ZeniMax Online Studios has finally revealed the payment structure for their MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online. Instead of adding another free-to-play game to the market, ZeniMax has decided to go with a traditional monthly subscription.
"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," ESO director Matt Firor told Gamestar. "The Elder Scrolls Online offers unlimited play for the first 30 days with the purchase of the game. The choice is yours to play as much as you want; hundreds of hours of content, PvP, etc - is all there for you to experience with the base purchase of the game.
"If you want to continue playing for hundreds of hours more after that first month you'll pay a flat fee for continued, unlimited access to the game."
The base subscription will be $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 per month. There will also be discounts for players who purchase several months at a time. Game time cards will be offered through retailers. The game itself is priced at $59.99 by Amazon and GameStop.
It's a bit surprising to see ZeniMax choose a subscription-only business model. While subscriptions used to be the genre standard, they've fallen out of vogue lately. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Secret World launched with subs but then switched to free-to-play, microtransaction-based systems to attract more players. Even World of Warcraft, the biggest subscription-required game in existence, seems to be edging toward F2P.
Still, there's nothing inherently wrong with paying monthly fees. Most F2P games offer an optional subscription so that players can get access to all premium content at once rather than buying it a la carte. It's more convenient and, if you're someone who plays a game religiously, it can be ultimately cheaper than buying individual bits of content. A mandatory subscription is also preferable to some players because it means everyone's on a level playing field. There are no boosters or convenience items that wealthier players can buy to get an edge.
ZeniMax will need to convince players to keep playing after their free 30 days are up, though. Firor says they'll do that with regular content updates.
"We are already working on content that will roll out to players after ESO's launch. New quest lines, skills, zones, dungeons -are already in the pipeline. These things, in addition to our end-game content, PvP, and extraordinary customer service, are all part of making sure we're delivering on that premium service - and that the player feels like they are getting their money's worth. We won't know the exact schedule until after ESO launches, but our target right now is to have new content available every four to six weeks."
Elder Scrolls Online is currently in beta on the PC. ZeniMax plans to announce testing details for Xbox One and PS4 early next year. The game will launch on all platforms sometime next year.