On Tuesday Amazon posted a picture for the Elder Scrolls Online Imperial Edition for a different game. Quick on the draw shoppers caught Amazon’s mistake and proliferated the picture across the internet faster than you can say viral. By Tuesday night we newsed the leaked image and the possible rewards. By Wednesday morning speculation became fact when ZeniMax released the Arrival trailer which coincided with the real announcement of the CE.
The physical Imperial edition of the CE will come with the full game and unlimited access for 30 days, a 12” Molag Bal statue, a 224 page illustrated book, a physical map of Tamriel and a nice shiney box. This runs for $99 USD which considering the 224 page book and the statue isn’t a bad price compared to other CEs. It also comes with the digital content that is in the digital Imperial edition. The digital Imperial CE costs $79 and allows you to play as an Imperial in any Alliance. The Imperials have their own special bonuses which haven’t been announced yet but would probably be in line with their lore and no more powerful than any of the other race’s. Players will get a white Imperial horse and a Mudcrab vanity pet. Players will also get Rings of Mara which grant them and a friend a 3% experience bonus. If you preorder either of those you will get 5 days of head start game time and access to the Explorer’s Pack. The Explorer’s pack allows the player’s characters to join any alliance, no matter which race you choose, gifts you the Scuttler, a tiny but loyal vanity pet and grants the player four bonus treasure maps that will lead the player to loot.
I’m not sure why but it turns out that people get really mad when you offer vanity pets in collector’s editions....
All kidding aside, a lot of players are upset that pre-ordering the game allows you to play as any race on any faction. This is a buyer beware society and players should be allowed to make discretionary purchases wisely. I get that. ZeniMax also has the right to run their business how they see fit. They have a break even number that they need to achieve and they are trying to increase day one sales to get to that objective. I don’t find this greedy. In fact if they wanted to be greedy they could have kept the Explorer’s Pack from all preorders and only granted it to the collector’s editions. They did not. If anything they have provided a laurel leaf to the Elder Scrolls players that were upset about faction locks. Does this seem counter intuitive to the stance they took on faction locks originally? A little, but players were always going to have the opportunity to play through the other races areas to experience their stories after they finished their own faction. All of the quests that people are concerned about magically breaking by this decision are worrying over nothing. The game has already been designed to allow foreigners to play through the other campaigns.
There are also a number of players that are upset about the Imperials costing an additional $20 on top of the base game price since ESO is a subscription based game. I want you to know that I hear you loud and clear. I hate having to pay for things too but this isn’t the first instance of a subscription based game selling premium items. World of Warcraft has been doing it for years. They have been selling $20 pets and $25 mounts for at least the last 5 years. Comparatively $20 for an entire race could be considered fair market value if not an outright steal. It is always a bit of a shock when we see things like this for the first time but if you think about it the writing has been on the wall for something like this to happen. I’m not a fan of day 1 DLC. I think that day 1 DLC that impacts the main story should never be allowed. This is a race though that has no real impact on the storyline and will not negatively affect the player if they don’t have it. This is purely a vanity item. If the Imperials had their own storyline from start to finish that would be pretty underhanded to offer as a perk but as a vanity item only I just can’t be bothered by it.
Personally I like the CE. I’m a sucker for maps. They just bring back that old school RPG feel for me. I wish I got it for free but I don’t work for free and I really don’t expect other people to either. I expect them to want to be compensated for their work. Damn capitalism! Ryan Dancey wrote a great article for us the other day that is worth taking a look at if you haven’t already. It talks in depth about the subscription model. While a vocal group of players may want them to go away it is not in the best interest of most developers for them to go away anytime soon. You are going to see more cash shops with vanity items in games; however, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t see one in ESO. In addition a number of software companies are moving away from a box cost for their products and selling subscriptions to generate more revenue. They aren’t bit players either, Microsoft Office 365, and Adobe Creative Cloud just to name a few. The software industry as a whole is trending towards subscription based services. Now we just need to get a MMO developer to drop the box fee and charge a sub to see how that works out.
I’m not trying to convince you to run out and pre purchase ESO. I just want to try and inject a little sanity into this raging debate. On that note I would like to point out a few minor details before I bring this to a close. First off you do not need to be in a rush to preorder the game. You do not even need to be in a rush to decide if you want to play it. I agree wholeheartedly that the NDA still being up this close to release is cause for concern. But on the other hand it is obviously going to go down before the game launches. Our website will have plenty of coverage between now and then that will hopefully help you make an informed decision on whether to purchase this game or not. If you do decide to preorder ESO you will be able to upgrade to a Imperial digital CE after the game launches on 4-4-14, that is if you decide you want the Imperials, the mount, the mudcrab, and the rings, and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want the mud crab!
I’m just one voice in the crowd though. What about you? After 48 hours are you less enraged by this commercial injustice? Do you think the whole thing has been blown out of proportion and just a tad bit silly. Let me know in the comments below. Between now and then I’ll be planning out my Orc that can now play as part of the Ebonheart Pact.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time checking out the latest games and technology. Feel free to hunt him down on twitter @Grakulen
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