99 a month, and players will get a free 30 days with their copy of the game.
“We are going with the subscription model for ESO.
…Charging a flat monthly (or subscription) fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play.
Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make.
The Elder Scrolls Online offers unlimited play for the first 30 days with the purchase of the game. The choice is yours to play as much as you want; hundreds of hours of content, PvP, etc – is all there for you to experience with the base purchase of the game.
It’s very simple – you pay once per month after the first 30 days and the entire game is available to you.”
While it’s quite true that the free-to-play structure does often limit various gameplay elements and forces developers to add constrictions to in-game content, the model is nonetheless thriving in the gaming sector.
Bethesda is more than confident that their epic medieval fantasy MMO will be best represented with the subscription-based structure, however the company will have to offer a substantial array of content to justify the $14.99 a month cost.
“The Elder Scrolls Online was designed and developed to be a premium experience: hundreds of hours of gameplay, tons of depth and features, professional customer support – and a commitment to have ongoing content at regular intervals after launch.
“This type of experience is best paired with a one-time fee per month, as opposed to many smaller payments that would probably add up to more than $14.99/month any way.
“F2P, B2P, etc. are valid, proven business models – but subscription is the one that fits ESO the best, given our commitment to freedom of gameplay, quality and long-term content delivery.
“Plus, players will appreciate not having to worry about being “monetized” in the middle of playing the game, which is definitely a problem that is cropping up more and more in online gaming these days. The fact that the word “monetized” exists points to the heart of the issue for us:
“We don’t want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for – with our system, they get it all.”
While the $14.99 per month subscription fee may seem a bit steep to some players, it’s important to note that this value is similar to the premium memberships offered by popular MMO’s like World of Warcraft and SW: The Old Republic (both of which offer free-to-play models).
The Elder Scrolls Online marks the evolution of the franchise as a whole, as Bethesda has breathed new life into their sprawling fantasy world and given players the chance to explore a massive world that’s rife with magic and mystery. We went hands-on with The Elder Scrolls Online at this year’s E3 expo and found out just how impressive the game is–and the finished version will have much more content to offer players.
All in all based on the sheer volume of gameplay content that Bethesda is planning to offer with their massive MMO, the subscription fee seems fair–as long as the company can consistently deliver its claim, which it most likely will be able to.
The game will take players across the entirety of Tamriel, with a multitude of quests, side-missions, raids and PvP battles to partake in. Gamers will be able to customize and build their very own character in true MMO fashion, collecting loot and epic items along the way and–for the first time ever in an Elder Scrolls game–be able to do all of this with their friends via online multiplayer.
It is no small comfort to see them turn their backs on a convoluted Free-to-Play structure peppered with micro-transactions and monetization queues, and like most MMO’s it will include an initial free month of play so that gamers can see how well it fits with them.