The Elder Scrolls Online will be free to play and fans are not happy.
In a surprise announcement yesterday, ZeniMax Online Studios (ZOS) revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online is changing its business model from “pay to play.” This announcement comes as quite a shock to the ESO community who has supported the game since its inception, and has for the most part been in favor of the P2P format. Matt Firor, Game Director, had stoically defended the P2P model in the past, explaining:
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 Fans Are Not Happy
So by moving towards a different business model, does this mean that ZOS is now willing to make sacrifices and changes to the game at the expense of the fans? The ESO Community apparently thinks so. On the official forums, posters are overwhelmingly unhappy with the announcement — some even despondent. As a player with the name DireKit puts it:
As you can see from the response coming from the Community, this is not a welcome change. Zenimax, you suck. Incredibly disappointed in what you have done and what you are doing.
Just.. very sad and very disappointed.
Speculation is running rampant that a change from the P2P business model will ruin the game. Baumlaus writes:
It is, sadly, not surprising at all but still heartbreaking ;( I loved playing this game and like many others, i already have to talk in past tense.
Goodbye TESO because this is how you become another forgotten Free2Play MMO
The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Free To Play… Sort Of
On the Skyrim Fansite, we discussed the pros and cons of both the “pay to play” and “free to play” business models in our 2013 article It’s Official: Elder Scrolls Online Cost Is $14.99 Per Month. By moving away from a P2P model, the fear is basically twofold:
- That ZOS will no longer support the game to the level the Community expects, and
- That immature, non-serious players will pollute the Community and simply pay their way to the top, ruining the game’s economy, immersion, and scale.
While the fears listed above are real, ZOS isn’t completely turning The Elder Scrolls Online into “free to play.” Yes, players will no longer have to pay a subscription fee to play ESO, and yes, the game is being re-branded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, but players will still need to:
- Purchase the game initially (a barrier to non-serious players), and
- Pay $14.99 a month if they want the “ESO Plus Premium Membership” package, necessary for all future downloadable content, in-game Crown Store, etc. (providing the funds necessary for ZOS to support the game at a high level).
This F2P/P2P hybrid is more of a “buy to play” model, that apparently has worked with other MMORPGs (SWTOR for example). Some fans are hopeful that such a business model will work. On the forum thread for example, Bloodfang writes:
This doesn’t sound bad at all.
Sub + B2P Model.
The only ones who are going to get screwed and charged more are the ones who won’t subscribe. I can already see each update being 20€+ if you are not subscribed.
Honestly I don’t think we’ll get less updates, probably just more. Gonna wait and see what happens to ESO.
So where do you stand in regards to the recent announcement? By changing its business model, will ESO be ruined as some on the forums speculate? Are the fears overblown? Now that The Elder Scrolls Online will be free to play, where do you stand? Share your thoughts in the Speak Your Mind Section below.