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Elder Scrolls Online Column: Targeting the MMO Market

By Garrett Fuller on May 25, 2012

This week we really want to talk about how an Elder Scrolls game will launch into the MMO world. In many peoples’ eyes, this is an easy transition. Well it is not.  I mean, just look how the fans have reacted to the news already, and we’ve not even really seen much of the game yet. Still what we have seen from the Game Informer interviews, bringing the Elder Scrolls world into an MMO does come with some major challenges. Based on the interviews with Matt Firor and Paul Sage it seems like the team is well equipped to work on the IP.

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The biggest is the single player experience that Elder Scrolls has set the bar with. In terms of RPGs not too many games can hold a candle to Oblivion and Skyrim. Both games gave an incredible new depth to the single player experience. That aspect most certainly has to be in the game. From what Matt Firor mentioned in his interview the IP lends itself to a fantastic experience and the team is trying to make sure they live up to the single player awesome that goes with Elder Scrolls.

The next challenge is one I personally think the team will easily overcome. The PvP challenge is some thing that comes from Matt’s old school days at DAOC. The system they have in place is the perfect three faction system with goals and rewards that impact entire factions. As almost every MMO is now going using three-faction based PvP as a game mechanic, the guys who worked on it originally with DAOC will be implementing it into Elder Scrolls Online.


Something that Matt points out in his interview is that there are always major conflicts in the Elder Scrolls games. I found myself way more interested in fighting for Ulfric Stormcloak than the main storyline in Skyrim at some points. Back to the point about PvP, it is a comforting thought that the DAOC guys are focues on the PvP. I think the combinations of the factions will be a big factor as well. Each one hits on a certain type of gamer and it will be very interesting to watch who plays what when the game is launched. Aside from all that, the system that the team is putting in place really sounds amazing based on early interviews.

The next challenge is how Bethesda will handle the MMO market. We have seen some very interesting turns with MMOs in recent years back as other major developers chased the big gorilla known as World of Warcraft. Blizzard continues its reign of terror with Diablo 3 recently hitting some record-breaking sales numbers. The thing that many game companies need to remember is that they have to stop trying to be World of Warcraft.  Stop trying to beat Blizzard. Matt Firor, Paul Sage, and some of the others on his crew came from the pre-WoW days of MMOs, the days of Ultima, Everquest, Shadowbane, and DAOC. The game will have many aspects of that mould as part of it. So the challenge here really is more that Elder Scrolls Online is entering an MMO market that has been flattened by WoW. In its aftermath the rise of games like Guild Wars 2 have become a shining light in the apocolypse. The thing is… a lot of Guild Wars 2’s World vs. World system is based on the best aspects of Dark Age of Camelot. Trust me that this is a good thing overall for these games.

Along the same lines as entering the new decade’s MMO market, we are looking at a whole new player base of gamers joining MMOs for the first time. There is no doubt that the success of Elder Scrolls will bring some hardcore RPG players into the MMO world (there have to be some rabid TES fans who don’t MMO, right?). It is something I found at the core of MMOs when I first started playing them with Ultima Online. I can adventure around in a game with my friends? Are you kidding me? Seriously, that was the kicker. Most people now play all sorts of online games so this concept is nothing new for many. However, for the player of Elder Scrolls who might not normally set foot in an MMO, they might find a very different experience waiting for them.

We just booked our appointments at E3 with Bethesda to see Elder Scrolls at E3. The entire team here has just as many questions as you guys do. We are geared up and ready to talk a lot about game mehcanics, systems, ideas, and the philosophy of Elder Scrolls Online. In the end the ideas that Bethesda has as a game studio coupled with an old school team of MMO veterans just sounds amazing. We cannot wait to see what this title will hold for all of us.

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