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Robert Lashley: Elder Scrolls Online - The ESO Plus Proposition

By Robert Lashley on February 16, 2017 | Columns | Comments

Elder Scrolls Online - The ESO Plus Proposition

This is really tricky proposition because value is such a relative term. A lot of it, however, has boiled down to $15 USD a month as the cost of doing business. For ESO their ESO Plus membership comes with the following benefits. Full access to all DLC game packs, 1500 crowns a month, access to Craft Bag, access to costume dyeing, double the number of furnishings in a home, 10% bonus to experience gain, 10% bonus to crafting inspiration gain, 10% bonus to trait research time, and 10% bonus to gold acquisition.

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That looks like a long list of items but what are each of them really worth. That’s harder to look at because you can’t buy each of them ala-carte. We can try and gauge a value though because we can generalize what a crown is worth and from their start to pick apart the value of the other services.

Crowns break down at their most expensive to 1.06 cents per crown when purchased at $7.99 for 750 to 0.72 cents per crown when purchased at $39.99 for 5500. If you sub for 180 days you receive 9000 for $77.94 or 0.86 cents per crown. That last example is clearly not the way to go if you just want to buy crowns in bulk but it is always a possibility. For the sake of keeping it simple lets says the value of a crown falls around $0.08. That’s 8 cents per crown, which I still think is probably a bit high but should work for our purposes. This puts the value of the monthly stipend of 1500 crowns at $12.00.

This would put the value of the rest of the services at only $3.00 a month. That’s 8 other services so they would be $0.38 a month. I’d gladly pay $0.38 x 12 or $4.56 a year for the craft bag but that is worth way more than that to ZOS and they know it. Heck I’d even drop $20 and unsub to ESO Plus. Which I’d be willing to bet a lot of other players would too. Not all of those services are game changing. The gains to experience, crafting, trait research time, and gold acquisition are table stakes. Other buy to play and microtransaction based games that sell a premium subscription offer those at a minimum. I doubt anyone is lining up to sub to ESO Plus because it allows them to dye their costume.

I would like to point out that double the number of home furnishings is an addition to ESO Plus since homestead and housing just released this pass week. Zenimax is clearly working on and adjusting the offerings that come with ESO Plus. Its welcoming to see that evolution.

Over the course of the year if you didn’t sub to ESO Plus and you bought the chapter and the upcoming DLC you would spend $70. That’s $40 for the new chapter and $15 for each of the DLC. If you sub to ESO Plus at 12.99 you are going to spend $155.88 a year and you still have to purchase the new chapter. It could be purely psychological but that is the part gives me a major hangup on whether or not ESO Plus is worth it. Now that you have to factor in the chapter that annual price bumps up to $195.88 for ESO Plus and all the game content. That’s getting steep because these chapters are supposed to be an annual deal. 

For me it boils down to how much is the crafting bag really worth? I really love the bag but it is a fix to a problem ZOS intentionally created. I understand that their should be some type of limitation to bag space but at the same time they have created so many different collectible items that do not stack. If anything they should allow us to make the bank even bigger than it already is. I used to have 7 alternate characters as banks. 1 for each different type of crafter and 1 for general junk that I wanted to hang on to. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just playing inventory tetris across my account. Am I a bit a of a hoarder in MMOs? Sure, but I’m willing to bet that is more typical than atypical. In fact so many items are stashed in baskets, drawers, and treasure chests that gaining all of this ridiculous amount of loot is a part of the fun and ZOS knows it.

This isn’t an exact science. It’s really more of a thought experiment for me and I thank you for indulging me and playing along. Please feel free to poke holes in it my theory all day. I don’t pretend to be an authoritarian expert on the matter but I think the logic fits. I’ve also read other good suggestion on social media where if you like the craft bag you should just buy a second account, you can pick the game up all the time on sale for around $20, and abuse the in game mail. It’s free so you can just mail your second account items all the live long day.

I get that this is a hard balance and it doesn’t have any one easy solution. It’s my feeling that if ESO Plus included the new chapters I wouldn’t even be having these thoughts. It would clearly be worth the price of admission. A possible solution would be to lower the pricing structure by a few dollars. If ESO Plus could get down to $9.99 a month and leave all the rest unchanged I’d feel more inclined to pay that price and still buy the chapter. At an annual cost of $159.88 ZOS would even come out a little ahead of the $155.88 a year they get now. Either that or I may just have to buy that second account and start pretending I’m a postal worker. 

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.