news\ Aug 21, 2013 at 9:35 am

The Elder Scrolls Online requires monthly subscription


Bethesda's highly anticipated MMO The Elder Scrolls Online will require a monthly subscription, developer Zenimax Online confirmed.

Speaking to Gamestar, Zenimax president Matt Firor explained that the flat monthly fee will allow the studio to make "the game we set out to make." By not charging, Firor acknowledged they'd have to make "sacrifices."

"We're building a game with the freedom to play - alone or with your friends - as much as you want," Firor said. "A game with meaningful and consistent content - one packed with hundreds of hours of gameplay that can be experienced right away and one that will be supported with premium customer support.

"Charging a flat monthly (or subscription) fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play," he defended. "Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren't willing to make."

As is standard practice, you'll get the first 30 days free when you purchase The Elder Scrolls Online, but after that you'll be required to pay $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 per month. Although, if you choose to purchase multiple months at a time, you can "expect some discounts."

"The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want," Firor continued. "We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play.

"The Elder Scrolls Online was designed and developed to be a premium experience: hundreds of hours of gameplay, tons of depth and features, professional customer support - and a commitment to have ongoing content at regular intervals after launch. This type of experience is best paired with a one-time fee per month, as opposed to many smaller payments that would probably add up to more than $14.99/month any way," he concluded.

Zenimax hopes to release new content every four to six weeks, although the exact schedule has not yet been finalized.

It's certainly a risky move, given the shaky status of the MMO market. Many MMOs -- Star Wars: The Old Republic being the most recent example -- begin with this traditional pay-to-play model; however, once subscriptions fall, they wind up going free-to-play anyway. It's a lot to require someone to pay $15 a month to play a game, especially when there are so many free-to-play competitors out there, many of them matching the quality of the pay-to-play ones. The Elder Scrolls Online now faces an uphill battle in convincing players to pay monthly to play.

At one time, free-to-play was seen as a business model for second tier MMOs, but now it's the go-to method for many MMOs. Guild Wars 2 for example, only requires a one-time up-front fee, but then provides bi-weekly content updates for absolutely free. Zenimax will have to really justify the cost of a monthly fee for updates that could take double that time to release.

Are you willing to pay monthly for The Elder Scrolls Online?


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