Elder Scrolls Online will eventually be free-to-play - Analyst

Game consultancy business founder says ZeniMax will launch new MMORPG with paid subscription, but will drop fee in time.

ZeniMax will launch The Elder Scrolls Online with a monthly paid subscription model but will in time transition the title to free-to-play, according to Nicholas Lovell, founder of game consultancy firm Gamesbrief.

The Elder Scrolls Online won't have a subscription fee forever, predicts Lovell.

"I still believe that subscription games are on the way out," Lovell told Edge. "It is conceivable that Bethesda will launch with a subscription service to attract the early adopters, because that is the model they understand."

He added, "They will switch to free-to-play later, in the same way that many iOS games go from paid to freemium over their lifetime. EA is struggling with The Old Republic, [but] almost everyone else is transitioning to free-to-play."

Two marquee subscription-based massively multiplayer online games on the market today are Blizzard's World of Warcraft and BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. Both titles have suffered subscription dips recently, with 2 million bidding adieu to Azeroth since 2010, and 400,000 saying good-bye to Star Wars in the span of just three months.

The Elder Scrolls Online was announced last week and is headed to the PC and Mac in 2013. The game has been in development since 2007 and will cover the entire continent of Tamriel, including the lands featured in previous Elder Scrolls games like Cyrodiil, Skyrim, and Morrowind. Additionally, the title will be set 1,000 years before the events of last year's hit Skyrim and will put players into the world on the brink of demonic assimilation at the hands of the daedric prince Molag Bal.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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367 comments
01mugze01
01mugze01

... Wow this just in, random guy states this game will go F2P with no supporting evidence.  Who thought it would be a good idea to have this article based on what the "Mrs Cleo" of video games said and try to spin it off as informative.


Maybe it is time to revive the P2P model, the $15 sub a month model should be gone!  Netflix charges $8 for all the entertainment you can handle.  Charge me $8 to play then charge me for the extra content you will undoubtedly release and have already planed to charge me.  Or you can charge me the $15, BUT include a timer that stops when I do (not sure I like this fully but a lot of weekend warriors will).  There is no need to ditch a viable model, evolve.


Heck pick one of the two above and even include a separate F2P server that includes a cash store.  Those people who want can still play BUT need to contend with gold spammers/ P2W fanatics who spend tons of cash just to win  and generally d-baggery of the 11 year old flood that will undoubtedly be there just to piss people off and incorrectly spell even the simplest of words.  

gameexpert33
gameexpert33

If it does go F2P hopefully it will be like the guild wars 2 model

aelfgyve
aelfgyve

I don't actually think I want it to become completely free to play. I can imagine it becoming a clusterfest of thirteen-year-olds running around ruining people's playthroughs and the game economy, fast. One of the good things about having a pay-to-play game is that the vast majority of players are old enough to own a credit card, and therefore are usually more mature than the F2P crowd. However, I agree that it's too expensive for what it is.


Considering that I paid about 20GPB, or around $30, for the entire series 1-5 with all the DLCs (it was on sale, but it wasn't more than $70 originally-- and while I'd bought III-V independently in the years beforehand, my point still stands), $60 plus an additional $180/year is way too much. If it blew other titles out of the water, or it was like nothing else on the market (say, it returned to its unique Daggerfall/Morrowind-era feel... Beth? Please?), I might reluctantly consider it. 


But I just couldn't pay that kind of money for a game with upscaled Morrowind-era graphics, in which I have to deal with other players breaking my immersion, where there is practically a guarantee of there never being an end to the main questlines (it's an MMO after all, it can't ever make substantial progress without new players missing out), which is largely unmoddable, in which people have already reached the level cap, and where I'd have to break my roleplay in order to advance with other players... those downsides are just too large.


It's sad, because I really want to play it. An ES game set in the Interregnum? Where you meet Mannimarco again? With Anuic/Padomaic shenanigans? And you can explore Coldharbour? My mind is blown-- and I want to find and read its books, dammit! 


What I'd prefer is either an up-front $60 payment, or $15/month. Ideally I'd like the up-front payment; I'd be willing and happy to pay that, but I understand that subscriptions make more money. And you know what, that's okay. I understand. They're companies, they exist to make money. The more money they have, the more money they can put into making TESVI a better game than Oblivion or Skyrim*. But there's a difference between supporting a company and being ripped off by a company, and they crossed that line.


What I would love is if they make ESO their go-to game for people who prefer gameplay and hack-and-slash over story, and concentrated on the more complex story/history side of the ES universe in the single-player games. Or vice-versa. That way they could potentially keep both the lore junkies and the action types on board without having to try to compromise to both, and it'd prevent ESO/TESVI+ from becoming more of the same. I doubt it would happen (action games sell better) but I'd be totally behind it.



*Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Arena/Daggerfall/Morrowind were perfect, and I loved Skyrim-- in fact I've probably put more hours into that game than the other games combined. However, despite its awesome scope, it was bugged as all get out, the engine is an outdated mess, and it was painfully obvious that they had to make a ton of cuts to release on time. The quest storylines were underwhelming at best, and didn't make sense at worst. When the modding community is the best thing about a game, you may have a problem.

(And looking at the fragments of code which weren't implemented is just the worst when you realise how cool (and dark!) the game was originally meant to be. Killing Elisif in Boethiah's name! Time travel at the College of Winterhold! Balgruuf's children murder him for Mephala! You can lose civil war battles and Giants help the Stormcloaks! No, seriously, it could have been awesome.)

cameroncr95
cameroncr95

ESO costing $60 just for the disc and $15 a month is absolutely pathetic and a complete rip off. 


Personally, I feel ESO should not have been developed into an MMO. Rather, with the resources they had and how they are bringing massive cities and areas in from other ES games, this could easily have been an offline single player spinoff. Hell, if given enough time and effort, it could have even transported into a full numbered entry. Who knows. Eitherway, ESO costing money to play is pathetic and will cost the game in the long run. I give it 5 years before it shuts down. 

willybillybobb
willybillybobb

The only way I'll play any Bethesda games after their shotty release of skyrim on the ps3 is free.  As a matter of fact with a new comp on the way I will finally get to actually play skyrim with the added bonus of not paying for it again.


Bethesda is a horrible company and all their games should be free on release.

elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

Both Ursula23 and sugram22 have good points, especially Ursula23, but I disagree on 2 points and here is why.

  • Lowering the price lowers the quality, I want a higher sub fee and better quality, not lower.
  • Sometimes I like to veg out in game and do silly things, I don't want to feel pressured to max out my play time.


Honestly I don't understand why anyone complains about a game that has a sub fee, there are plenty out there that don't.  Play those, leave the quality games to those who don't mind paying for what they get.

Ursula23
Ursula23

Monthly subscriptions offer an even playing field with no Pay-To-Win elements.  Everyone gets the same stuff for their toons, at base, without the insidious and corrosive effects on the player base from buying advantages over earning advantages.  PTW reduces the player base to a population teeming over with individuals who want to buy their wins rather than immersing themselves into the game, learning the game, owning the game, and thus earning the better items and level of gameplay.  Cuz it's hard and takes time...and requires networking with other players in a polite manner.  Easier just to pay, right? 

Free-To-Play rarely is free, but offers the illusion of such through "choice".  It typically involves an "optional" Pay-To-Win element for advantages over those who don't Pay-To-Win, thus creating an atmosphere that sucks the lesser-thinking folks into paying in to "keep up" or "not get left behind" often legitimized by phrases like "I have to or I'll have noobs passing me up" or "It's just $10, not like a monthly subscription" forgetting the fact that the $10 is happening over and over again.  And so the cycle goes.


The unfortunate truth is that votes only happen with the dollar.  The company doesn't care what's typed about it only whether the dollar reaches the company pocket.  So, as long as people Pay To Win, games will go Free To Play, allowing the gaming companies to earn their dollars in that illusory "free" way instead.  They don't care, they still get paid.  And let's face it, the types of individuals who would rather buy a win exist in far higher numbers than those who would rather earn a win.  Wishing for Free To Play isn't the best option.  Really.  Think about it.  How many games have suffered a slow decline, bleeding the better players as they sank into a state of near death with a FreeToPlay/PayToWin model?


Diashi's right though, ~$7.99/mo would work.  That is what Netflix charges for monthly entertainment that isn't CableTV so the pricing would fit for an MMO as well.



elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

Should ESO ever go free to play I will gladly leave it, just as I did RIFT.  Sub models always provide a superb quality that I will not sacrifice for any illusory "free" scam model.

OldKye
OldKye

It seems to me to always boil down to this.

People with jobs and money want a subscription they want the whole game for a set price.

People with no money like kids want a free to play cause they are not going to spend any money.


Here's the problem for people with money and why subscriptions are really dying and it's not cause they don't make money.


The company can make a subscription game the people with money will play it but the people without like kids with nothing to do will spend every waking moment saying how terrible a game it is and they hate it.


If they go free to play the people without money will praise it and advertise it for them even thought they will not get access to the "full" game they will praise it and maybe spend a buck or two when they have it.

The people with money will be forced to pay 4-5x the money to get the whole game thus covering the "free" players who don't pay well those same players tell them how great the game is and because they give no promises the company can increase prices and block content whenever they feel like it.


