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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] Elder Scrolls Online: F2P or P2P? Keeping Hush on the Business Model

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Managing Editor

Joined: 7/28/06
Posts: 2209

OP  4/30/13 5:05:20 AM#1

Zenimax Online has been a bit hush-hush on the business model for Elder Scrolls Online and we're finding this all a bit concerning. Read on and learn why in this week's Elder Scrolls Online column.

It really doesn’t matter how good The Elder Scrolls Online ends up being at launch. Subscriptions, even in their heyday, were always a losing proposition. For one, MMO game design suffered to keep paying players playing by padding out content and utilizing numerous arbitrary time sinks. But for the most part, players were willing to pay, as long as the game was good and could hold their attention. Back then every MMO developer out there was competing for your $15, but in today’s world, they’re really competing for your attention.

Read more of Michael Bitton's The Elder Scrolls Online: F2P or P2P? Keeping Hush on the Business Model.



Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14699

4/30/13 10:05:49 AM#2
Why would anyone pay a subscription for a game they like when there are a lot of games that you can play for free if you're willing to be crippled enough that you won't like them?  The question nearly answers itself.

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 789

This Rabbit stinks!

4/30/13 10:14:51 AM#3
I dont see this being a sub-based game, guessing id say theyll go the B2P business model. But ive come to expect the unexpected from these mmo companies.

Novice Member

Joined: 4/19/13
Posts: 102

4/30/13 10:15:37 AM#4
both TESO and WildStar are P2P.
  User Deleted
4/30/13 10:18:56 AM#5
If you can follow the gw2 model, you have a game that will please many and earn you rep. If I payed 40 and got 6 months of playing time. I will buy another game you make and spend the same. This genre needs to build up some consumer confidence.

Elite Member

Joined: 5/14/09
Posts: 974

4/30/13 10:19:52 AM#6
Originally posted by Quizzical
Why would anyone pay a subscription for a game they like when there are a lot of games that you can play for free if you're willing to be crippled enough that you won't like them?  The question nearly answers itself.

Because F2P games suck and get little development when they are F2P.  Look at DDO and LOTRO, it takes them forever to get expansions and fixes because they do not have the money to pay developers.  For all the bosting about F2P earns you more money than P2P that is not true for all games.  The Truth is only a few F2P games (Mainly P2W games) earn more money than P2P games. 


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4/30/13 10:19:59 AM#7
I suspect it will be B2P like Guild Wars was. 

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Joined: 11/21/08
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4/30/13 10:23:47 AM#8
Originally posted by Quizzical
Why would anyone pay a subscription for a game they like when there are a lot of games that you can play for free if you're willing to be crippled enough that you won't like them?  The question nearly answers itself.

Haha, nice one.

But despite that bit of wit, people seem to be digging the cash shop based models more and more, which is a bit sad to me if the trend is forcing more and more developers into going the cash shop way.

I do play a couple of F2P games, but only as long as they have some subscription option as well - meaning, one that you can just pay and play without feeling the need to spend on top of the sub price. Though I'd still hugely prefer the "just sub and no cash shop" way.

I'm kind of looking forward to WildStar and even TESO, but if either turns out to be F2P (not B2P) with pure cash shop model, I don't see myself playing it for more than a month.


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Joined: 9/13/06
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4/30/13 10:27:24 AM#9

Could the answer be.... both?  Offer different tiers, including a sub model with access to most (if not all) content and then F2P models where you buy content packs, extra bag space, mounts etc?

I think hybrid with multiple options is the way of the future.

In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
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Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
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Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 789

This Rabbit stinks!

4/30/13 10:28:48 AM#10
Originally posted by danwest58
Originally posted by Quizzical
Why would anyone pay a subscription for a game they like when there are a lot of games that you can play for free if you're willing to be crippled enough that you won't like them?  The question nearly answers itself.

Because F2P games suck and get little development when they are F2P.  Look at DDO and LOTRO, it takes them forever to get expansions and fixes because they do not have the money to pay developers.  For all the bosting about F2P earns you more money than P2P that is not true for all games.  The Truth is only a few F2P games (Mainly P2W games) earn more money than P2P games. 

How many expansions does lotro have since 2007 and how many expansions for wow since 2004?


Hard Core Member

Joined: 6/15/09
Posts: 449

4/30/13 10:29:07 AM#11

I like the Elder Scrolls series... but even if I am in the minority, I will not play it if it is Free to Play.

I can't afford Free to Play games.


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Joined: 9/14/10
Posts: 198

4/30/13 10:30:28 AM#12
Originally posted by duggyfr3sh123
both TESO and WildStar are P2P.

Source? I haven't seen an announcement for either and it's quite a heated debate for Wildstar at least.


Also, I didn't know TESO was releasing this year... seems like it was just announced.  I thought it'd be '14 or '15.  Then again, I haven't followed that closely.


Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 18490

4/30/13 10:30:38 AM#13

just because there is a f2p game, no mattter how good, doesn't mean I would want to play it.

The way I'm wired is to say "hey, I want to play that game, it's p2p, no problem, as long as I feel I'm getting my money's worth I'll play it.

