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.
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