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Pete Hines Talks ESO Subscriptions

Posted Wed, Feb 26, 2014 by Lewis B

In an interview with CVG published a couple of days ago, Bethesda's Pete Hines talks about many things. There are however two questions that cought my eye and both involve The Elder Scrolls Online. Although nothing enormously new was said, it's interesting to get a sense of the pressure they're under.

CVG: There's been a lot of talk about the Elder Scrolls Online subscription model. I'm curious about the Xbox One requirement to have a Gold subscription as well as an ESO one. Has that affected your outlook regarding the game's performance on that platform?

Pete Hines: I don't know how much it has. I mean, ultimately that is really only applicable to the subset of people who don't already have a Gold subscription to play anything online, because that's the point: if you want to play anything online on an Xbox One you have to have a Gold subscription. We simply fall into that category as well. It's really only [a problem] to people who would only want to play ESO but no other multiplayer games.

Having said that, it is what it is. I can't change it or really have any say in it, so hopefully the folks that feel like ESO is a game they want to play are folks that are playing multiplayer stuff online anyway and it won't be a big deal.

CVG: Elder Scrolls is probably your flagship series at Bethesda. Star Wars: The Old Republic didn't work with a subscription model and that's one of the biggest entertainment brands in the world. Is there any anxiety about this model not working?

Pete Hines Anxiety? I would say yes, because I'm anxious about everything all the time [laughs]. I don't get paid to sit around and assume that everything is fine, so I tend to worry about everything and I want to make sure that we're doing things in the right way for the right reasons. But I guess, to answer your question, I don't know whether or not previous games that have done subscriptions haven't succeeded because they were subscription-based, or because of the game that they were and the value that the customer got, and that's ultimately what we're talking about.

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.

Can a singleplayer, narrative-driven shooter succeed in 2014?

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.

To read the full interview, in its entirity, hit this link.

Let's be honest. SWTOR failed because of the game, not because of it's payment model. If it would have been epic, then the game would have done well with sub. The devs just didn't put out a quality game for the masses. It was way to buggy and really didn't have a lot of content for their target audience.
I'm not saying ESO will or won't do well with the sub model, what I'm saying is it's not the payment model that hurt SWTOR and I think the person that asked it doesn't understand the MMORPG industry or the gamers.

I agree with Azzras; SWTOR didn't fail because of the subscription model, it failed because of the lousy job they did with end game. The individual story lines were great (although, I have to admit, I could only bring 3 characters close to end game after the first one was doing end game content because I got bored).

I suspected as soon as I saw the hefty price tag on the game that it wouldn't be long for the subscription world and they wanted to make as much money up front as possible. Quite frankly, the game failed because there wasn't enough content added quickly enough to keep the masses happy. And end-game dungeons? Was like banging your head against a brick wall with 7 or 15 of your closest friends. It was do-able, but too many people gave up.

PvP was alright, but they didn't add enough new PvP content in the first months of the game to keep die-hard pvp'ers happy.

SWTOR had the unfortunate task of following RIFT in release, and let's face it - RIFT kept the content coming for those players that rush through content.

After playing a F2P model game (Neverwinter) for the past year, I find it tedious and frustrating to have to either transfer astral diamonds or buy zen to get keys or other items in game that seem to be almost necessary to improve your character.

I prefer a subscription model, and I hope ESO is able to stick to it. I'm quite happy paying a monthly fee if I'm getting my money's worth in content or special events.

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