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.

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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.

Discussion

317 comments
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.

xmostx
xmostx

What's funny is people speaking of WoW/SWTOR as if they came up with anything in the MMO genre.


Everquest/EQ2 defined 90-95% of what an MMO is and includes MUCH more content/features than any other MMO I've seen to date. WoW just made the genre accessible to a lot more people without expensive PC's due to cartoony graphics/simple gameplay.


I have played many games over the years, EQ2/City of Heroes/Villians/Guild Wars/WoW/Eve/Age of Conan/SWTOR/DC Universe/Aion. Probably more...point is I've experienced ALL of those mentioned except Eve to end-game(max lvl).


I absolutely love TES Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim. I loved the KOTOR series. Mass Effect series...outstanding.


I've played TESO in beta since September of last year...what's driving me away is that combat reminds me so much like the one in Age of Conan..minus the combos. Subconsciously though I think i'm hating on it because I like my Elder Scrolls single player...just like I liked my Knights of the Old Republic.


The number one issue with online vs single player games is basically you're a sheep in a herd of thousands. You follow a set quest path, pick certain skills/gear and you become a more effective sheep...all under the push of other sheep rushing you along telling you how you should play YOUR character.


Long story short, I will not be buying this game right now...or maybe not in the future. I think it's refreshing to go back and play my single player Fallout/Elder Scrolls/DA/Mass Effect RPG's. Games where I can take my time, enjoy my character being key to what happens around me and the almighty button that not a single MMO has...the pause and save button.


The price is irrelevant right now...the genre as a whole needs a change before I'm excited about another MMO. I said initially I would get it and couldn't wait for beta...but then it just hit me that every MMO is the same...FTP or sub based. It takes a lot of work...a lot of doing things that are unfun, dull, repetitive time sinks...just so I can smell that carrot on the stick a bit longer.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

The inherent problem with the F2P model is that it gives an advantage to those with the most disposable income. In a subscription based game, everyone who can afford to play, is afforded the same advantages.

You know what's worse, though, than releasing a new title as F2P? Releasing it as subscription based, then switching to F2P.

Why you ask? Because those people who paid subscriptions, and purchased pre-orders for $60 a pop, are now being told that their investment is virtually worthless.


It would be like paying for exclusive access to get into a club for 25 minutes, then they open the doors to everyone for the rest of the night. Sound appealing?

famouswolfe
famouswolfe

To everyone bitching about F2P, get over yourselves! Quit acting like the PC MASTER RACE bastards that Console gamers make us out to be. We PC Gamers need to stick together. Anything that lowers the bar of entry and makes an MMO more accessible to more people is a good thing, please let us not act like elite snobs. Just because a game goes F2P doesn't automatically make it trashy. Hate to break it to you but WoW is a game with outdated graphics, is full of idiotic teens and young adults that ruin the fun, and has very stale gameplay. But I'm sorry, the Blizzard fanboys can't say anything besides "PANDAS ARE KEWL." Honestly the only game that's even worth the subscription anymore is FF14:ARR, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. 


Now, take for example F2P games like Guild Wars 2. It's great game with gorgeous graphics, a great dedicated vibrant community, and to boot it doesn't have a subscription fee you only pay once for the game itself and that's it. I realize that GW2 isn't everyone's game, fortunately there's also SW:TOR, RIFT, Wildstar, and plenty of others. Just because a game has a cash shop doesn't make it crappy. In fact, any self-respecting MMO won't allow you to pay-to-win, they'll only sell you cosmetic upgrades or XP boosters, hardly a pay-to-win scenario. Unless you're playing Alliance of Valiant Arms, holy hell that game is so pay-to-win it's not even funny. But those games are the exception, not the rule. 

