Elder Scrolls Online subscription fee “fit best what we wanted to do,” says Hines

Tuesday, 25th February 2014 12:23 GMT By Dave Cook

The Elder Scrolls Online bucks the wide-spread trend of MMO games going free-to-play, and Bethesda’s VP of marketing Pete Hines has explained that the charge best-fits what Zenimaz Online Studios is looking to achieve. Namely; significant and regular content drops.

It follows my impressions of the last Elder Scrolls Online beta, during which I said I wouldn’t pay a monthly fee for the game as it stands. That could change of course, depending on how substantial this additional content is.

Speaking with CVG, Hines explained, “If you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth for whatever you’re paying – whether it be $15 for a month or $2 for a DLC – then you’re going to be happy. If you’re not, then you won’t. You could do a free-to-play game where somebody wasn’t happy, because maybe they don’t feel like they’re getting value for the money that they played upfront, even if it’s not a pay-by-month subscription.

“We felt like the subscription model fit best what we wanted to do, not because we want you to pay per month to play the game, but because we want to provide real and meaningful content support on a regular basis. That’s not just a few items or a thing here and there, that’s real significant stuff that adds to the game in a whole host of ways, and doing so needs a good sized group of people who are working on and creating new stuff. That’s stuff we can start working on now, as well as stuff we can work on when we start to get player feedback.”

He added, “There’s a couple of Guild quest lines in the game at the moment, but there are certainly noticeable Guilds that aren’t in the game – there’s no Dark Brotherhood, for example. You can’t set aside a bunch of people to work on a cool Dark Brotherhood quest line unless you’ve figured out a way that you’re going to pay those bodies to spend that time. Otherwise you’d just put them onto something else.

“We feel like this approach is going to give people who want to play the best value, and reason to look forward to the next new thing that’s coming out. The Elder Scrolls is our crown jewel and it’s the series that made everything we do possible, so it’s a big triple-A title that demands huge, ongoing triple-A support.”

What do you make of the above? Would you need to see what this additional content is before laying down a subscription fee, or are you happy to get invested from launch? Let us know below.



  1. ij 44


    “..has explained that the charge best-fits what Zenimaz Online Studios is looking to achieve. Namely; significant and regular content drops. make a fuck ton of money by milking the brand until it dies

    Easy. Submitting editor should have done that. Now can I have a job?

    #1 10 months ago
  2. orren

    I have to spend my free time to play a computer game. My free time is FAR more valuable to me than 50 cents a day. Therefore, any game that is worth spending my free time on is also worth spending 50 cents a day on.

    With that in mind, subscription is the superior model for me, as it saves me from having to deal with the constant “buy Buy BUY” nagging so omnipresent in most F2P games. I get enough of that in real life, really don’t need to deal with it in a fantasy environment as well, thankyouverymuch.

    #2 10 months ago
  3. fearmonkey

    I have yet to find a FTP MMO that has captured me for any period of time.
    All the best FTP MMO’s started off as pay MMO’s and none of them captured me.

    I never wanted to stop playing during the TESO betas, I don’t mind a fee if the gameplay and updates warrant it.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. ddtd

    @fearmonkey What about Guild Wars?

    Guild Wars 2 is pretty great, and after the initial cost if the game, there’s nothing to buy, other than expansion packs.

    #4 10 months ago
  5. Solarmon

    Personally, I went WoW’s subscription for a long time, simply because I felt I had no choice and I had already invested too much time just to leave only to look for a similar, cheaper experience. Nowadays, I have a lot of choices from the very beginning, as many MMO offer a similar satisfying experience. Also, my budget is tighter these days, and there are more games to try out. On top, there are possibly roughly 13 million players out there who would pay a WoW subscription now and then just for sentimentality reasons, and I cannot imagine many player to pay multiple subscriptions. Therefore, players nowadays will likely be much more cautious before they invest money into a time-sink that a good computer game can be.

    All in all, there is no chance for Zenimax for me to buy and subscribe their game, even if it was a very good game. If there is a majority of players like me out there, Zenimax is right to be anxious.

