Zenimax Studios has confirmed that The Elder Scrolls Online will not be free-to-play, but will instead rely on a more traditional subscription based payment model when it launches next year.
Matt Firor, ZeniMax Online’s general manager, broke the news during an interview with GameStar, saying:
“We’re thrilled that gamers are looking forward to diving into The Elder Scrolls Online and we’ve been working hard to deliver the game that fans want – one that’s worthy of the Elder Scrolls name. Choosing the right business model is part of that. We are going with the subscription model for ESO.”
“We’re building a game with the freedom to play – alone or with your friends – as much as you want. 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. Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make.”
Firor went on to explain that The Elder Scrolls Online will allow players to get on the servers free of charge for the first 30 days after the game is purchased. During that time the buyer will be able to play as much as they want and have unrestricted access to everything in the MMO. Following that introductory period the basic monthly charge will be $14.99/€12.99/£8.99, although players may be able to reduce that rate by purchasing multiple months at a time.
The MMO market is a hard nut to crack into, and in recent years it has proved to be nearly impossible to successfully sustain anything in that gaming space that is not free-to-play. While it is certainly possible that Zenimax has discovered the perfect formula that will allow The Elder Scrolls Online to succeed where other subscription based MMOs have failed, the odds do not seem to be in their favor.
The Elder Scrolls Online is current scheduled to be released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac sometime in early 2014. We will keep an eye out for any additional information about the upcoming MMO and let you know as soon as there are any updates.