Posted by Raine Hutchens on May 10, 2012

Will The New Elder Scrolls MMO Go Free To Play?

An analyst for Gamesbrief seems to think that the upcoming Elder Scrolls MMO that’s being developed by Zenimax will launch being subscription-based, though it will eventually transition into Free To Play. Nicholas Lovell is that analyst, and he bases his claim off of where the current trend of the MMO market is headed. It won’t happen because of the game’s failure, but rather the natural order of the market.

I honestly can’t say I’m on one side or the other when it comes to subscription fees. I play both World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic and I believe you get what you pay for. When it comes to MMO games there’s a lot more put into them then what a lot of gamers think. To keep the game running companies need to employ GMS, get funding in order to create patches and new expansions, and help tune up the PVP or endgame element of the title. If your game doesn’t have enough content, charging a subscription fee is useless and insulting. If your game doesn’t have a subscription fee, the amount of content eventually reaches a cap. On top of this, you’ll most likely see microtransactions.

I think that Free To Play games have their place in the industry, don’t get me wrong. I love Team Fortress 2, Ultimate Monday Night Combat, and even Lord of the Rings Online. Each of these games seems to put the Free To Play model to work, and it keeps them afloat.  Whether they secure income from microtransactions, donations, or just offering a subscription item, the games do well on their own.

Back to what Lovell said, “It’s conceivable that Bethesda will launch with a subscription service to attract the early adopters, because that’s the model they understand. They will switch to Free To Play later, in the same way many iOS games go from paid to freemium over their lifetime.” The model is believable, and he’s not pulling these facts from thin air. Whether subscription-based games are dying out or not, we can’t really say. I know I’m still having plenty of fun with WoW and SWTOR, though the latter seems to be hitting a rough spot. Blizzard has kept WoW alive for years, and the game’s still got a dedicated player base. I don’t think that making The Elder Scrolls Online release with a subscription will be a bad thing, as long as the developer works hard to deliver to their fans. What do you think?


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