Saturday, January 24, 2015

ESO Goes F2P

I predicted it.  I'm not the only one who did, of course, but I still did.  When "The Elder Scrolls Online" (ESO*) was in beta, there was a lot of speculation as to which MMO model they would choose when they went live.  The gaming blogs were divided.

Some believed they would do the "Free to Play" (F2P) model as it has pretty much been proven (with a few notable exceptions) that the old "Subscription Only" (i.e. "Pay to Play" or P2P) model was going the way of the Dodo.  Others felt that if any title could support the old, antiquated, obsolete P2P model, it was "The Elder Scrolls" franchise.  After all, it does have a huge following and many had been waiting for an MMO version for a long, long time.


I was able to participate in some of the closed Beta** sessions of ESO because Shindurza had an extra code that he gave me.  I had never played any of the previous "The Elder Scrolls" games before; this was my first experience with that title.  And I must say, the game play was good.  It has an interesting story line and interesting characters.  They also have an active combat system that is similar to DDO's - you can fight while you're moving.  This is a big plus, in my book, as it opens up more tactics and strategy than NWO's more, shall we say, "static" combat system.  {Why NWO has a static system is still a mystery to me, especially when other Perfect World/Cryptic games, such as STO, also have an active combat system.  But I digress...}

Since it is a new game ("live" launch date was April 4, 2014), as you would expect, the graphics are quite beautiful.  And they have some incredible voice talent, too:  Kate Beckinsale, Bill Nighy, John Cleese, Lynda Carter {*sigh* she still has such beautiful eyes...}, Michael Gambon, Olivia D'Abo, Malcolm McDowell, Alfred Molina...just to name a few.  They also have some story line plots where you have to make a choice - and your choice will affect your future game play (some characters will react to you differently, based on your choices and I think some quests are affected, as well, but I am not certain of this).

Overall, I enjoyed playing in the Betas.


Well, a few months (I think) before going "live", they announced their model:  you have to pay for the game (it is NOT a free download); on top of that, they would implement the obsolete P2P model.  Oh, they gave quite a dissertation as to why - things like "we don't want to limit our players", "we want the entire ESO world to be open and available", etc., etc.  They also chose to NOT provide a "lifetime subscription" option.  This, too, sparked quite a debate.  Some wanted one, others espoused that "only 'loser' companies like Cryptic use 'lifetime' subs", etc.

On top of that, if you look at their "discount" for pre-paying multiple months, they are laughable.  One month fee:  $14.99 US; 3-month fee:  $13.99 US/month.  Ooh - yeah, nice discount there; one whole dollar US per month savings.  Gee, now I can afford that Rolls Royce I've been eyeing...

I do not pay monthly fees for playing games.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but like many others, I feel that paying a month fee for a game that I may not be able to actually play much during the month is just not something I want to do.  I would much rather (occasionally) pay for new content (or pay for a lifetime subscription), as I equate that to be more like what I have always done with PC games:  You buy a game, you play it; an expansion comes out, you buy that, you play the expansion.  Who cares if you don't play that game for literally months - when you're ready to play it again, you already have it (and you're not paying for the months where you weren't playing it).  But that's me.

However, I am not alone - there are hundreds (probably thousands) of people who have that same (or at least a similar) view.

So, buying the game AND having to pay a monthly subscription fee to play it?  Nope.  That model has proven to be unsustainable.

And now, Zenimax has come to that same conclusion.  On March 17, 2015 (less than one year after launch), ESO will become "The Elder Scrolls Online:  Tamriel Unlimited", a F2P MMO.

'Bout time.  Guess I can finally start playing that game; I'd already bought it.

* Or "TESO", if you prefer - some do.

** I also participated in the open Betas, but I don't think you needed codes for that; it was "open", after all...

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