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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Is ESO Plus Membership Worth It?

By Ryan Getchell on August 12, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Is ESO Plus Membership Worth It?

Now that QuakeCon has passed we have a view as to what is in store for ESOTU. According to Matt Firor, they are planning to release a named DLC pack every 12 weeks. This is pretty epic, considering when they first announced ESO they said they wanted to adhere to a 4-6 week content patch system. While 12 weeks is double their original goal, we’re not talking content patches anymore, we’re talking named DLC packs and all that might entail. When I think “Named DLC Packs,” I think entire areas devoted to that pack, Imperial City, for example, or the forthcoming Wrothgar. What I don’t see is content patches like Spellcrafting, horse racing, being sold at the Crown Store as a DLC pack. At least I sure hope I don’t see that, especially the justice part of the justice system. But the big question that needs to be asked are Quarterly DLC packs enough to make the ESO Plus membership worth it?

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At the beginning of June, I wrote about why I canceled my ESO Plus membership. While I still find the game fun to play, I don’t see the value in the $15 a month fee. I would have gladly continued to pay them $15 a month without hesitation had they not switched payment models.  But now that everything is given to me for free, with the exception of crown store cosmetics, I don’t see any value.

Switching payment models and creating a model that works and truly entices people to hand over their hard earned money is difficult. Star Wars: The Old Republic has one of the worst payment models I’ve ever seen, yet it’s also one of the best performing. It gives the subscription fee a real value; you’re actually getting a lot for your $15 a month. It’s bad in that they are pay-gating the players, putting in restrictions that shouldn’t be in place, limiting the amount of XP you can earn, restricting the items you earn from doing the quests, and limiting how many operations or flashpoints you can do. 

Zenimax has done an outstanding jobs not pay gating players or making them feel obligated to pay the $15. The game is completely open, everything you do and receive is the same if you’re free or a paying player. You can do everything the game offers, when new content is released you get to play it day one. There is no early access for paying players a la DCUO. ESO has a great system for any MMO player looking for a buy to play game.

Imperial City is releasing soon and if you’re an ESO Plus member you’ll get the content for free, no added charge and no need to purchase it in the crown store. Except it’s not your content, it’s only leased to you while you continue to pay $15 a month. This is why paying the monthly fee isn’t worth it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been playing for a month or six, the moment you un-subscribe you no longer have access to that content. So you’re paying $15 a month for 4,500 crowns, as that’s what you’re really getting. It’s far better from a consumer standpoint to pay the $20 for the content and own it.

Even if they release content every three months, it doesn’t give the recurring fee any value. You’ll have spent $45 between content releases, where you could have purchased the first one for $20 and the next one for $20 and had $5 to spare. So where is the value when being free provides you with a better investment?

The way I see it, they really only have one option if they want to keep their current system. That is to implement a rent to own style system: a system that will give the paying customer an opportunity to eventually pay for their DLC content so if for whatever reason they can’t afford a month or two of ESO Plus they aren't completely shafted and being locked out of content they were previously doing.

By Rent-To-Own, an ESO Plus member who has been a member for 3 months, Imperial City would be granted to their account free of charge. If there are multiple DLC packs released a window will be presented at the character select screen asking the user which content pack they’d like for free. This is how Zenimax will continue to make profit and the value in the ESO Plus membership begins to shine. Any player who becomes an ESO Plus member after the first DLC pack is released, they’ll always be renting one DLC pack, assuming ZOS keeps up with the 12-week timeline. If every 3 months I received a DLC pack of my choice for free I’d be glad to become an ESO plus member. The value isn’t just in the DLC packs, it’s the bonus crowns you’d be receiving. As I said earlier, if ZOS releases content every 3 months you’ll have spent $45, but essentially $20 of it went towards the DLC pack and the other $25 goes towards 4,500 crowns, which is approximately $35 worth of coins. That’s a pretty good deal in my opinion.

What do you think? Do you like this idea? Does it add value to the ESO Plus Membership? Would you become an ESO Plus member if it was implemented?  Or is there something else holding you back?

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.
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