I figured that I should probably write a blog about this one - because it most certainly is deserving of one.
Okay, for those of you who don't know yet (A few other blogs have stated this one already) - The Elder Scrolls Online will be subscription based. That's right - it will be pay-to-play. The source for this appears to be this part of their website, which lists the subscription costs.
However, the help page is the only part of the site that you can find that information.
I'll say that again - the help page is the ONLY part of the site that states that this game will be subscription based.
Nowhere in the news section does it say any thing about the subscription payment method.
It's true, if you look on their Facebook page, you can find a link here that is an article where Matt Firor talks about the subscription based model, but to be fair, one of the very next posts talks about how awesome free-to-play is.
But I digress.
Now, I am a massive fan of the series, don't get me wrong. (Who would make nearly 40,000 edits on a wiki about a game series that they aren't obsessed with?), but I believe that this business model is the wrong one for the game.
From what they said in the article, here's how it will work. Firstly, you buy the game. If it's anything like other games in the series, you're looking at anywhere from 80 to 100 dollars. Then you have 30 days in which to enjoy your purchase. In those 30 days, you can do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING, and its "Free" for those 30 days. Except that you've already paid for it. After that, you need to pay a subscription in order to keep playing.
Now, I can sort of see where they are coming from with the PC users. After all, the developers have stated over and over again that they don't want to be "just another WoW clone". Which is why they are going to be different to them. World of Warcraft at least lets you play some gametime for free.
What I cannot see making any sense though, is for consoles. They say it will be exactly the same cost for both PC and console users.
Which on the surface makes sense, because its the same game, and presumably, a similar experience. However, PC (and Mac) users don't have to pay a fee just to use their computer. Xbox One and PS4 users do. So they are already paying a lot of money just to access the console. Surely you could do what other online-multiplayer games do and have the costs built-in. Buy-to-play is inherent in the Elder Scrolls system. There are millions of us. (We're getting well over a million page visits a day here, even now, when its pretty quiet news-wise). You have the fan-base. We're more than willing to shell out a little bit extra up-front for a great-quality game, like we've come to expect from your subsidiary, Bethesda. Heck, most of us bought the DLC's too. Most of those would be more than happy to pay for those, too.
What's worse though, is not only are you requiring us to pay for what will be "free" for 30 days, but you're outright lying in other areas. The reasoning given for the subscription based system that you are going to use is that you wanted to avoid microtransactions, as it creates an uneven playing field. However, in other articles, you've stated that Microtransactions will be included. So what we have learned this week is that either this is some experiment to see whether fans will accept this system of payment or not, or we are going to have a free game you have to buy, with no microtransactions, but stuff you can buy in-game with real money.
Honestly, you need to start listening to what your fans are saying. They're saying that they're unhappy with the subscription-based method. So, you should either revise it, or, expect it to be a massive failure.
Because guess what? The Elder Scrolls once had a game with a multiplayer element to it. And the developers made a mistake with it. It's reception was, at the time, pretty average. For whatever reason, it was a complete flop. So, don't let this game become another Battlespire. (You remember that one, right? It's the game that allowed you to buy Bethesda in the first place).
In closing - Zenimax, please don't ruin what could potentially be a brilliant game with a model that Elder Scrolls fans are massively unhappy with. Don't force us into it.
Don't be EA. (Sim City being the latest in a long line of games here).
P.s. This article here - What the hell? Bethesda is trying to convince Xbox to drop the price of Xbox gold for elder scrolls online. This is wrong on sooo many levels. First of all, xbox gold is what you pay to use the service that basically allows you to play games online (connects to your achievements, etc). That is for using the xbox system. You can't drop it for just one product - its for ALL products. The fact that they are even trying shows that they are REALLY out of touch (And I suspect that it's probably actually Zenimax, since folks seem to get them confused a lot).
p.p.s. if you're unhappy with Bethesda/Zenimax combo, feel free to tweet Peter Hines (Bethesda's PR Manager) about it. Enjoy