In conclusion, pay Square Enix or Blizzard or whatever company your monthly fee if it helps you sleep at night. Just don't judge the rest of us if we feel we can still have the same amount of fun for free. 

coppersloane
coppersloane

F2P communities are always trashy. Ghetto. And cash stores are trashy too. I don't do nickel and diming. If they go F2P I'm uninstalling it. I don't keep trash on my hard drive.

xyrianne
xyrianne

I will gladly be subscribing to TESO long term and am thrilled that they are using that system. WHY? Because for me the F2P model would ruin the experience. Yes, in F2P I can eventually grind up everything that is available in the cash shops, but in the meantime I'm hugely behind other players who have plunked down credit cards. This means I have to start the endless task of grinding gold so I can buy those items from those same cash shoppers, who only become more OP from my purchases and begin to control the player economy. The game stops being fun and becomes a job in which I do boring and repetitive tasks like killing the same mobs for days on end (almost as if I'm working for the cash shoppers for slave wages) just so that I can remain behind and grow much more slowly as I buy a fraction of the goods and equipment they have in abundance. 


By making it subscription, there are no players who will be able to spend vastly stupid (ie thousands) of dollars in the first week, become instantly OP and over stocked with goods, and ruin the game. Everyone playing will have an equal chance of becoming powerful and competing in the PVP, because your growth will be based on game skill and play time, and choices as far as build. I will not have to choose between strictly doing things to grind out gold as opposed to playing an Elder Scrolls game as what it is meant to be...... an environment in which I can choose to do whatever appeals to me at the moment. I can choose the most entertaining aspect instead of always pursuing the most profitable one. It is after all, a game, not a job.


In F2P, the game devs are counting on you getting tired of this problem, and know that most people will eventually spend money. The fact that the F2P has become so popular with the game companies themselves is that overall, a "Free to Play" game makes more revenue (ie costs MORE) overall than a subscription game does. Maybe not for everyone, true. But those that don't pay up are held back, and those that do moderately experience limited perks and even after investment still can't begin to compete with the cash shop trolls. I have ended up spending a reasonable about of money in every F2P game I have played. Yes I enjoyed them, and no I don't begrudge it. But it also has never really helped my progression and just gave me a nice small perk or two, like a mount. It will be nice to be in a game with a more level paying field for a change, and I applaud TESO for doing it.


Some other problems with F2P games is that they generally have terrible customer service and slow or no content updates. The more successful an MMO is, the more it costs to maintain it. Server space, bandwidth, customer service representatives and programmers writing new content aren't free. Sure TESO is asking for a monthly fee, but they have stated that they are planning DLC sized content updates regularly. Hopefully they follow through with that and their statements that customers won't be dealing with unresponsive service departments. If they do, I will be more than happy to pay monthly sub fees not only for myself but my boyfriend also.  


$15 a month is NOT a huge expense folks! That's about the price of a movie ticket, soft drink and box of popcorn. And then you're entertained for an entire 2 hours, but only if the movie happens to be good. For $15 spent on TESO I get 30 days of entertainment, in which I can do and be anything I want to. Seems well worth it to me.   

Aeondeity
Aeondeity

"according to Nicholas Lovell, founder of game consultancy firm Gamesbrief."

So... there's no actual evidence. 

Just a predication by an analyst who has no input from the actual game developer to back it up.


Sabinsnake
Sabinsnake

I'll believe it when I see it, until then, i'm gonna play Final Fantasy XIV ARR instead.

GR1PZILLA
GR1PZILLA

Morrowind, oblivion and skyrim... I loved and played all of them on 360 console! I was over the moon when i heard they were doing an mmo version. Now although i have every faith they will make another brilliant game, I have no faith in monthly subscription and it comes down to a very simple reason. GREED! I will stop buying this franchise due their recent announcement because the whole reason a console is there is for ease of use. I just want to pay one price and be able to play unrestricted. If that means paying a higher price so be it. But as we already know most games will be £60... a £20 hike  from previous console. As far as i'm concerned, that should be it for you developers. Instead you expect gamers of various earning abilities, to pay £60 (game) then probably around the same for add ons £60, and a monthly subscription of £8.99 to top off the overpaid execs that have invaded the industry. Which adds up to £227.88 for one year on one game and after spending on the console itself already..... You are taking the piss and the worst thing is there are idiots out there that don't understand the term value for money! Once you agree to pay the subscription do you think other developers won't adopt this tactic. Your fooling yourself

strothers101
strothers101

The elder scrolls has always been, for me, about an adventure . An adventure which I can personalize and recreate at my will. Paying monthly for this experience seems hurried. Constantly having to sink money into this will change how I play the game, I'll be more hurried and less inclined to deviate from the set path. Time is money .

