Eschewing the free-to-play models of other MMO’s, Bethesda’s upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online will feature a premium $60 price across all released platforms, and will include a $15/month subscription fee. The release date is set for April 4th, 2014 on PC and June 2014 for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. The total cost of the game for one year will be a whopping $240.
For Bethesda, I always figured Skyrim and its predecessors to be single-player MMO’s. They have the same wide-but-shallow scope of activities, an expansive world with a complex mythology, and lots of grind. However, I’m uncertain of the decision that Bethesda hasn’t necessarily leapt on the FTP bandwagon quite just yet with their new flagship title. Then again, I’m also not upset, considering the FTP model is rife with nickle-and-diming microtransactions, and lead by the obnoxious trend of having gimme gimme payment tactics.
I have a lot of feelings about this, kids. Zenimax and Bethesda however are sticking with a monetization model that seems to be in a constant state flux, critics and propenents claiming that microtranscations and FTP are both the future and both dying out. So they’re not going FTP, but then again, neither did Star Wars: The Old Republic at first and after they were hemmoraging subscribers, they made the swap and practically saved the game. The TF2 Mannconomy is riding high with its galaxy of hats and cosmetic items.
The Elder Scrolls Online has yet to prove a convincing argument for me as a fan in justifying this hefty entry fee, or its reported $200 million budget. Paul Tassi, over at Forbes Magazine (the stalwart richboy circlejerk), wrote a scathing editorial that TESO was going to be a disaster due to the fluctuating nature of how gamers feel about the never-solid landscape of the subscription model. It feels like Jello, seems to be the consensus, which means risk, which means potential disaster. It’s all very touchy-feeling. Pathfinder Online’s Ryan Dancey shot back with a retort, stating that the audience will determine the most successful subscription model.
All I can say is that I would like an Elder Scrolls MMO, please. It’s a rich fantasy world with huge potential for a solid MMO community. Let’s hope they adhere to the golden rule of gaming: respect your audience. Don’t treat us like walking ATM’s. If your game is worth $240 a year, people will pay for it.