These subscrption fees are a pittance when compared to what people throw away on a daily basis. Coffee, soda, snacks, extra breakfast bar, etc. $15 adds up quickly, one can do it in one day without thinking about it. So why would $15 be a bother to me?

But one thing the article did get right is that they are competing for my attention. The money doesn't matter but what matters is how good their game is.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2610

4/30/13 10:32:38 AM#14

Really bad article.

SW:TOR couldnt sustain a subscription payment model because it was a really bad game. People beat the singleplayer portion of the game then quit rather than stick around for the horribly buggy and unfinished endgame.

A good article would have expounded on that rather than just say "subs failed for TOR which automatically means that subs will fail for ESO".

And to say that subscription based were always failing is just ....laughably bad. I dont even have the words to express how wrong that is. "Always a losing proposition" is definitive statement which means he's saying that WoWs subscription are a failure ....I mean ....really can you

*brain explodes*


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Joined: 2/10/13
Posts: 986

4/30/13 10:32:46 AM#15

Name one "quality" F2P MMO.

Neverwinter that you oh' sooo blindly praise is really a mediocere MMO AT BEST.  Neverwinter relied heavily on the IP to carry it through.  Foundry is limiting, combat doesn't even resemble D&D, many features that are staple in MMOs are missing, nickle n diming every where, WAY to casual and combat is a complete faceroll.

DDO a game I have played extensively is severly lacking in competency in the Dev dept, age old bugs not fixed and see no effort to fix (a numerous feats that are bugged for archery they they acknowledge and yet still have yet to fix or state any intention to fix which have been out for close to a year now), cotentent have to purchase that is so burdensome that one tends to go VIP for a bit first, combat is just plain bad in regards mobs moving around even when at a stunned state or how lag is a constant issue., need I even go into that game's piss poor implementation of F2P?

AoC might be the most decent F2P MMO.

After Neverwinter I will never touch a F2P game again as the nickle and diming is jsut ridiculous and the quality is certainly lacking.  P2P games are successful for a QUALITY game.  Isn't Rift still P2P even though its a definition of a WoW clone?  WoW is still strong, EVE is sub based and a very successful MMO, SWTOR failed because it was a horrible MMO (great CoOp game, but lousey MMO).


Novice Member

Joined: 8/08/12
Posts: 392

4/30/13 10:33:39 AM#16

I suspect the payment model wasn't the reason it couldn't retain subs and I would suspect it wouldn't be the reason that, if ESO follows the same path, Elder scrolls couldn't retain them either. Doesn't take much to look at the outrage over the PvP focused end game to see that quite a few players are upset over the direction of the game. If ESO fails to retain subs if launching as a sub game, it won't be the payment model here either that did them in but alienating the core of their fan base with their game design and execution. 

People are willing to pay for good MMOs, that hasn't been the issue here for quite a while.

Played: EQ1 (10 Years), Guild Wars, Rift, TERA
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Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 7138

4/30/13 10:36:53 AM#17
Originally posted by Quizzical
Why would anyone pay a subscription for a game they like when there are a lot of games that you can play for free if you're willing to be crippled enough that you won't like them?  The question nearly answers itself.

I'm not quite sure what you're trying to say Quizz.  Are you saying the only two options are free open equal gameplay versus oppressive crippled restricted frustrating gameplay?  If so, then that's a horrible false dichotomy.

Those might be your options and a reason why you're fine with renting your gameplay, but those aren't my options.  I have plenty of fun options (Tera, GW2, TSW, City of Steam, STO, Neverwinter, and a couple more) that don't require a recurring monthly fee.  I don't feel crippled in any of those games any more than I did in Rift before I got Storm Legion.

The major differences I see in my sub-locked / p2p games is that I'm renting temporary access to a game and have a floor with how much I have to spend in order to have fun.  The sub-locked games require I spend approx $180/year + xpac/rmt/box fees - so around $220 - $230 per year.  All of that is locked the moment I stop paying them.  With sub-free games (b2p or f2p) I can put that much money in, on my terms and my schedule, and I keep all that and can keep playing without having to spend more.

The tl;dr version is that I'm not renting my games anymore and I have plenty of fun options that don't require me to do so.  I may be in the minority, but why should I change that for ESO if it is sub-locked?


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/10/12
Posts: 1403

4/30/13 10:37:20 AM#18
The problem isn't the pay model with these games. The problem is the fact that gameplay and originality isn't worth neither Pay Per Month nor Cash Shop.

Novice Member

Joined: 12/13/03
Posts: 21

4/30/13 10:40:30 AM#19

"Subscriptions, even in their heyday, were always a losing proposition."


I'm sure the folks at Blizzard would contend with that statement right there. 


Give us a good solid game that is updated regularly, robust in what you can do, and folks will pay subscriptions.  Quit throwing junk at us and expecting us to stick with it.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/10
Posts: 465

4/30/13 10:43:14 AM#20

I expect it to be P2P with a sub and frankly if it’s a solid game I don’t mind paying.

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