Elder Scrolls Online: The Game To Turn Them All… Away

Elder Scrolls Online

Gaming company Bethesda have recently been updating audiences on their latest major venture, Elder Scrolls Online. The online multi-player version of the Elder Scrolls series, which encompasses popular titles such as Skyrim and Oblivion, has been eagerly awaited by many gamers for many, many months, with the games genesis being 5 years prior to its formal announcement in May 2012. However, as more details surface about the game, due for release in spring 2014, it seems that previous fans are becoming less and less enthused with Elder Scrolls Online.

Elder Scrolls OnlineThe storyline of Elder Scrolls Online is said to be set 1000 years before the events of previous game Skyrim, and shows Daedric Prince Molag Bal as the main antagonist for the games events. From the characters previous appearance in Elder Scrolls games, many people are suggesting this will provide a dominant theme of vampires and demons, alongside the presence of dragons, similar to the events of Skyrim. The game is currently in Beta, with an invited selection of users currently testing the available quests and massive online factions, which battle for the title for the Emperor of Tamriel. For those less well versed in Elder Scrolls terminology, Tamriel is the world, Skyrim and Oblivion continents within it, and Deadric Princes the Gods worshipped by various characters in Tamriel. It is perhaps easy to see why Elder Scrolls has become such an all-encompassing and complex series.

On the surface there is much excitement for the release of Elder Scrolls Online, with its availability on Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC and Mac meaning that gamers can connect up and play with their friends regardless of console. However there is a limit to this, as it has been revealed that computer users will be hosted on a separate set of servers to games console users.

This restriction is coming as a minor setback for players compared to the business side to Elder Scrolls Online. It has been confirmed that the online game will work on a monthly subscription basis, at a chunky cost of £9.14 a month. Whilst this is not a final pricing on the game, it comes as quite a disappointment to Elder Scrolls fans. The single-player game Skyrim had a retail price of £30 on PC and £45 on Xbox when it was first released, so when compared with Elder Scrolls Online, users would pay a similar amount in just over 3 months for the privilege of playing with your friends. Not only is the monthly subscription, allocated for the cost of running servers and adding new content, over-priced, but to initially buy the game costs a ridiculous £37: More than the cost of the entire single-player Skyrim game.

Elder Scrolls OnlineMany fans of the Elder Scrolls series have been surprised and upset by the decision to make the game subscription based, as this proves a very expensive game in the long run, not to mention any possible perks and extra content which could cost users more to simply keep up with other players. Again whilst Bethesda have assured players that the subscription based payment will allow for new content every 4-6 weeks, the closed Beta has left many gamers in the dark and questioning if Elder Scrolls Online will be worth their money, and whether the creators have gotten a bit too interested in the contents of their PayPal.

A simple and widely accepted way to solve this would have been to make an open Beta, so that everyone can have a chance to try before they eventually buy. To be invited to test the close Beta of Elder Scrolls Online, applicants had to complete and questionnaire, which included questions on factions for other games, implying a change in target audience compared with previous Elder Scrolls games. This could also be connected with the inclusion of subscription fees, as players who are heavily invested in massive online games are more likely to accept the monthly fees than gamers who play games with just a fee for the game, which includes players of all the previous Elder Scrolls releases. Similar online games such as League of Legends have trialed similar prices to the ones proposed in Elder Scrolls Online in the past, but all have failed to keep a consistent amount of players, with the exception of World of Warcraft.

Another option to entice players would have been to make Elder Scrolls Online free-to-play, but employ micro-transactions; payments for perks and special content which users choose to invest in. Elder Scrolls already has a huge fan-base, and many thought that Bethesda would realise this and choose to make a free-to-play game, as an online version has been begged for years. The game series has already proved a very profitable venture, with over 11 million units of the Skyrim game, and over 4 million copies of it’s predecessor, Oblivion.

Whilst Elder Scrolls Online still has a few months before the anticipated release, it seems the creators have been the bearer of disappointing news to their longstanding fans. With a current lack of appeal for the game, apart from showing your friends your house or the funny half-frozen mammoth you found, as well as the format which caters to players who are more experienced in the field of massive multi-player online games, rather than a large portion of Elder Scrolls users who favour the single-player offline format. The lack of emotion and awareness from Bethesda towards their fans has made Elder Scrolls Online a major unreleased blunder, disengaging the very target audience that made the Elder Scrolls such a success for nearly 20 years. With many fans not sticking around to see if it’s worth it.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. So, I just played the weekend beta. Don’t waste your money. This was not the elders scrolls anyone who has played oblivion or morrowind will recognize or like.

