PS4 games generally require a monthly subscription for multiplayer but Elder Scrolls Online is an exception. Game director Matt Firor says that PS4 owners won't need a PlayStation Plus subscription to play the MMORPG.
Gamers on that console will still have to pay a subscription specifically for ESO, though. The MMO costs $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 per month. That's the same rate that PC and Mac gamers have to pay.
ZeniMax Online Studios' decision to require a monthly subscription with the game raised a few eyebrows. Free-to-play games are all the rage these days, especially in the MMORPG genre. Many developers have found success with generating revenue solely through the optional sale of in-game items or services. For example, you can buy in-game pets or experience point gains with cash in Guild Wars 2. Even once-prominent subscription-only MMO's like Star Wars: The Old Republic and RIFT have switched over to F2P. The lack of a subscription allows them to easily draw in new players, some of whom then go on to become paying customers.
If you're a PS4/PC/Mac owner who's unhappy with Elder Scrolls Online's subscription, there's a silver lining. It could be worse: you could be an Xbox One owner and be forced to pay the monthly subscription for ESO and Xbox Live Gold:
Xbox One owners probably aren't surprised by this. They need Xbox Live Gold for most entertainment apps, including services like Netflix and Hulu Plus that carry their own subscription. Still, just because something is expected doesn't mean it sucks less.
I realize this is the part where I'm supposed to be like, "PS4 won this round!" I don't really see any winners here, though. I'm just struck by how bad of an idea the monthly subscription for ESO is.
The reason that free-to-play has become so popular among developers is that it creates a low barrier for entry to new players. They can try out the game before they commit any money toward it. By contrast, Elder Scrolls Online requires you to lay out $60 for the game itself, $15 for a month's subscription, and then an additional $5 if you're an Xbox One owner. That's in addition to whatever costs you incurred by either upgrading your PC or buying a next-gen console in order to run the game.
Here's what you're getting for this substantial, up-front investment: an MMO that's only been played by a small number of beta testers who aren't even allowed to tell you what they think about it. Oh, and good luck finding screenshots and videos that weren't officially released by ZeniMax.
I don't need a game to be free-to-play but I'd at least like to have some confidence in my purchase. Confidence is hard to come by right now. ZeniMax only has a few months left to make their case for ESO.