The Elder Scrolls Online is the first MMO in the popular RPG's line, and despite everything shown so far, the one piece of information we were missing was a cost. Would it be subscription-based or free-to-play? Well earlier today the big announcement has been made, and The Elder Scrolls Online is a subscription-based MMORPG with a $15 a month fee.
Speaking in a recent interview, ZeniMax Online general manager Matt Firor came clean on what the model is going to be like for The Elder Scrolls Online:
We are going with the subscription model for ESO.
We're building a game with the freedom to play - alone or with your friends - as much as you want. A game with meaningful and consistent content - one packed with hundreds of hours of gameplay that can be experienced right away and one that will be supported with premium customer support. Charging a flat monthly (or subscription) fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play. Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren't willing to make.
The game is going to be free for the first 30 days after purchase, with all the content available during that time. However, once those 30 days are up you'll need to fork over a monthly fee to continue exploring Tamriel and seeing just what Molag Bal is planning. Right now there's no mention of a discount if you buy, say, three months of game time at once, but Firor said that information will be revealed later on.
Firor went on a little further to better elaborate why TESO is subscription-based and how the decision isn't a slight against other models.
F2P, B2P, etc. are valid, proven business models - but subscription is the one that fits ESO the best, given our commitment to freedom of gameplay, quality and long-term content delivery. Plus, players will appreciate not having to worry about being "monetized" in the middle of playing the game, which is definitely a problem that is cropping up more and more in online gaming these days. The fact that the word "monetized" exists points to the heart of the issue for us: We don't want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for - with our system, they get it all.
Seeing it that way makes sense, but the fact remains The Elder Scrolls Online is going to require a subscription. Some people may not have a problem at paying $15 a month, but there are others who could just keep waiting for the next single-player experience from Bethesda. Plus there are always a ton of mods for Skyrim to offer new experiences.