Last year, Bethesda announced that its sister company, Zenimax Online Studios, would be making Elder Scrolls Online, much to the joyful proclamations of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim fans. At the time, it was only known that it would be coming around in 2013, and now as the time draws near, Bethesda has revealed that it will be using a monthly subscription system rather than a freemium business model.
The announcement was made in a fairly lengthy statement today, with Bethesda stressing that its decision is not commentary on other business models, such as the popular freemium model that is used with many games. Instead, the decision reflects what the develop feels is best for Elder Scrolls Online in particular and those who will play it. Said the statement:
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.
The decision comes at a time when many online gamers find themselves frustrated with the barrage of in-game purchases. The recently launched Plants vs. Zombies 2, for example, has earned quite a bit of criticism from gamers over how it handles this issue, with many stating that they'd rather have just paid a flat fee for the game rather than play under the model chosen.
Aside from the subscription model announcement, Bethesda didn't have much to say on the game itself. Those who play will have access for 30 day for free, with the purchase itself providing everything for the players. After that month, the players can then continue on as usual under the monthly payment structure.