Hello! Welcome to Bizarro Land. In this reality, I’m British, everyone else is American, my hair is flat and lacking in ambition, Jim hates both snazzy hats and robots, John is an adorable kitten, Adam is very mean and also 100 stories tall, Horace IS FINITE, and Alec is still on parental leave… for a brood of fire-puking spider demons (who strongly dislike repeating game titles over and over and over and Space Hulk). Also, two MMOs announced that they’re embracing the all-but-dead art that is the monthly subscription model in the same week. First it was Wildstar, and now it’s The Elder Scrolls Online. Head below for details while I stop John from spitting up on the rug again.
The game’s first month will be entirely free, after which you’ll have to fork over $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 per month. But why would Zenimax do such a thing when free-to-play’s proven to be the whole genre’s single, fraying lifeline over the couple years? Well, I can’t help but admire the reasoning. Zenimax’s Matt Firor explained to GameStar:
“The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want. We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100 percent access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play.”
“Players will appreciate not having to worry about being ‘monetized’ in the middle of playing the game, which is definitely a problem that is cropping up more and more in online gaming these days. The fact that the word ‘monetized’ exists points to the heart of the issue for us: We don’t want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for – with our system, they get it all.”
I’m not entirely on board with The Elder Scrolls Online, but I can definitely appreciate this mentality. Will it actually lead to a successful, sustainable game? Given that it’s not called World of Warcraft, history says no. And when even Star Wars couldn’t Force Brand Ubiquity its way onto the scene, it doesn’t exactly bode well for, er, anybody else. At all. Ever. But who knows? Maybe people are getting sick of free-to-play. Maybe they’ll welcome a good old-fashioned one-time payment with open wallets. I suppose we’ll see when TESO launches early next year.