The Elder Scrolls: Online Announces Subscriptions

Elder Scrolls Online adds subscription fee that may be its downfall.

These days a lot of Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games are free to play (F2P) or pay to play. Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) went F2P after it lost thousands of customers this time last year.

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Guild Wars 2 has done quite a lot this year without subscription fees and their predecessor, Guild Wars, went eight years without demanding money from its players. If you want to know everything ArenaNet added to Guild Wars 2 without asking for any money, look here.

Aion, Neverwinter, Age of Wushu, and dozens of other big titles have shown that high-quality games can be created without insisting upon being paid. In fact, these days it is almost a given that MMOs won’t charge every month. Holdouts like Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and World of Warcraft have become the oddities instead of the norm. 

The Elder Scrolls: Online (TESO) announced this week that it will join that minority of MMOs by charging fifteen dollars per month to play. 

Before the announcement of the subscription model, TESO was one of the most anticipated games of 2013. The added cost could increase hype for players who think subscription fees keep away casual players and prove how high-quality a game is, but my suspicion is that it will radically decrease the number of players TESO gets.

I’m not a business person so I can’t be sure how the numbers will work out, but ZeniMax seems to think a box and microtransactions may not be enough to make up the cost of producing the game. I disagree. If SW:TOR taught the game industry anything it’s that great MMOs with a brand behind them still struggle retaining players when they charge subscription fees.

TESO is going to have an issue convincing people to play with or without the fee because of the dramatic change it is making from earlier games in The Elder Scrolls series, so monetizing could create an impossible challenge.

I don’t buy MMOs with subscription fees. I’ll buy to play a wide variety of games, but if a developer is going to charge me every month, then I’m not going to bother with them. I don’t like being monetized mid-game more than any other player, but I’d still prefer a possible cash store over dealing with a company that makes it difficult to unsubscribe when you are tired of a game.

There are so many free to play games of high quality that I don’t need to pay subscription fees. It’s too bad, because I was really looking forward to TESO as an Elder Scrolls: Skryim, Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, and Elder Scrolls: Morrowind lover. Personally, I’m not willing to pay. Only time will tell if others are sick of the fees.


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EmilyOrange
GameSkinny intern, college student, and lifelong nerd.