Just reading the title “The Elder Scrolls 6” is enough to get you excited, and Bethesda knows that, which is why it only teased a logo on a nice, non-specific CGI background. After Skyrim, Bethesda has a lot to live up to with its premier fantasy RPG series, and fans are eagerly waiting for learn more. Though, honestly, those ecstatic fans who are on the edge of their seats waiting for their next Elder Scrolls fix should perhaps put their hype on ice. Bethesda has released a bunch of games lately, and if there’s anything to glean from their latest titles, it’s that the studio is a big fan of microtransactions. And if The Elder Scrolls 6 microtransactions come to fruition, it should worry the series’ biggest fans.
That’s not to say that The Elder Scrolls 6 will be a bad game. Bethesda has managed to release industry-shaking games that chart for years time after time, with Fallout and Skyrim practically dominating the conversation around Western RPGs during the last console generation. Bethesda’s repetitive, but addictive blend of combat, exploration, and questing has become a firm favorite in the gaming community, and fans will likely adore The Elder Scrolls 6, warts and all. But that one particular wart is impossible not to notice, and that wart’s name is in-game purchases.
Where the idea for The Elder Scrolls 6 microtransactions would come from
Bethesda is a busy game studio and publisher. Right now it is busily maintaining The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 76, Fallout Shelter, and the newly released The Elder Scrolls: Blades. That’s one big console and PC live service title and one mobile money maker for each of Bethesda’s two big main franchises, and all of these games have one thing in common: in-game purchases.
It’s not like Bethesda’s games shouldn’t be making money, of course, and it’s perfectly acceptable for Fallout Shelter and The Elder Scrolls: Blades to ask for a little extra cash considering they’re free-to-play. Both games could be considered a bit stingy, as progress is somewhat painfully slow in both Fallout Shelter and The Elder Scrolls: Blades alike, but with enough determination, players can overcome the pushy monetization mechanics and come out the other side a victor, without having to put down money to buy a big premium currency bundle.
When it comes to Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online though, it’s not such a pretty picture. Fallout 76 players have so many complaints about the game about the bugs and various other issues surrounding it that the title has remained in the mainstream gaming conversation long past the point it should’ve fallen to the wayside.
The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t much better, though at least it hasn’t come with a litany of issues for players to complain about. Although it’s hardly the most exciting Elder Scrolls experience as it isn’t quite in line with Bethesda’s traditional single-player experiences.
If it’s not small additions and skins you’re being asked to pay for in The Elder Scrolls Online, it’s the many DLC packs. Morrowind and Summerset are currently available and Elsweyr will be coming soon along with 11 other, smaller DLC packs you can either get through a subscription service (ESO Plus) or individually. It adds up quickly.
That’s four games Bethesda is currently maintaining, and all four of them happen to have in-game purchases that you could throw money at near infinitely. All of this makes it more difficult to believe that The Elder Scrolls 6 microtransactions are at least on Bethesda’s mind.
In-game class system
It might require a small miracle for The Elder Scrolls 6 to release free from in-game purchases even if they’re not from the traditional marketplaces but Bethesda’s Creation Club instead. As much as the Creation Club page will stress that they are not paid mods, they are essentially paid mods. They’re mods approved by Bethesda, absolutely, but made using the same tools and methodology that any Skyrim modder would.
Anyone, even you, can make and submit a mod to Bethesda’s Creation Club before having it sold through the service and pop up in Skyrim and Fallout 4. The Creation Club even has its own premium currency, Creation Credits, for players to buy and splash on the same kind of content that they would usually be able to download for free — or create themselves — on PC. This Creation Club, is a shoo-in to reappear in The Elder Scrolls 6, just because it makes money.
Although all hope is not lost. Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls Online, and all of Bethesda’s mobile games are structured differently than a traditional Elder Scrolls title. The Elder Scrolls 6 is most likely going to be a single-player experience where the trappings of microtransactions would not apply as easily they would in a mobile or multiplayer game. And while plenty of solo games have microtransactions, this slight disconnect would hopefully dissuade Bethesda enough from including them. After all, nothing has been announced and it still needs to save some face after Fallout 76.
Bethesda recent games have made a bit harder to get excited for The Elder Scrolls 6 and makes it appear as though it is more interested in creating new monetization methods than actual games. The Elder Scrolls: Blades is just the latest money-grabbing app to come from Bethesda, and probably not the last. Given the last few Bethesda games, it’s worrying that a great single-player franchise has the potential to be sullied by anti-consumer practices and is why Elder Scrolls 6 microtranscactions would be so sad to see. Should things come to worst if The Elder Scrolls 6 launches with microtransactions, players who feel adamantly enough about it would probably try not to buy the game. And that’s a self-defeating outcome where no one wins.