The Elder Scrolls Online Can Succeed Where Other Subscription MMOs Have Failed
Posted on Saturday, August 31 @ 22:55:45 Eastern by Daniel Bischoff
We've played countless hours of The Elder Scrolls Online before release. Jonathan Leack got a lengthy hands-off demonstration of the game at E3 2012 and said that an epic PvP battle looked like "a scene from Braveheart, bloody and chaotic." After Anthony's two hour preview at PAX East, he said he "had already grown a bond with [his] mute character, a bond with the world, and [still] so many quests left unfinished." Even Nick Tan wrote in his two hour preview that "from the lowliest beggar to the drunkest soldier, [he] could speak with all NPCs and hear completely voice-acted lines of dialogue."
Clearly, we don't need to retread how well Bethesda has translated single-player Elder Scrolls gameplay to a massively multiplayer game. Hell, subscribing to the Skyrim Reddit and playing that single-player game practically morphed it into a massively multiplayer experience. The foundation and elements are there for a World-of-Warcraft-killer, the one true MMO that can bring down the reigning champion from Blizzard.
TESO will succeed in that moment every MMO player has where they're up at 3 am and the server has mostly emptied. It'll succeed in the way it supports the solo player as much as it supports the guild. I got my own hands on The Elder Scrolls Online in Bethesda's booth during PAX Prime and while I'm not exactly the target audience (having never been gripped by Skyrim like my peers), I do think that The Elder Scrolls Online can succeed with a subscription model. Here's why:
It's Elder Scrolls
I realize this sounds like a cop out, and it kind of is, but the brand will definitely play a part in keeping TESO populated and profitable with its subscription model. More than 15 million people have purchased Skyrim across three different platforms. The franchise has been around for nearly two decades and it continues to deliver on its strengths. As is the case in single-player Elder Scrolls games, you can read books, talk to NPCs, go on quests, and of course swing your sword and cast spells in first-person. If I didn't know better (and I kind of don't) you could have told me I was playing a new Skyrim expansion in Bethesda's PAX Prime booth.
Bethesda's RPGs have a proven track record of extensive post-release support. From Broken Steel to Dawnguard, fans have consistently gobbled up whatever more the publisher can provide for its key brands. Can you imagine Fallout 3 without Broken Steel's key component in allowing players to continue their character beyond the narrative's finale? Downloadable content like BS and even Skyrim's nesting simulator Hearthfire show that Bethesda can listen to their legion of fans, pick a few good ideas out of the cacophony of suggestions and requests, and make something truly special. In an MMO, that intelligence in prioritizing updates and new content will pay off in spades.
Look, if you need more or you didn't expect me to point to TESO's heritage in my claim that it has a shot at gaining a steady foothold in the market, you're probably happy enough playing Guild Wars 2 or any number of free-to-play MMOs, or possibly even the recently re-released subscription-based Final Fantasy XIV.
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