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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] Elder Scrolls Online: Yes, Virginia, It’s Pay to Play

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16241

OP  8/26/13 6:21:51 PM#1

In the relatively few days since Zenimax announced that Elder Scrolls Online would be a subscription-based game, the talk around the 'Net has been rampant. In our latest ESO column, Garrett talks about why it's time to stop the discussion about the subscription fee and start talking about the game itself. Read on and then head to the comments!

Gameplay is king. If a game is very strong at its core and crosses new ground in the MMO space then people will play it. Whether it is for $15.00 a month or free, or even throwing over $200.00 a month to a cash shop they will still log in every night and do something in that world. It is not so much about price but more about fun. When a really good game comes out do you remember how much you paid for it? Do you think about how much every dollar you spent equates to your level advancement or skill tree? Probably not. That is where the idea of good solid gameplay comes in.

Read more of Garrett Fuller's Elder Scrolls Online: Yes, Virginia, It’s Pay to Play.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/10/04
Posts: 2323

8/27/13 12:02:07 PM#2
It all goes down to the fun factor. If i'm having fun i have no problem paying 15$ a month.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/25/06
Posts: 503

8/27/13 12:06:54 PM#3
I go by whether a game is fun or not, not by the payment model. It's nice thinking there won't be endless payment model discussions but you're dreaming. There are certain topics that get beaten to death daily on these boards, payment models is just one.

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/02/11
Posts: 742

8/27/13 12:32:53 PM#4

I somewhat feel this is totally the wrong way to look at it. Ya sure, as long as the game is good people are willing to pay. However, just how many are we actually talking about here?

Saying money isn't a concern if the game is good, is just simply not true at all. This is the same reason why people don't go out to the store buying the most expensive of what they are looking for. They usually try to get the cheapest or something in between if they are able to.

Of course where it stands, it all comes down to quality. However, there is a point where the difference in quality is so little, that the price doesn't seem worth it, unless you are an enthusiast. ESO from what I have seen doesn't show nearly enough for it to really justify it to cost $60 +$15/month.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/08/08
Posts: 279

8/27/13 12:36:11 PM#5
thank the gods, im sick of the free to play model and getting nikled and dimed along with terrible community's, a sub keeps out the scrubbers and im happy to pay monthly for that.

Playing: WoW, GW2, TSW, Wildstar
Future: EQ3 maybe, loosing faith in this game fast.
Played: Most current and extinct MMO's - 14 Years in....


Novice Member

Joined: 11/22/03
Posts: 25

8/27/13 12:37:43 PM#6
The way they were talking to me is, one of the main reasons they went with a subscription is because that is the only payment method that doesn't "take you out of the game". You pay  your fee and in game, you never see the consequences of them making money. If they had a cash shop and the game was f2p, there would HAVE to be in game shops, popups, etc to get you to spend money so they can keep the game running. To me, thats one good reason to stay with a subscription, because in this instance, how it impacts the game is a positive. The immersion of the world would suffer from this game being F2P. Thats just how I view it anyway. 

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/20/04
Posts: 407

8/27/13 12:47:34 PM#7
If it's a good game.. what's $15 a month? 

Elite Member

Joined: 6/08/03
Posts: 905

8/27/13 12:49:08 PM#8

I think the argument that the game has to be pay-to-play to be quality or not force you to buy things is not a fair one.  Look at Guild Wars 2, for example, or Defiance.  I think the issue that needs to be considered here is "what is this game offering me that the others aren't, and is it worth paying full price and $15 a month for that different aspect?"  Yes, it is about fun first and foremost, but there is also the important factor of competition and don't forget player expectations.  There are many ways to do "free to play" and a variety of hybrid models that have rewarded subscribers while not "punishing" more casual players who don't want to pay full fees for a game they don't regularly get on.


There are a lot of casual gamers coming into the MMO genre, and many adults who have been part of it for over a decade but now have families and other responsibilities that make them play less often.  So, subscriptions are often a reason for those mature gamers to quit playing or avoid starting because they feel like they are wasting money to play 15-20 hours a month.

