Bucking Trends, Elder Scrolls Online Uses Subscription Model

The Elder Scrolls Online will be a subscription-based game, Zenimax Online Studios president Matt Firor revealed today. Like World of Warcraft, the game will hold a monthly price of $14.99/€12.99/£8.99 after the first free month.

In an interview with Gamestar, Firor said that the game was better suited for a single, monthly charge that opened up the entire experience instead of locking features behind various fees as certain titles do, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic.

“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 percent 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 said.

“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,” he added. “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 anyway.”

Despite his stance with The Elder Scrolls Online, Firor says that he sees the value in free-to-play games, which provide gamers with a lower barrier for entry.

“But subscription is the one that fits ESO the best, given our commitment to freedom of gameplay, quality and long-term content delivery,” Firor said. “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,” Firor continued. “We don’t want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for–with our system, they get it all.”

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16 Comments on Bucking Trends, Elder Scrolls Online Uses Subscription Model


On August 21, 2013 at 8:09 am

While I’m not personally against subscription based systems, I can’t help but feel what Firor’s saying would make more sense if the game was using the same system as Guild Wars 2. At the end of the day, if your not constantly paying you still end up with restrictions. Just, in this case, its the entire game instead of the parts you didn’t pay for.


On August 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

unbelivable… i alwase hated Pay per month games, seriously i don t own any of those games and i think its Very dumb to end up paying over 100$+ over time for a game. and now my favorite Single Player game turned Pay per month ? WtF went wrong ?Seriously the Swag who took this dumb idea among them should be kicked out of the team. i wanted multiplayer integrated to The Game NOT MMORPG style, Good job guys u ruined the elder scrolls Game, I was thinking after skyrim they would finnally make a way to have a friend come in ur game, but they screwed it up Very bad… i guess that’s how Bethesda reward ppl for buying their single player games, i hate how gaming companies work these days, instead of being like in the old days brining out the best at lowest prices now they just try to rip off ppl at the lowest effort


On August 21, 2013 at 8:48 am

I definitely understand the point behind sub based MMOs. I definitely agree that there is something very nice about being able to pay a simple sub and not getting locked out of certain aspects of the game.

But I think, very soon, the market is going to have to find an equilibrium. F2Ps are too many at this point. They offer such a watered down experience that I can’t imagine tons of people truly stick around. But $15 a month, $180 a year, plus the cost of the game is just too much, IMO, when the market is flooded with F2P options. Unless you’re WoW (even then, that game is bleeding subscribers), I think the best thing you could do for your game would be to make a $10 or even $5 sub model.

But it’s really tough to charge the same price as the established king of MMOs and all of the free options and get a healthy and consistent subscriber base.

Ron Whitaker

On August 21, 2013 at 9:13 am

I’m not surprised they went the subscription route. I’ve been saying for a while now that the death of subscription MMOs has been greatly exaggerated. Let’s face it, the plus side for developers is that a subscription lets them know exactly what they have to work with, both in terms of money and players. There are a lot of things people can say are bad about World of Warcraft, but I don’t think anyone will ever say that Blizzard didn’t deliver a great product for the price.

Ultimately, that’s the key. Bethesda will have to convince players that the product they are delivering is worth the $15 a month (or whatever that cost will be). If they do, they’ll likely be successful. If they don’t, then they’ll probably go free-to-play.


On August 21, 2013 at 9:49 am

A buddy of mine got me back into playing Star Trek Online lately so i can totally understand the reasoning not wanting to block off content. I know without a doubt my friend whos played STO for years has spent well over $500, and likely much more. When the choice is between a monthly subscription for everything or being nickel and dimed for all the cool extras, i’ll take the sub every time.


On August 21, 2013 at 11:30 am

what a game…. nice


On August 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

No thanks. I’ll just wait for Elder Scrolls 6


On August 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm

This is great news for the gamers out there that want a quality product.


On August 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Note for you haters out there: “after the first free month.”
Got-a-love the try-before-you-buy model. As long as it doesn’t require credit/debit card authentication for the trial with an auto-bill that you have to disable 30 days in advance to not get billed. But hey, 15 bucks for something you may or may not stick with? Not so bad.

-Natural Optimist


On August 21, 2013 at 5:52 pm



On August 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Why is every MMO following the 15 bucks a month routine.
WOW, Warhammer online, Aion, Rift, Tera, Final Fantasy 11 and 14, SWTOR and so on. Hasn’t Guild Wars 2′s success in being the top selling MMO proved anything; that F2P models work better than Pay to play.
They just killed most of there fan base with this announcement and maybe their game as well. Ah well just waiting to see what Wildstar and The new everquest games have to offer. Thanks for ruining this game experience for me.


On August 22, 2013 at 1:18 am


“Free first month” after you purchase the actual game, there, bud. So, no. Not a “try-before-you-buy” game. A “buy-get-a-free-month-then-start-paying-again-just-like-every-other-sub-based-mmo-ever-has-done” game.

Now, it may have a free-trial…but I would bet a large sum of money that any free-trial would come with heavy restrictions. But that is not at all what he was referring to when it comes to the free* first month.

*After purchase of $60 copy of game. All sales final. For rules and regulations call MMO-money-sink-hotline.


On August 22, 2013 at 1:23 am

£8.99 per month? Are they having a laugh? Wow i was looking forward to this game but not so much now. There is no way on this earth i am paying to play every month. ‘one time small fee’ and how many other games are going to charge you to play online? It’s going to get stupid paying for everything every month, i’ll have to get another job just to pay for my games haha. I mean Sony are already making you purchase PS+ to play some of their games online. I think i’ll just stick to my ps3,so yeah i pass on buying this game. Well done for ruining it for a lot of people.


On August 22, 2013 at 1:41 am

So, Elder Scrolls has gone down the route of far, far fewer sales than usual (probably as a way of distracting themselves from the inferiority of the game itself from every other title in the series bar Oblivion), but charging its few remaining customers a frankly laughable amount to play it. Well, if you’re stupid enough to buy such an expensive product that will almost certainly be no different from any other subscription-based MMORPG out there (it won’t be a sandbox game, that’s for sure) then you deserve what you get.


On August 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

Well then it finally decided whether I’ll try this game or not.
I thought that every once in a while I’ll play a little so at least I can laugh how pathetic it is but if they set time limits and even have the nerve to charge for it eventually then I’ll avoid it like the plague.

What the hell is wrong with them anyway? Every TES game was a success as far as I know, Skyrim certainly was, they had a winning formula. Why abandon it for this MMO BS ? Sure if MMOs were a perfeclty foolproof and safe way to make money and become successful then I’d understand but we see more often than not that they are huge failures. Blatantly scamming people instead of honest work is not always the best choice.


On August 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Sub fee? Yeah, but no. Just lost thousands (maybe millions) of people excited to play this game. What they don’t realize is that most f2p users end up spending more than 15$ a month on the game, it is just at their own discretion when they want to spend money (not feeling like they need to play to get their money’s worth).