The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Pay-To-Play.
The Elder Scrolls Online will feature a pay-to-play subscription model. The upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game will cost $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 a month after the first month, which is free.
Matt Firor, president of Zenimax Online Studios, announced that the game would be taking the paid subscription route over the free-to-play model in an interview with Gamestar. He felt that despite the fact that many MMOs have dropped their subscription fees, it is not indicative of the end of pay-to-play gaming.
“It’s a bold move by Zenimax Online. Recent subscription-based games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, Tera or Rift were unable to sustain their subscription base and have since been forced to adopt a hybrid free-to-play business model, fueling the wide-spread belief that the subscription-model was outdated. Bethesda clearly doesn’t agree.”
Firor said that choosing a pay-to-play business model allowed the team to create the game that they had envisioned as well as give the fans the game that they had been waiting for.
“We’re building a game with the freedom to play – alone or with your friends – as much as you want. A game with meaningful and consistent content – one packed with hundreds of hours of gameplay that can be experienced right away and one that will be supported with premium customer support. 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.”
He continued by explaining that a once-a-month fee would not only ensure that the development team would be dedicated to bringing the best content possible to players, but that it may end up costing them less than micro-transactions in the end.
“The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want. We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play. 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.”
Firor made sure to point out that Bethesda is by no means discrediting other subscription models. Rather, he believes that free-to-play models are entirely valid, though they simply do not fit The Elder Scrolls Online.
“And it’s important to state that our decision to go with subscriptions is not a referendum on online game revenue models. 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.”
He ensured that players will be “getting their money’s worth” by paying for their subscription since the team is already working on adding “New quest lines, skills, zones, dungeons”, as well as end-game content and PvP. He stated that the current goal is to release new content every four to six weeks, though they won’t know for certain until the game launches.
The Elder Scrolls Online will be releasing on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. The team is currently aiming to release the game by Spring 2014, though it may be subject to change as no official release dates have been announced. The open beta for the game will be PS4 exclusive for a short time, though full details on the console beta will be revealed early next year. The PC beta already has “tens of thousands” of players and will be open to many more over the coming months.