Thus why would you do subscription when you can rob people and they will thank you for it?

samuelthomas
samuelthomas

The entire idea of an MMO completely goes against what Elder Scrolls has always been about. Not to mention the fact that the Elder Scrolls series has done so well because once the player payed, there were unlimited possibilities of gameplay, what with mods and such. This is it folks. This is where I get off the Elder Scrolls bandwagon. Skyrim is it for me. By the way, out of necessity after losing a job due to an illness, I took a brief layover position WORKING FOR BETHESDA. They are HORRIBLE to their employees on the Elder Scrolls online project. Privacy violations up the wu-zoo, and if you're an observant Christian or are Jewish forget it. You can't get those days off due to religious observance. Period. That's illegal folks. Bethesda, it's been a great 20 year run. But you ruined it in 2014 and I'm off for good.

Diashi
Diashi

I would totally do like $6-8 per month for it...$15 adds up fast though...

guanman
guanman

I think that if ESO became free to play (f2p, then it would either be great or fail miserably. My idea of a good f2p is that f2p players play on a different server from the pay to play (p2p) players. The f2p server would give everyone on it certain penalties (like SLIGHTLY less xp income). This would include a p2p players, thus preventing them from coming in with every possible bonus and destroying everyone. It would also mean the f2p players would almost all be equal and none would have to work harder to be better than the other. Honestly though, I dont think ESO will become f2p, but moreover you pay once and not ever again to play.

snjor
snjor

I stopped reading the moment he said ESO would go free to play because iOS games are free to play.

drode567
drode567

so this game will be F2P when exactly?

grin89
grin89

johnny we need feedbacula back look at all these golden comments

Earth_Krish
Earth_Krish

When it's free to play it might be actually worth the time in anyway. Right now it's $60 plus a monthly subscription for a buggy and crappy looking game doing nothing much different from the most generic MMOs.

sugram22
sugram22

@Ursula23 solution to it is better Sub System, System Like When u log out Sub Countdown Stops, so no money goes to waste when u ton't play, that's mane reason why a lot of people ton't want to sub, cause they feel bad for not playing & there is times they cant play a week or a month, & some can play only in weekends, so for them its waste of money, even Manual Freeze would do, Freeze button At Char List Menu or automatic Freeze , when u log out Sub Countdown Stop's


cause Sub System is not like that i Play only F2P MMO'S & BTP MMO'S, if it changes then i will consider Becoming Sub

sugram22
sugram22

@elijafirebrand well Start Trek Online is good F2P game, just not my taste, if it would be bit more like Star Wars Old Republic then it would be my taste, but F2P System there is good, or at least was, have not play'd it for long time, if it dose it like Star Trek then it would not be bad, it is interesting to see how long the game lasts as P2P, considering that this day's 90% of MMO'S go F2P


maybe it won't go F2P, instead it goes to Buy To Play, like The Secret World  did :)

cameroncr95
cameroncr95

@OldKye OR maybe there are people who simply cannot afford to spend full retail $60 and THEN be forced to pay $15 a month? 

sugram22
sugram22

@OldKye  i believe my reason why i ton't like Sub is Fair, if u read my full blog u should understand, well u can leave out the part where i talk about what issue i have with F2P, its optional, its blog about Star Wars The Old Republic, but i talk about all MMO'S there not just, not by name OFC, i mean its not only directed to start wars, but all MMO'S

elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

@OldKye  Easy fix.  Don't play "free" to play games, they are scams full of freeloaders.

elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

@samuelthomas  False.  WoW started as Warcraft and the MMORPG complimented it perfectly just as ESO does.

That said I do agree that Bethesda has some shady practices.

theorchero
theorchero

@guanman  It's going to go F2P. P2P is dying because people are tired of buying the original game and having to pay them money so they can PLAY it in the first place, THEN having to pay for additional content on top of that. That's what the 15$ is supposed to be for! Additional content and upkeep of servers. Instead, they use it to line their pockets and make you pay another 60$ for another expansion.

drakemono
drakemono

@Earth_Krish  Though every MMOs always started all bugged, and WoW was one of the most bugged and one of the most expensive MMOs at his start. But what a surprise, it's still paying! ESO started in a much much better way than WoW, making him having great chances to continue.


Also, from a site that bug (spend one hour trying to make an account until I understood that the mistake they didn't know what is it means username already taken... -_-) that way and arguing the same way as 10-15 years old do (from another forum I'm on...) I'm not surprised I see stuff like that...

stormvessel1981
stormvessel1981

@Earth_Krish  Nothing much different? Everything from the combat system, banking system, crafting system, spellbar system, hybrid class system, leveling system, friend system, guild system, mount system,  server system, interface system, interaction system, and quest system is completely uncharted territory in the MMO landscape. You have no clue what you're babbling on about. Not only that, but ESO isn't even really an MMO, and certainly not a "generic MMO". A "generic MMO" would be something like LoTRO, or WoW. ESO is an MMO hybrid; a multiplayer RPG with MMO elements. It is anything but "generic". It is the most completely innovative MMO since EVE Online.

