Good gravy, Zenimax must have a lot of money. (Which only fits my firm belief that a company with a name like that is going to be behind the great zombie outbreak.) A sprinkling of their vast coffers has been used to create a very luscious cinematic for The Elder Scrolls Online, featuring your mum as the big baddie. They release this to mark the announcement of an Imperial Edition of the forthcoming MMO, a “premium collector’s edition”, or as I like to call them, The Expensive Ones For Mad People. Except, bloody hell, this game’s going to be expensive for everyone.
Because, blink, the standard version is a touch pricey. £50? For a genre that’s now primarily free? Cor. So that’s like a decade of subscription, right? Nope, that’s 30 days. Before a further £9/€13/$15 (€13 is of course currently worth $17.70 and £10.70, so fuck you, Europe!) monthly tithe. This game costs more than the broadband connection and monthly ISP fee you’ll need to play it.
Fork out £70 for the Imperial Edition, and what do you get other than the same game as everyone else? A whopping 30 days subscription! Indeed, no more access to the game, but rather trinkets. You get to be an Imperial in the game, with an Imperial horse, Imperial gear and a “Mudcrab vanity pet”. The only useful thing in there, unless you particularly want to be playing as an Imperial of course, is the Rings Of Mara – this is a quest for you and a chum to complete, that then gives you experience bonuses when you play together.
Calm yourself down with a very impressive eight minute cinematic:
Charging infinity more than most MMOs, and nearly double a standard PC game, before people can even start playing is going to be the mistake we all look back on. It dealt The Secret World a massive blow, and that was cheaper. I still believe there’s room for subscription models in MMOs, but I don’t think it can be sensibly combined with a whopping great fee to even find out if you want to play it in the first place. That’s where the damage is done. Let people into your game for free, then charge them to carry on. It works for drug dealers. Otherwise, you restrict your customer base to those with a spare £50 to spend to find out if they want to spend far more money to play something… Just crazy. Presumably Bethesda are relying on the breathtaking success of Skyrim, to assume that people are going to pay whatever it takes to get back into the Elder Scrolls’ world.
But don’t let me stop you. You can buy a copy of the game, or its Imperial Edition, right now, before any reviews are out to warn you whether it’s any good or not. Gosh, it’d better be good now, eh? The game is out for reals on the 4th April. Hopefully we’ll be getting our hands on it for a preview nice and soon.