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.
"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.