ESO's Subscription Model: Disaster or Starting Point?
It's clear that the days of MMOs being one of those things you pay for every month is nowhere near as prevalent as it used to be. I'd like to say it's rare to see an MMO launching with subscriptions these days, but Elder Scrolls: Online isn't alone in their plans with games like Wildstar and Final Fantasy XIV. Other games like Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic launched with subscription fees but were eventually forced to switch to a more consumer friendly model. (if you want to call restriction action bars behind a paywall 'consumer friendly') Is Zenimax's idea to launch Elder Scrolls: Online with a monthly subscription paving the way for it to be a complete disaster or is it just a step in the road to going with a microtransaction model?
I play a lot of MMOs, but I can pretty much guarantee that Pathfinder Online's Ryan Dancey knows more about MMO consumers, subscription models, and what works because people have actually referred to him as The Steve Jobs of MMO Marketing. and that sounds impressive. In an article that he wrote for MMORPG.com, Dancey goes in depth talking about subscription fees, free to play models, and everything in between. Suggesting that situations like SW:TOR's where they were eventually changed to a microtransaction model aren't a sign of failure but instead a sign of a developer widening the game's appeal.
While my being subscribed to World of Warcraft for the past bajillion years shows that I certainly am not afraid to pay if the quality is right, i'm hesitant to pick up a new one for any extended period of time. Though I can't say that ESO hasn't enticed me.
So, Elder Scrolls Online: Waste of a $200 million dollar budget; or the next World of Warcraft?