The Elder Scrolls Online Subscription Fee Thoughts & Predictions

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The biggest question on everyone’s mind when The Elder Scrolls Online was announced a year ago was not what species could you play as, are there specific classes, what provinces of Tamriel could you visit but what would the payment method be? Over the past few years the traditional 15 dollars a month subscription fee has fallen by the way side and has been largely replaced by the free 2 play model with a few exceptions like WoW and EVE Online.

Many people, including myself, thought there was no way in hell Bethesda would go with the 15 dollars a month method. I just assumed they would examine what Guild Wars 2 did, in which you paid 60 dollars for the game and you didn’t need to pay a dime after that. Its a method that’s working because GW2 sold 2 million copies last year and ArenaNet recently stated the game has continued to sell more and more copies with over 3.5 million units sold thus far.

But last week Bethesda pretty much gave everyone a Ben Affleck cast as Batman WTF out of left field style announcement when they said the game would indeed need a 15 dollar monthly subscription fee. This made a large amount of gamers, including myself just give up on the game and wait for it to go F2P which in my opinion will happen in a matter of months or a year. But why does everyone jump to that conclusion for every subscription based MMO these days? The answer lies with another high profile MMO which fell flat on its face known as Star Wars The Old Republic.

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Much like TES Online, SWTOR was another highly anticipated MMO with a well known developer working on it and set in a very beloved world with a large fanbase, what could possibly go wrong? A lot actually, the two main problems of SWTOR were 1) it had no end game content and 2) they couldn’t get content out fast enough to justify the monthly subscription fee so the large number of players who purchased it day one quickly burned through all the content, had nothing left to do so they canceled their subscriptions and left to go play something else.

The first problem is one many MMOs face. They usually lack content that’s meant to be there once the main quest line and stories are complete, their character is at max level and they need a good reason to keep paying monthly, many MMOs however lack this kind of content so once people complete the main things and get to the maximum possible level, they have nothing to do and just leave. This is what happened with SWTOR and its really damaging the previous MMO juggernaut WoW.

Now the developers reasons for why they need the 15 dollar monthly subscription fee is because it lets them do all these amazing things, it allows them to get content out quicker and its there to let them give the players the game they deserve. The problem with these reasons is the fact the SWTOR devs made pretty much gave the same exact reasons and even with the monthly fee they weren’t able to get content out quickly enough.

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Content which was supposed to come out every two weeks or every month was coming out every few months, and with more and more of their players burning through all the various storylines and quests, people simply stopped paying and left completely. This resulted in SWTOR going F2P just 8 months after it had come out.

This could just as easily happen to TES Online because its pretty much the next SWTOR in terms of hype and anticipation, if you told me in 2010 SWTOR would fall flat on its face I would have laughed in your face and told you to cut the bullshit, and yet it fell flat on its face and it left a huge amount of gamers really disappointed because of all the potential that was wasted.

TES Online is seemingly setting itself up to follow in the same footsteps as SWTOR, except the guys who jump on to it probably wont be close to the same numbers as the guys who jumped on to SWTOR day one because people are really apprehensive about MMOs with monthly fees and they don’t want to get burned again.

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To make matters even worse, people who play TES Online on PS4 and Xbox One are going to have to pay 60 dollars for the game when it comes out, 15 dollars a month to keep playing AND the PS+ and Xbox Gold monthly fees as well! Now Bethesda is trying to find a compromise with the big two in order to get rid of this PS+ and Xbox Gold for TES Online users but I seriously doubt Microsoft and Sony are going to let this happen.

Now that I’m done analyzing this whole situation and explaining why I and many others are apprehensive following this announcement, all I have to say is why? Why would it be so horrible to adopt the Guild Wars 2 method? Pay 60 dollars for the game on release just like every other and you’re done, you don’t have to spend a dime, the game is yours and you can play it as much or as little as you want free of further charge.

Originally I though this method might not translate into long term profit for ArenaNet but as I said before, 2 million units sold in its first month, and now 3.5 million sold in its first year, so I was wrong and the method clearly has long term  profit potential.

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As the IGN guys stated in their Game Scoop coverage of this news, if Zenimax and Bethesda REALLY need those 15 dollars every month, then why not release the game for free at launch? People are clearly going to need to pay a lot of money monthly (if you get it on consoles) so why not just let people download it for free and slowly get back your profit through that monthly sub fee?

Hell the game already has an in-game store where you can purchase things with real world money so you have an additional way of making consistent, monthly profit. If not for free, then at a discount or something, make it 30 or 40 dollars!

Because as it stands right now, the game is in a pretty bad situation just because of the sheer amount of money people are going to have to spend on it, and this doesn’t even take into account the games quality which, if the game play is to be believed, probably wont be that particularly good but hey good games have been shown off badly before so this may very well be one of those situations.

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But for a game that’s already lost a lot of potential buyers and is probably going to lose even more due to the sheer amount of money needed to pay for it, you need to make sure the finished game is a quality product and you need to do a better freaking job of showing it off in game play videos and trailers. Because as it stands you guys are doing a pretty piss poor job of promoting a game that’s supposedly “The next great MMO/Elder Scrolls experience!”.

Those are my two cents on the subject, what do you guys think about TES Online following this announcement? Have you given up on it? Are you more excited for it now than before? Do you even care? Tell me down in the comments below, Id love to hear your guy’s thoughts on this pretty interesting situation.


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