Sinedos
Sinedos

u are rong , the consoles dont support a p2p system if, so mos like if this game will be realised even for the consoles it will be a btp

turkey39470
turkey39470

When it's free to play I'll buy it for sure.

kalgert123
kalgert123

Hmm...Free to play...I kind of like the sound of that, now I also see people saying "Ugh, this should be Buy to play..." And I have to disagree a bit there.

Think about it: You have a game that is free to play, people are bound to look at it and decide to give it a try, if they like it, they will most likely put some money in to it to support the company, if they don't, then they will probably not play and not pay, The only thing you lose is a few players and like...What? A few dollars or so? Also I will say that Buy to play is a bit of a horrible marketing route, because if someone buys a game, doesn't like it, then the person won't be all that happy since he most likely got burned (Take a look at Defiance's first few days/weeks) or feels like he got burned, and no don't tell me "GUILD WARS 2!" Because I think that game is....Really dull, I mean if it was more interactive than WoW, then why must I spam buttons to attack? Why can't I press my mouse button to attack and not have to go with pressing 1 all the time

So I do hope this does go down the Free to play route and not the Buy to play route, because let's be honest: We don't know how it will be, and I don't think people are looking to buying a game that isn't gonna be so spectacular...And no I am not a person that follows the hype like a robot

Edit: For people who say "Oh I would rather pay a Sub", well you can pay as you go, that could be your subscription than having the game drain your credit card every month

Yeah...Pay as you go....Sounds a lot better than having a credit card being sucked up by a game

halestrom88
halestrom88

i would rather pay a sub as long as the price matches the quality i would still be playing wow if it were say 5-7 a month instead of 15 

Judas_III
Judas_III

I hate being sold stuff in game for real money.

It bugs me. I quit GW2 cause it was so annoying

I prefer a monthly sub, and no ads to buy product. I get enough of that BS on TV

kimeriderf
kimeriderf

From FAQ.

What payment model willThe Elder Scrolls Onlineuse?

We have not yet announced the business model for The Elder Scrolls Online. When we do, we'll be sure to share the news on our website and official Facebook and Twitter, so stay tuned!

duden00
duden00

I wish this game free to play or buy to play, but please don't with month payment.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

I would pay annually for a game that had actually innovative features such as player made kingdoms and factions, player-driven quests, player run market, player built towns, and open world PvP.  Unfortunately the one game that has all this, EVE, is a nightmare to learn.

Greyfeld
Greyfeld

Been hearing this "paid subs are dying" tripe for a couple years now, and every time I hear it, I can't help but think, "Wow, this person has no god damned clue how consumerism works."

Tafiir
Tafiir

I will never buy a pay-to-play game (such as WoW), but I would gladly pay 100$ (plus 20$ for expansions) once for the ESO game that has no subscription fees and hidden money-grabbing hooks.

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.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

@famouswolfe  The real problem is that not all F2P models are executed the same. Some companies take a fair and balanced approach. Other companies lock you down so hardcore that you're only able to scratch the surface of the game before breaking open your wallet.

Then, there is the matter of balanced PvP in F2P games. It doesn't exist. The people who win in PvP are usually the ones who've spent the most money to obtain powerful items with which you simply cannot compete. Let me tell you, it's a ton of fun to get steamrolled right out of the gate in a PvP match by some spoiled, rich kid who's father decided it was a good decision to stick him in front of a computer instead of letting him earn some street credit.


