Ooh, how novel! The Elder Scrolls Online may be a late-comer in the rush of fantasy MMORPGs but it's boldly sticking to the plans other also-rans have since abandoned, of launching with $15 monthly subscription fees. So I suppose now we know that, the question becomes: how long until it too goes free-to-play?
"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," ZeniMax Online general manager Matt Firor told Gamestar at Gamescom. "Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren't willing to make."
It'll be the usual story: you get 30 days' time free in the box, then pay $15 per month to keep playing. Details on typical multi-month discounts will follow.
"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," Firor added.
"We don't want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for - with our system, they get it all."
Still, while F2P MMOs may be en vogue, subscriptions aren't dying. Let's not forget that World of Warcraft has millions of subscribers still, and NCsoft announced yesterday that WildStar will charge fees, though with the twist of letting players sell time cards to each other for in-game gold. Even if TES or WildStar do go free-to-play down the line, even a year of box sales and subscription fees recoups a big chunk of development costs.
The Elder Scrolls Online is headed to PC, Mac, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in spring 2014.