    • Louise Egan

      I haven’t played it yet, but I’ve been waiting for so long and have said so many times I wish they’d make a multiplayer, but the cost alone makes it not worth it for me, and I’m sure a lot of the teenage/student audience are in the same boat. Glad to know that someone who has actually played the Beta holds the same opinion though, the screenshots I’ve seen look nothing like the previous games like you say. If it was free to play like many longstanding Elder Scrolls fans wanted it would do better when released, but I think a large chunk of people have been put off. Thanks for reading my article!

    • From what I have heard, this hasn’t changed nearly ten years on and multiple new releases. If anything it’s gone more toward a cash grab.

  2. j ranter

    This all looks good. I can see that the end game is pretty much going to be PvP. Here’s why: Guilds battle it out for Emperor. In order to make this relevant, a good part of the player base needs to be in a guild so that they have some skin in the outcome. Lots of players eschew guilds for a lot of very good reasons. So how do you get players who might not normally think that PvP is in any way important to them, say, crafters, who just like to gather and craft? In most MMOs, key crafting materials drop only in raids or dungeons. But here, crafty ZeniMax has really put it to crafters where it hurts: Be in a guild or don’t get to sell your stuff. But even better: Be in a guild that holds a piece of the cake and sell to everyone. So being in a successful, PvP oriented guild is going to matter to crafters. Suddenly, the economy is based on PvP in a relevant way.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how this all goes down.

  3. Can’t wait to try it. There are people who are utterly convinced that the world revolves around them, so they want to see MMO’s fail because they don’t like MMO’s – they want everybody else to hate them because they hate them.

    • Louise Egan

      I have not met a person like that, seems very negative. I don’t see how people can hate MMO’s, just that Elder Scrolls online from what is available at the moment seems too bogged down in big factions, doesn’t have the look or feel that previous Elder Scrolls players will enjoy (see person above who has actually played the closed Beta), and is darn expensive for what it is. If that was a comment directed personally at me you’re mistaken, I enjoy MMO’s like Guild Wars, which appreciate their players in both cost and entertainment.

  4. I’m a Elder Scrolls fan though so I will buy it and play it for 1-2 months until it becomes boring like every MMO has for me since 2008.

    • Louise Egan

      I would feel the same if in the 1-2 months of playing I’d end up spending about £55. I really wish they’d made open Beta just so I can get over the need for co-op Elder Scrolls. Thanks for reading 🙂

  5. Doug Fleming

    Everytime I read news about ESO I keep thinking about how so many people (myself included) wanted multiplayer / coop in Skyrim.

  6. I’m not a huge fan of the MMO structure, but I keep trying them as they come out, half-hoping that one comes along to change my mind. (I say “half” because in the long run I’m probably better off not getting too drawn into one.)

  7. Ramon Hale

    Easily one of the worst MMORPGs I’ve played in the last 5 years. It doesn’t even grab me with it’s feature list which is usually where MMORPGs excel and then never deliver(of late) but this one takes the cake. Most boring, non immersive experience I’ve ever had in a video game. Even worse than all those eastern F2Ps.

  8. This game isn’t the worst MMO I’ve ever played but right now, it’s really boring. The controls are so bad… I don’t understand why games can’t get this simple thing right. If you want us to play 4 hours here and there you may want to make the one thing we do the most very enjoyable. Unfortunately, they made it as annoying as every other MMO after WoW… same problems as Warhammer, Conan, Rift, SWTOR, GW2, and so on. I quit WoW when it became a boring grindfest and alt game. But it still after 10 years has the best gameplay mechanics over any MMO and a lot of single player games too!! Tera is the only game that comes close to having good gameplay, but then it has the worst possible questing environment.

  9. All I can is I can’t wait. For me its well worth the wait.

  10. REi-REi

    I’m being incredibly petulant and immature. But I signed up for beta on day one of solicitations and have heard nary a peep. So, pftttttttttt. I don’t care. I’ve unsubscribed from the emails even. How dare a faceless entity reject me, lord of MMO’s and the best thing to ever happen to gaming? HOW, I ask?

  11. I’ll stick to Guild Wars 2. I expect this MMO to be one giant bug fest, I’d rather they just made their regular games.

  12. Sean Hodges

    Well, this seems unfortunate, as I was looking forward to this. However, if it’s as expensive as all that, I’ll have to give it a pass, as I can barely afford to buy games that AREN’T subscription-based right now!