  User Deleted
8/27/13 12:50:15 PM#9
Right now the only game I play is Skyrim. I bought and payed for the game. I haven't purchased any dlc yet, but I can tell you it's the best money I have ever spent with respect to gaming. Why? It's the most immersive and replayable game and it's just very enjoyable, I was always aagainst non multiplayer games but Skyrim has turned me. You cant have an EOS now with a cash shop messing all of that up. It's going to be a big enough difference having real players in the game with you.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/11/03
Posts: 245

8/27/13 12:53:33 PM#10
People seem to think servers run for free...  If you don't want the product don't buy it, it isn't that hard...  How much a company will charge for a product is their own business and If you aren't willing to pay it, don't.  If enough people do that, they will change their pricing model as so many games already have.

Novice Member

Joined: 6/06/09
Posts: 228

8/27/13 1:01:27 PM#11
Making it pay to play assumes that the game will be good.  Really good.  As good as WoW has been in its own way.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/22/11
Posts: 988

8/27/13 1:19:40 PM#12
Originally posted by Brabbit1987

I somewhat feel this is totally the wrong way to look at it. Ya sure, as long as the game is good people are willing to pay. However, just how many are we actually talking about here?

How many what? People?

Saying money isn't a concern if the game is good, is just simply not true at all. This is the same reason why people don't go out to the store buying the most expensive of what they are looking for. They usually try to get the cheapest or something in between if they are able to.

Of course where it stands, it all comes down to quality. However, there is a point where the difference in quality is so little, that the price doesn't seem worth it, unless you are an enthusiast. ESO from what I have seen doesn't show nearly enough for it to really justify it to cost $60 +$15/month.

There's a cost/benefit analysis that runs in your mind before making any purchase. Is the product you're buying worth the amount that you're willing to spend? You performed that same subjective analysis in your last paragraph.

Here's where I take issue with your post. You assert that people never look for the most expensive whatever-it-is, and they only look for the cheapest products.  That may be subjectively true for you and some others, but certainly not true for most people, and certainly it's not as dumbed down as you try to make it seem.

Most people have a budget set for their purchase, and an idea for what worth you're going to get from that budget. If your budget allows for the most expensive stereo, and the most expensive stereo has every feature you want that the others don't, and a better quality, you're going to get the most expensive stereo. If there's a less expensive model with most of the features you want and reasonable quality, you might decide to save some money and get that. It's all on dependent on that cost/benefit measure going on in your head. What will get you the most value for the money you're about to spend.

That's the point here. It doesn't matter what the price model is. Game boxes are all the same price on release anyway, and whether you pay a sub or buy items from the cash shop, all that truly matters is whether the game is worth that expenditure.

For you, it isn't. On to the next game then.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/19/04
Posts: 774

8/27/13 1:29:17 PM#13
Countdown to the inevitable and embarrassing F2P conversion is on now. I just wonder how the marketing team will try and twist it as a positive thing when it comes to that XD

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/10/07
Posts: 55

8/27/13 1:33:55 PM#14

If I am going to pay a monthly subscription, the game better be complete. To me an MMORPG without:

Housing, Very meaningful Crafting (useful), Slow progression, Well Thought out end game, Extremely Deep Character Customization, and fun PvP and PvE, is not an MMORPG.

GW2, TSW, AoC, Rift does not have all these things, and I would not pay a monthly sub for these games!

WildStar and ESO, I think, has most of these things, and would be worth a monthly subscription, though that is what the free month is for. If after the first 30 days I find the game lacking, I stop paying.

Pay to Play subscription model, your game better be a complete MMORPG!  not just an MMO!


Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 7112

8/27/13 1:35:18 PM#15

I'm really getting tired of this false idea that "if a game is good people will pay outlandish prices for it no matter what".

None of the games that went sub-free are bad, including TOR.  They just couldn't justify a monthly rental bill from their customers.  For me no game is worth renting for $200 a year.  It doesn't matter how deep it is compared to the rest of the herd.

