The rumors can end now, folks. It’s official, as of this moment in time. Elder Scrolls Online is ditching its subscription model in favor of a model more akin to Guild Wars 2. Rebranding itself as Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, players now will simply buy the base game, gain access to all of its content, and never pay another dime unless they deem it necessary. In addition, the PS4 and XBOX One Editions will be launching officially on June 9th. It’s all coming up Tamriel this year, it seems. However, that’s not quite all she wrote.
With the Tamriel Unlimited launch, we’re also going to be seeing optional subscriptions remain, because like GW2, ESO will now have its own virtual currency called “crowns”. Every existing player will get 500 crowns for free, plus an additional 100 crowns for every month they’ve been subscribed since launch. The optional subscription known as “ESO Plus” will grant a monthly stipend of 1500 crowns, and will grant access to all future DLC as long as the subscription is maintained. If you have an active subscription when Tamriel goes Unlimited on March 17th, you’ll be automatically enrolled in ESO Plus, and will start getting your bonus crowns. In this way, the model reminds me a bit more of DC Universe Online, or even The Secret World. A hybrid of marketing ideas in the truest sense of the word.
It’s worth noting that all existing patches (including the forthcoming Update 6) will be part of the base game and free of charge. What remains to be seen is just what the DLC entails, as the press release states “Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges.” So what will DLC entail, and how much (if at all) will it segregate the playerbase? And what’s going to be in the Crown Marketplace? According to the press release, it’ll all be about convenience and customization items, and nothing Pay-to-Win. I’m guessing at XP boosts, mounts, pets, armor skins, dyes, and all of that.
As I predicted back in MMOFTW a few weeks ago, I’m betting that this move was predetermined a while back while negotiating with Microsoft and Sony on the revenue model for the console editions. Neither company is fond of charging an additional subscription on top of PSN and XBL fees, and I’m willing to bet that most console owners wouldn’t be happy with the idea either. Going Buy-to-Play is the best chance ESO has to make a real foothold in the console space at the early end of this console generation. All I ever heard from friends close to ESO was that the subscription retention was high, so it’s unlikely the B2P change is because of anything other than the console release and wanting one revenue model for all versions.
Regardless, a livestream from Zenimax goes live at 12pm EST today, just head over to http://www.twitch.tv/zenimaxonlinestudios at the aforementioned time to find out all the details. Our own Christina Gonzalez has a column and editorial on the news coming later this morning, so stay tuned.