    The most I would be ready to invest would be either b2p on sales or a moderate monthly fee, but certainly not both. Currently, I am very happy to have EVE, SWTOR, TSW and Neverwinter on my PC. All four are very enjoyable games and I see no immediate need to have “more fun” or a “better game”. Plus, they cost me together considerable less than ESO would and no monthly fees are involved (EVE’s subscription fee can be paid with in-game achievements if you play it well enough).

    #5 10 months ago
  6. Solarmon

    Have to add that the idea of a persistent Skyrim (which of course rests also in a modded form on my PC) has some attractiveness. But this is one of the hot topics, and many do claim that ESO is not a persistent Skyrim.

    My beta experience confirmed for me the feeling that it is not. No scabbards, no movable nonsense objects, and all those even more unrealistic MMO mechanics on top, like a gazillion different weapons which you have to exchange every second level just in order to stay on top. with all the annoying excel-like inventory management associated, brrrr, no, thanks. I had just managed to mod this out of Skyrim!

    #6 10 months ago
  7. StardogE

    I would just like to say that if the game doesn’t improve vastly in the short time left before release, it will be a dismal failure. The writing is horrible. The AI is awful. If I were to make a Twitch stream it would be a comedy, and not only because of my dumb mistakes. I can tell that they responded to feedback I gave on previous beta weekend events, but I can also say that the game is actually less impressive now than it was when I first tested it. I’m not sure how that’s even possible. The player choices are all inconsequential. The NPC motives are foggy at best. HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD (all from the first 6 levels of play):

    Example 1: Here, you stranger, I am a commander in this army and I can’t make a decision to save my life about some undead peeps wandering about of late. You look as good as any other passing stranger, why not come and tell me how to do my job. Thank you very much. Which commander am I? Take your pick, because apparently there is no shortage of officers here who cannot make a decision without asking for help and advice from any wanderer who happens by.

    Example 2: Hey, you’re new here. Before you set one foot inside this city of mine, I need to know if you’ll follow me and begin your next quest. Now choose. What? Oh those objective markers we’re passing on the way to my oh-so-important goal? Just ignore them until it’s too late to do anything about them, or you can stop following me to check them out and get lost on the way. Oh, and when we get there, I’ll tell you to wait here while in reality I want you to follow me inside. And once inside, some silly noble is going to ask you to kill some of his ancestors and rob their tomb. And then you’ll be asked again if you want to follow the next guy in the quest as he leads the way past other things you might like to investigate on your way to your next quest marker. But don’t worry, we’re not trying to force you into a linear play style or anything.

    Example 3: Look, you’re dead and I’m not. But don’t worry, I’m eventually going to sacrifice my own freedom so you can get out of this awful place, even though we’ve just met. Oh, and don’t worry about me when we get to those spear traps. I’ll be sure to go and stand right on top of them even though we will both watch them pop up and down repeatedly beforehand. They won’t kill me anyway because apparently nothing can here. Just watch.

    Example 4: Look, you’ve been unconscious for a bit because you apparently had some accident before turning up on our island, but you obviously can handle jobs that my entire company couldn’t take care of, so why don’t you run around like an errand boy and personal goon for a few days because nobody else around here is clearly as capable as you, Mr. Washed-Up-On-The-Shore-and-Laid-Up-In-Bed-Until-5-Minutes-Ago…

    Example 5: Yay! You’re our hero! You saved the fort, Mr. Stranger! Apparently killing 5 or 6 weak and uninspiring mobs was a job that nobody else in the entire fort could handle, so thank you for saving us all! Yay!

    Example 6: Hey, you! Yeah, you! Get this… even though you’re this awesome amazing nobody who can save everybody, if you want to do some dirty work for money, go steal me a bottle of liquor from some guy because clearly anyone interested in the art of acquisitions must also have nothing better to do than take unimportant nothings from unimportant nobodies for shiftless losers who are too lazy to go and steal it themselves.

    Example 7: Hello Mr. Mysterious-Sounding-Nickname, I know that flashbacks are horrible methods of sharing boring exposition in all sorts of fiction, so I’m not going to give you a flashback to clue you… I’m going to force you to wander through one of MY flashbacks instead. Why? Because boring exposition is so much more fun when you’re beat about the head and shoulders with it and forced to endure it to completion. Because even though you have no clue who these people are and why they are here, I want you to care about them. NOW CARE, DARN YOU, CARE!!!!

    #7 10 months ago

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