Hard-core The Elder Scrolls fans are known for sinking hundreds of hours into the single-player games. They're likely to spend even longer immersed in the upcoming MMO set in the same universe; The Elder Scrolls Online could be one of the most addictive video games ever. Now, we know how much you'll have to pay to support the habit. The game rings in at $60 on its own, and the first month is free. After that, you'll have to cough up $15 per month to avoid going into withdrawl.
Matt Firor, General Manager of ZeniMax Online, explained the rationale behind the subscription-based approach in an interview with GameStar. Here's the relevant snippet:
The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want. 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. 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. 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 any way.
Instead of ordering a la carte, players will have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet for a flat monthly fee. Firor says they won't have to "worry about being "monetized" in the middle of playing." If ESO can deliver the quality players have come to expect from the franchise and the regular injections of new content Firor promises, a monthly charge doesn't seem unreasonable.
With most MMOs going the the freemium route, The Elder Scrolls Online will need to be something special. The E3 gameplay trailer got fans of the series pretty excited, so maybe it is.
Take my money... or an arrow to the knee?
The Elder Scrolls Online is due to be released in the spring. According to Firor, "tens of thousands of players" are in the PC beta already, and more will be added through the fall. If you want to get in on the beta yourself, there's a sign-up page right here.