Again, there is no umbrella statement that covers all F2P games. Some companies are exceptionally greedy with the model (yes, I'm looking at you EA), while others are very reasonable, and still allow gamers to experience the game without feeling like they are going to need to skip a few meals in order to get access to the same content as their friends.

famouswolfe
famouswolfe

@coppersloane  Your logic is astounding. So according to what you're saying, an inferior game with outdated graphics and a community chock full of prattling teenagers that spout stupidities in chat is still better just because you have to pay a monthly fee? Because that's exactly what WoW is. On second thought, good go ahead. Delete EOS if it goes F2P. We don't need/want elitist snobs like you around :-)

famouswolfe
famouswolfe

@xyrianne  But why would I pay $15-$20 for a night at the movie theatres when I could go to the matinee, pay much less than what I would normally, and wouldn't have to deal w/ the crowds or when stupid people insist on talking throughout the movie? In other words, why would I pay $15/month when I can play a fun game for free? You have a valid point, some MMOs (Alliance of Valiant Arms I'm looking at you) do have this nasty habit of rewarding those that spend money vs those that just play. But any decent self-respecting MMO such as Rift or Guild Wars 2 doesn't do that, you still have to actually play the game to get the best gear. And before you complain about buying in-game currency with real money, every MMO has that problem (WoW, Eve, FF14:ARR, every single MMO has gold-sellers).

Another problem is that if I'm not a hardcore player that plays everyday, I'm wasting money. Going back to your movie analogy, that's like me showing up an hour late to my movie. I've paid full price for my tickets/popcorn/drink yet I'm only going to see half the movie, probably not understand the plot, and still deal with the hordes of people there. A free to play MMO is great for people like me that typically play just on the weekends when we have more time. 

Once again, nothing wrong w/ WoW, Eve, FF14:ARR or any game that you have to pay a sub to play. Just saying, free to play isn't bad either. Depends on the person and their individual needs.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

@Aeondeity  Right? They tried really hard to make this sound like it was ZeniMax revealing this information.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

@GR1PZILLA  You think F2P would be cheaper than that? F2P is likely to cost you 2-3x the amount up front. Maybe you have that kind of disposable income sitting around. Personally, I'd rather not shell out $300 in a couple of months, as opposed to $180 over 12 months. Maybe that's just me.

Enundr
Enundr

@kalgert123  pressing 1 all the time? im sry the only skill set that requires you to press 1 all the time is the engineers grenade kit , a horrible kit mind you , but the rest? no , the rest have skill 1 as auto attack , yes its been getting dull , but your saying some stuff that is far from the truth.

In regards to monthly sub vs a free to play , odds are if they try acting as EA , your account will be INCREDIBLY limited like TOR did. just saying alot of them dont do THAT great of a job in a F2P model and succumb to B2W model instead. 

Enundr
Enundr

@downloadthefile  the one issue with "player made kingdoms" , there is only so much space on 1 planet a kingdom can be made.  now as far as the other stuff , i like the idea for a player run market (iro my first mmo did that as well) , player built towns can be iffy do to my earlier statement , more so change it that players can try owning a house in a city and expand the city a bit , while a player can run for a mayor type position and approve of the city expansion , manage taxes for costs to help expand the city and such.

Now as far as open world pvp , i believe they have that , in a sense. more so i believe its down to being strikly in teh cyrodil region as ppl kill eachother to become the emperor.

The issue is , ppl want all these "open world" buildings they can make at any moment , the problem is spacing , it cant be done on a single planet , unless its an isntanced version. i know when i played EQ2 they did have player housing initially and you more so rent / bought a house and redecorated the interior. that is the thing  that can be done in regards to games on a single planet.

KingEli
KingEli

@Greyfeld Do your research.  The monthly sub model most certainly IS dying.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

@Tafiir  You think F2P isn't full of money-grabbing hooks? I guess you've never played a F2P game very long.

bolizen
bolizen

@famouswolfe Hate on WoW all you like. It's a fun game, and run by a strong business model.

glitchsummers
glitchsummers

@famouswolfe @coppersloane  I'm pretty sure what he's saying isw "I'm to poor to afford saving money and I would rather play mainstream MMOs like WoW" I might check google translate.

jens5301
jens5301

@famouswolfe @xyrianne  If executed correctly a F2P model will make the game better, remember they get money out of the initial purchase of the game too!


