During Gamescom last week, it was announced that Crown Crates would be coming to Elder Scrolls Online with the One Tamriel update. The announcement sparked a lot of discussion so we went straight to the source to ask Matt Firor for more details. See what he had to say in our exclusive interview.
MMORPG: You just announced your Crown Crate system at Gamescom. What can you tell us about them?
Matt Firor: The concept of Crown Crates is pretty easy: for a 400 crown purchase, you get a crate full of consumables as well as a chance at customization and convenience items. Crown Crates are obtainable exclusively in the Crown Store, and the consumables they contain are the same ones that you are probably already purchasing directly in the Crown Store. The difference is that you have a chance to get additional items in a Crown Crate – the same items that are on sale in the Crown Store. There is also a rarer chance to receive a discontinued limited-time-offer Crown Store item. The rarest items are Crown-Crate only items that we will cycle out every quarter or so for a new set.
If you do receive a special premium item in a Crate that you have already purchased from the Crown Store, instead of a duplicate, you will be given Crown Gems. These Crown Gems can then be spent on a (new) section of the Crown Store to purchase another item.
So, in a nutshell: you purchase a crate of consumables, and you get the chance for cool gear that was once on the store but was discontinued – and a really rare chance of unique customization and convenience items.
MMORPG: Why now add these to ESO, several years on?
MF: ESO is a living, breathing service and as such we make changes to it every quarter or so – new content, new systems, fixes, balance changes, etc. Just over a year ago we changed the game’s primary revenue model from subscription-required to subscription-optional, for example. This coming Update, we will drop character level requirements for exploring content, which is a large change to the game that we think will make the game more socially enabled and make it easier for players to find friends and group with them. We are committed to keeping the game fresh and interesting for players for the life of the game, so we will add new systems from time to time – Crown Crates is an example of this.
MMORPG: Are players guaranteed to get something worthwhile from boxes?
MF: Players are guaranteed to get consumables like health potions, experience point boosting scrolls, etc. You will always get something that you can use from a Crown Crate.
MMORPG: What happens when there is an exclusive collectible in the crate that I want, but I never get it?
MF: There is a very good chance – especially if you are a regular collector of Crown Store items – that you will receive a collectible from a Crown Crate that you already have. When that happens, instead of a duplicate item, you will receive a new form of currency, the Crown Gem. You can then spend Crown Gems in a new section of the Crown Store where you can purchase the item that you want – including Crown Crate-exclusive items. The gem store will contain all of the collectibles available in all the Crown Crates, so you will be able to acquire the collectible you want, even if you don’t get it directly from a Crown Crate.
MMORPG: Will items taken from boxes be sell-able on the in-game traders?
MF: No, you will not – Crown Crate items are the same items you purchase in the Crown Store, so they cannot be sold or traded.
MMORPG: What is your reaction to the very spirited discussions surrounding the announcement?
MF: At this point in the life cycle of ESO, we are very much accustomed to lots of discussion around our major announcements. Looking back on features like Veteran Ranks, Justice System, experience point scrolls, the Crown Store when it was first announced, our DLC strategy, etc. – all of these generated intense debate and discussion, which we welcome.
MMORPG: How can you alleviate the concerns that players have expressed?
MF: I think the most common concern is that this is a slippery slope that will lead to monetization chaos and pay-to-win. However, since almost all of the items in Crown Crates are already in the Crown Store to begin with (with the exception of the unique mounts and customization items), that is a baseless fear. Our #1 mantra for virtual currency monetization is “do no harm” – meaning, don’t rock the boat by introducing items into the game that directly influence player power. This is a core design philosophy for the game, and we are not changing it by introducing Crown Crates.
I think it is worth noting that much of this same commentary was expressed when we initially announced the Crown Store back in 2015 – slippery slope, pay-to-win, etc. – there was lots of fear then that was alleviated once players got a chance to see it and try it out for themselves.
MMORPG: The Black Desert Online community has reacted loudly to items being sell-able on the market feeling that it makes the game pay to win. How do you plan to address similar concerns about ESO's boxes? Will the items within remain mostly cosmetic as much of ESO's crown store?
MF: Again, the items in Crown Crates are the same – with a few cosmetic-only exceptions – as the ones you can already purchase in the Crown Store, so this concern is not valid for ESO. We aren’t changing the philosophy of the Crown Store here, we are simply adding a new method for purchase that gives you the chance of receiving really cool customization and convenience items. And we will still continue to offer cool things in the Crown Store, including limited-time offer items.