I can get all that depth of play you're talking about for Skyrim for $30 right now.  I pay more for the DLC as it should be.  I can get endless hours of that depth of play without having to pay them more. Why should I rent temporary access to a game at $15 per month?  The game design isn't deep enough and never will be to justify that.

It's not about being better or deep. It's about how much is a game worth.  I can see paying a box fee.  I can see supporting development with extra money through a cash shop and/or DLC content packs.  I can't see renting my games and only being able to play them if I keep paying more.  To me that is the true definition of nickle and diming a customer.

Good luck with your ESO rental version. I'll be watching to see if the p2p crowd will really put their money and "commitment" where their rhetoric lies.


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/25/07
Posts: 825

Make friends not money, then wealth will follow.

8/27/13 1:43:31 PM#16
Originally posted by Zeplini
thank the gods, im sick of the free to play model and getting nikled and dimed along with terrible community's, a sub keeps out the scrubbers and im happy to pay monthly for that.

This is what I told the dervs at gamescom that's why I went along to take a look at the game was because they made it sub based. Glad I did because after reading all the BS from people who know FA it's made me realise that the proof is in the pudding and I played the game three times and had the opportunity to see for my self, its looking and feeling good. I will now drop into beta thanks to one of the dervs taking my details, seemed they were impressed that I travelled from UK to see their game.

Well that's and four others, but don't tell them hey!...




Novice Member

Joined: 10/27/09
Posts: 309

8/27/13 1:54:43 PM#17

Thank you Garret. I've been telling people the same thing. If the game delivers a new, high quality, and FUN experience, people will pay a premium and it will flourish. If they don't, it won't. It's that simple. And while I agree with everything you said, I would add one more point.


They have to knock the three faction AvA (RvR, FvF, whatever you want to call it) out of the park. There is a huge player base from DAoC looking for that next great PvP game. We thought it would be WAR, we were wrong. If it's not ESO, those players will look to Camelot Unchained.


This playerbase is rabid and loyal. If you deliver a high quality PvP experience, you will have a solid base on which to build upon. So, even if the single player ES fans don't take to the game, ZeniMax and Bethesda will have a steady revenue stream upon which to support the game.

Just my 2 pents, take it for what it's worth.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/29/13
Posts: 155

8/27/13 2:16:23 PM#18



I am a big fan of fluff and it seems fluff is slated to be on the cash shop. Others may say it doesn't affect gameplay, I say putting on a funny hat is still gameplay. They may not be targeting your kind of "gameplay," but don't trivialize my idea of fun.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/19/13
Posts: 414

8/27/13 2:26:12 PM#19

"Just a few days after it was announced, I am already sick of all the talk surrounding the price model of Elder Scrolls Online. I do not understand..."

We know you don't understand, you are disconnected from reality and gamers are SICK OF ALL THE MORONIC DEFENSE OF AN OUTDATED PAY MODEL DESIGNED AROUND A LIE.

And I really REALLY love how your article says we should focus on the game yet you do not mention ONE SINGLE thing being spoken about by so many beta testers, the piss poor graphics, the Funcom level of bad animations, the combat limitations and the story that doesn't meet up to TES standards.

So, go on ignoring the FACT that the internet is ablaze by TES fans talking about how they wont pay to play a game they buy and act as if its just MMORPG players that want a free game. Zenimax is missing their target audience you and playing dumb is only going to insure the fact that this game will be another know, that OTHER MMORPG that has massive issues due to blind fandom and ignorant developers.

And no, SWTOR is not doing well, EAs parting CEO admitted to the lies as he walked away to apologies to shareholders, your whitewashing it and not reporting the facts doesn't change the fact that the game didn't have half the subs EA was saying, nor making near what they were claiming.

Face reality, get Zenimax to wake the EFF up to save it from being just another quick money grab fail.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/13
Posts: 121

8/27/13 2:28:44 PM#20
I am happy to pay to play if it keeps a game I am enjoying going. I am trired of the cry baby community of give me something free ruining my gaming experience. I am going to happily pay $30 (2 copies) a month to play this game or any other mmo. The key is that my gaming experience has to be enjoyed.
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