Bethesda has chosen to buck the free to play trend with the pricing model for its upcoming MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online. The company confirmed to Gamestar that the online sequel to Skyrim will cost players $15 a month (€12.99/£8.99 in Europe) after a 30-day trial period.
Betheda Producer Matt Firor laid out the pricing model and philosophy in the interview:
“We’re thrilled that gamers are looking forward to diving into The Elder Scrolls Online and we’ve been working hard to deliver the game that fans want – one that’s worthy of the Elder Scrolls name. Choosing the right business model is part of that. 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 Elder Scrolls Online offers unlimited play for the first 30 days with the purchase of the game. The choice is yours to play as much as you want; hundreds of hours of content, PvP, etc – is all there for you to experience with the base purchase of the game. If you want to continue playing for hundreds of hours more after that first month you’ll pay a flat fee for continued, unlimited access to the game.
We’ll talk about further discounts, etc. later, but for now, we are very happy to finally announce our model. It’s very simple – you pay once per month after the first 30 days and the entire game is available to you.”
Firor added, “The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want. We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play. The Elder Scrolls Online was designed and developed to be a premium experience: hundreds of hours of gameplay, tons of depth and features, professional customer support – and a commitment to have ongoing content at regular intervals after launch. This type of experience is best paired with a one-time fee per month, as opposed to many smaller payments that would probably add up to more than $14.99/month any way.
And it’s important to state that our decision to go with subscriptions is not a referendum on online game revenue 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.”