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Pay-to-play massively multiplayer online games are not dead. Sure, most MMOs are free-to-play or are turning to free-to-play, but that’s not the case with The Elder Scrolls Online.
Developer Zenimax Online Studios revealed during the Gamescom industry event in Cologne, Germany that it will charge a monthly subscription fee for The Elder Scrolls Online. To access the fantasy MMO role-playing game, which is due out in 2014 for PC and next-gen consoles, players will have to plunk down $15 each month, although it’s likely gamers can save some money by purchasing multiple months at a time.
“We’re building a game with the freedom to play – alone or with your friends — as much as you want,” Zenimax Studios president Matt Firor told website Gamestar in an interview. “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.”
Plenty of games offer the “freedom to play,” it’s just that this one will cost a monthly fee to get to that content. The Elder Scrolls Online publisher Bethesda also hasn’t revealed what the game will cost upfront, which is in addition to the monthly fee.
In a separate interview with MCV, Firor said that the traditional subscription model is what works best for the first online Elder Scrolls game.
“We understand that there are plenty of other payment options out there, plenty of different ways to monetize,” he said. “And that’s fine. I’m not saying free-to-play is bad or anything. It is just subscription is the one that fits this game the best.”
One of the last major MMORPGs to launch with a subscription model was Electronic Arts’ Star Wars: The Old Republic. That game launched in December 2011 and rose to 1.7 million subscribers, but by July 2012, that number fell to below 1 million. EA turned The Old Republic into a free-to-play game in November.
Currently, the biggest subscription-based MMORPG is Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, but even that title is finally shedding subscribers. Blizzard recently stated that its next MMORPG probably won’t use a subscription business model.