I think the model wouldn't be any worse than that in GW2 maybe even less worse.


Besides the ones playing now will have access to the end game gear long before it becomes a problem to them (assuming they play a lot) we're looking at something that could happen in a few years.


Also right now a subscription model will allow them to get more money out of the game and "kickstart" it so they can expand on the concept rather quickly.

GR1PZILLA
GR1PZILLA

@swgemucrush @GR1PZILLA  your totally entitled to your opinion and too be honest if f2p is 2-3 times the amount upfront I still won't be buying it…..value for money is the real issue here as a gamer and this game is not going to be value for money what ever way they price it. I understand mmo's are more expensive to run but thats a problem they're gonna have to solve otherwise there will be less and less people playing the genre (then MMO will stand for minimal multiplayer online). wait and see

turkey39470
turkey39470

@r_ruiz6047 The game still cost money. I have no problem paying $60 for the game, but I can't afford and refuse to pay a monthly subscription to play. Defiance cost nothing per month to play and is doing pretty well. That goes to show that a company can have an online MMO and not have to charge extra to play it.

swgemucrush
swgemucrush

@KingEli @Greyfeld  It's dying because F2P model is more profitable for gaming companies. It's not dying because demand is waning.

The reason subscriber numbers are thinning is because only older games are still using that model. Newer games use F2P because it is much, much more profitable.

Subscription based: 12 months at $15/mo to get $180 per account.

F2P based: Can get $180+ in as little as a day. Considering a lot of the items purchased are consumables, you're almost always looking at a much higher cost of playing the F2P model if you want to get the full experience.

Game companies have caught on. With fewer games on the market that have a subscription based model, of course the numbers are going to start dying. Gamers get bored of the old games that are subscription based, and move on to new ones. It's not because they disliked the subscription based model. It's because the game got stale.

jens5301
jens5301

@snjor @jens5301 @famouswolfe @xyrianne  It sure ain't nice of them, ain't denying that. And I know what your wanting to say here, there ain't many MMORPG's that have a "correct F2P model" I think Guild Wars 2 handled it decently but there aren't any others I can really think of.


Although I stated that F2P makes it better, it was ment in terms of a larger community and if it's handled well then the long term players will not notice the effects.

However it can easily go wrong and make the game total crap, this is something that wouldn't easily happen with the sub fee model.


I guess we all do favor the sub fee model here, it's the most stable and honest model.

(Even me although I did comment in favor of the F2P model but this is assuming it is handled correctly without giving anyone the advantage, if handled wrongly like in most games then I am totally against it!)


If it goes F2P the people who payed subscriptions and pre-ordered should be the ones that are given advantages...

snjor
snjor

@jens5301 @famouswolfe@xyrianneLike someone said earlier, that just gives a big middle finger to people like myself who played beta, and forked out to preorder a collector's edition because now EVERYONE can get it. It's just wrong. Also, name one MMORPG (nothing like LoL, WoT, PVP centric games like that) that has the "correct" F2P model and is any good at all.

snjor
snjor

@GR1PZILLA @swgemucrushThe whole point of an MMO is it constantly and steadily grows with new content.. A single player RPG you only pay once because you can only play it once (metaphorically of course) any new content added will have to be bought again like a separate game. THAT is why MMOs use a pay to play model. Also, don't fool yourself, free to play is more pay to play than pay to play is.

Enundr
Enundr

@duden00 @kimeriderf  Buy to play can be totally better , so much as the "cash shop" that is in with that model type does NOT sell things that give another advantage (yes GW2 actually did that successfully and players that love the game can buy something for themselves that looks cool  but not apply any real stats , while supporting the company). Hopefully they avoid the EA mindset like how TOR is >.>