  13. I personally wish that they would just stick to creating large immersive single player games. I get the appeal of interacting with others, but for me at least having the world to myself in Skyrim and Oblivion was part of the fun.

  14. The idea of Elder Scrolls online sounded so promising! It would be great if the game could continually update to keep the experience from getting dull. But those fees are very off putting.

  15. J. Bryan Jones

    Sounds like the argument you make in your title is for the existing Elder Scroll fans and not newcomers to the genre or series, yes?

  16. I played the beta for only a few hours before becoming bored. Its a MMO, and that is all there really is to it. It feels like Skyrim, but with a bunch of other people running around doing all the same “important” things you are doing. You are very correct that their payment model is pretty horrible, and it is widely anticipated that the game will go Free to Play within a year after it comes out, or it will simply lose the small player base that is willing to pay such a high cost.

  17. I agree that the cost will probably put a lot of people off. Hopefully that’s something that won’t last after Bethesda sees weak enrollment numbers. That being said, what I see happening is either a free to play model or significant community backlash against the series. Either release a free to play version or adapt the game to be played offline as well as a mmo.

  18. I think the Elder Scrolls online is a decent MMO, but it isn’t a very good Elder Scrolls game. There’s no sense of exploration that the single player games have. It’s a bit hard to take the story seriously when there are thousands of “chosen ones” all playing simultaneously.

  19. I also played the ESO beta a few weekends ago and was a bit disappointed (however, it’s a major improvement from the beta experience I witnessed three months ago). I am still willing to give this a try upon release though, simply because I was unable to dedicate enough time to truly give the game a chance, since beta can only be accessed on designated weekends. I feel like ESO will just be a fun, temporary game to play, if only to keep me busy until something better comes out.

  20. Usually, you get what you pay for. I suspect it’s going to come together as a great game (I don’t really think a beta test is a fair way to judge a game anyway… I mean, it’s a BETA TEST after all). Alternatively, if it sucks people will stop paying and they’ll probably switch over to a subscriptionless or free-to-play model.

  21. I don’t understand why they didn’t opt for a system, like you suggested, where you pay for extra perks, instead of the monthly subscription fee. Their decision to charge monthly has made me decide not to even worry about ESO, and, instead, continue playing Skyrim. I do understand there is the potential for a change, and, I hope, that there is a lack of willing participants, and that changes their minds causing them to drop the monthly subscription fee and adopt the superior extra-perk system.

  22. Patrick Williams

    Interesting perspective. Having played MMO’s since the mid to late 90s, the monthly surcharge has never been a factor. The better MMO’s I’ve played would consume significant amounts of time that in fact I would save money from not having to purchase a new game every week. I respect your perspective regarding subscription fee, but from my experience the game itself is lackluster. The game is visually bland, the combat is fundamentally flawed from a MMO perspective, and the interface is clunky. MMORPG’s by their nature are meant to be complex, ESO attempts to simplify everything to make it accessible for the console market, a mistake that will cost them dearly.

  23. From a business perspective, it’s very clear why Bethesda has implemented this subscription model. They have very high costs of production and are unwilling to cut those costs because it would mean compromising on the scale of the content they can include. My guess is the subscriptions will remain in effect for one year at maximum, giving way to a traditional purchase-only model.

    They are banking on the hardcore Elder Scrolls fans and the hardcore MMO fans to be early adopters and pay the subscription fees, so they can recover a significant portion of the costs. Prudent gamers will wait and play the game at a substantially lower price, assuming the game is compelling enough to retain its appeal for that long.

  24. I have also been disappointed by what Elder Scrolls Online is shaping up to be. I was enthusiastic about the game to begin with because I love Skyrim, and have always wanted to be able to share that sort of experience with someone in game. I expected that ESO would provide that, but when I watched beta footage it seems like the game has lost much of the distinct Elder Scrolls feel (in terms of gameplay), and has picked up an atmosphere and gameplay experience that looks a lot more like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. The subscription fee is also concerning. World of Warcraft gets away with its fees because the game is extraordinarily well put together. WoW has worked out all the minutiae of running a game that is fun, complex, and accessible. I don’t want to be returned to the days of trying to find functional pick up groups for dungeons, when I could be using the myriad tools that WoW already has in place to jump into the game and enjoy myself.

    I’m eager to see how Elder Scrolls Online does at launch. Hopefully it can exceed our expectations.

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