OldKye
OldKye

@cameroncr95 @OldKye If I can't afford a car I don't get to drive lol.

Forcing everyone in america to ride the bus and make the people with money pay for it all by making it cost "more" then a car to ride inside the bus out of the rain and snow is not a better experience.


I don't want to pay extra to ride the bus and I don't want to pay for your free game lol you get what your pay for.

OldKye
OldKye

@elijafirebrand @OldKye  Sounds easy enough but if every subscription based game buckles under the pressure we have nothing left to play lol. 

will_no
will_no

@drakemono @Earth_Krish  Wow was created what 10 years ago.  The industry was a whole different climate back then.  ESO cannot be compared directly, and it's attempt to replicate wow's success was foolhardy.  This much is obvious even to the average gamer with average intelligence, and at least some experience watching the industry and how it's trending.

will_no
will_no

@stormvessel1981 @Earth_Krish  You're right, ESO isn't generic, it's just bad in all the wrong places.


It LOOKS generic though, graphically.  And it also has a generally soulless atmosphere in game, which feels both rushed and created without care at the same time.

elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

@OldKye @cameroncr95 Exactly and well said, these cry babies just want a free ride while we foot the bill.  Been there (GW2) done that, they won't get me again I assure you.

I think I'm going to make your reply my signature lol.

sugram22
sugram22

@the_ecks Buy To  Play would be better, wit itemshop, players can buy special Mounts & cosmetics, there are people who want to show off or look cool, so they use itemshop to give them a bit extra money 

the_ecks
the_ecks

As for the 200 years from now statement, let's wait until we have a time machine to check that out, in the meanwhile i will point out that every atheist i know would have to agree that the belief in no religion definitely does predate any religion, including christianity. We just have no problem with it because our thinking on the subject has evolved beyond the fears most people used to have marring their perception of reality. Christians, well, a majority there of, tend to get stuck on the, "we're right, you're wrong, and nothing you can show me will change what i think because in bible school the teacher read this out of an ancient 5th revision on a re-translated text that was made of word-of-mouth stories passed down for 60 to 900 generations and than said this about it...." thing. That's why most people who understand and embrace the origin and goal of scientific data are having major problems siding with Christians and are pretty much left feeling like they have no tangible God which can be iterated to the Christian mega-cult.

the_ecks
the_ecks

Hey, evolution is based on rock solid evidence. The only religion for stupid people is the one which requires people to shut their eyes and minds to things like rock solid (scientific) evidence that redefines the way they imagine this world and it's connection to the universe as a whole to be. Also to Samuel, infowars appears to me to be right-wing tea-nut Koch bros. Propaganda. As if there aren't already enough clouded-minded numbskulls out there imagining 5 hat the progressives are hell-bent on taking away all their freedoms and converting America to a Marxist socialist state of government. Truth be told, there are extremes to either side, but America was founded as a democratic republic by atheist immigrants. The issues today are way easier to grasp when you aren't being force-fed fear-based lies as truth and influenced to look around the real good that the liberals of our democratic party are trying to do for our government, our health, and our civil freedoms. But you'd probably never understand because you're already plugging a conservative site on a gamer's message board.

Back to the original topic, I agree with paid sub for ESO, but since the game itself is being payed for at retail price, I side with those who feel the sub is currently overpriced. The yearly cost should be anywhere from 30-50 dollars tops, or 5-7 bucks a month. The amount of players who would feel satisfied playing at that level of premium would more than make up for the drop in price to revenue generated ratio.

will_no
will_no

@IceQBkid @will_no @samuelthomas Science is definitely a religion, a religion for sale at that.  And getting rid of atheism?  In 200 years atheism will be just as outdated concept as atheists perceive christianity is today.

elijafirebrand
elijafirebrand

@will_no @IceQBkid @samuelthomas  ^ this.  Although true science isn't a religion, evotards have made it into one, believing in fairy tales over solid evidence.  

Atheism is definitely the religion of stupid people.

01mugze01
01mugze01

@elijafirebrand @theorchero If people want a FTP ESO the have private pay to play servers for people who want a level playing field.  Then have a set for the welfare gamers who are entitled to "free" entertainment, include cash shops so you can spend about triple of what I will.


This will allow me to play with people I consider human beings (for the most part), and it will segregate the vast majority or human fecal matter into the free to play server.