Elder Scrolls Online defends subscription fee with regular, "significant" content

Bethesda want to give their MMO players a value proposition that's not just a "new sword" or a "funny hat" every month.

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Bethesda's Vice President of PR, Pete Hines, has detailed the publisher's plan to support The Elder Scrolls Online post-launch with regular content additions. Speaking to GameSpot, Hines defended the game's monthly $14.99 subscription fee by describing it as a "value proposition".

"We feel pretty strongly about the support we're going to have for the game and what you're going to get for those dollars," he said when asked why The Elder Scrolls Online was not pursuing a free-to-play model. "We're also very confident in our ability to support it with content. And not content of the magnitude of, it's a new month, here's a new sword or here's a funny hat--but content that is real and significant and it feels like regular and consistent DLC releases."

"... Not here's a new sword or here's a funny hat--but content that is real and significant and it feels like regular and consistent DLC releases."

Hines further justified the subscription fee by explaining that, as a massively multiplayer game, The Elder Scrolls Online would require all players to have the same content installed and available to them in order to interact with one another.

"So you wind up in a situation where you say, look, by and large, when you're talking about regular content, adding new features and new parts of the world, either you're all in or you're not," he continued.

Hines recognized that this may limit the MMORPG's potential number of players, saying that this was not an issue for Bethesda.

"We're not trying to make a game that everybody who plays games will automatically buy," he elaborated. "It is a certain kind of game. There's no shooter elements. There's no aliens. It is a massive, 'Go where you want, do what you want' game that we think offers the kind of experience that's worthy of a subscription."

Hines described how this approach would have been affected had Bethesda chosen to adopt a free-to-play model, stating that the percentage of the team Bethesda could afford to assign to create future content would depend upon the The Elder Scrolls Online's base sales performance.

"That just seems like a lesser game, and we're not going to make a lesser game that might be more palatable," he continued. "We want to do the version that we think is the best game and the coolest experience. And that means putting a lot of people and a lot of content creators towards having stuff that comes our regularly; every four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. Big new stuff that you want to do."

The Elder Scrolls Online was rated M last month for sexual innuendo and severed heads. It's set to launch in April on PC and Mac and will come to Xbox One and PS4 in June.

Daniel Hindes is the AU editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @dhindes
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