What is the Target Market for The Elder Scrolls Online?

Updated Tue, Jan 08, 2013 by gunky

What is the Target Market for the Elder Scrolls Online?

In a way, every major MMO is kind of a Frankenstein's monster, cobbled together from assorted parts exhumed from other games or wired together in strange new ways. Usually, we can tell what kind of monster it's going to be during the development stage - the marketing gives us a glimpse at the final form by skewing towards a specific type of player. For example, if the game is being built with hardcore gamers in mind, the marketing will focus on the lore of the setting, building up a world that these players will want to immerse themselves in. If the game is being marketed to a more casual or young crowd, the marketing will focus on stuff that can be enjoyed in short, infrequent sessions (like PvP matches). If the game is being sold to MMO players, the marketing will focus on the social aspects of the game.

The marketing for The Elder Scrolls Online, however, is all over the map. It seems to be trying to appeal to everyone at once - hardcores, casuals and MMO'ers. This is kind of confusing from a company like Zenimax Online, which usually knows exactly who is buying its games. On the other hand, according to Game Director Matt Firor in their YouTube video, An Introduction to The Elder Scrolls Online, it may be intentional. "We're bringing two different groups of players together," he says. "We've got the Elder Scrolls crowd, which is used to great games like Skyrim and Oblivion and Morrowind and the older games, and then we've got the MMO crowd which is used to all the great MMOs from the last 15 years."

Target Market for Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls series has had an interesting history. The first game, Arena, was clearly marketed at the hardcore gamer crowd - it was difficult enough that many new players had a hard time surviving through the introductory dungeon. Daggerfall stayed on that same track, giving players a super-massive game world to explore paired with an incredibly detailed character skill system that included languages and other non-combat skills. Morrowind, the first in the series to be available on consoles, eased back a bit on the difficulty in favor of ramped-up visuals, and this trend continued with Oblivion and Skyrim. Each game looked better than the last, and the UI and character system became more console-y.

Much of ESO's official press so far has been filling out the setting. The "Ask Us Anything" feature on the official site has been largely focused on the three player factions. In their Development news section, every article so far has been lore-based. This is a fairly clear appeal to the hardcore fans of the Elder Scrolls series - Zenimax Online is letting us know that this is, after all, an Elder Scrolls game, and the lore will be consistent. The setting will be familiar to those of us who have immersed ourselves in the previous games, who have read the hundreds of books we "accidentally stole" from bookshelves in NPC homes.

To be fair, the single-player RPGs in the series have been outstanding, and the underlying lore is vast. There's a reason that the "Elder Scrolls Crowd" is as large and devout as it is, and a reason why their expectations for ESO are sky-high. The promise that ESO will have everything the other games had is a big one.

Target Market for Elder Scrolls Online

There will be one rather significant thing missing from TESO that has been a constant draw for the series' previous titles: user-generated content. The Elder Scrolls Construction Set, which allowed players to mod or create pretty much anything in the single-player games, is not likely to be an option for a massive MMO. This is going to be a disappointment for some - particularly the fans of the H-Cup lingerie mods of the single-player games - but it makes sense. Single-player games need mods to extend the gameplay, but MMOs by their very nature do not, really. In a single-player game, you run a dungeon once, kill the boss, get the loot and it's done. In a MMO, you can run the same dungeon a dozen times and each time is slightly different.

The MMO Crowd is being lured in by the proposed integration of social networking websites. Players will be able to create a guild page on Facebook, have their friends and guildies join up there, and then import it directly into the game when it launches. Twitter and Google+ will also be integrated into the game. This will mean that guilds can be managed without third-party websites that do essentially the same job - leaders can schedule events on Facebook, tweet important announcements, share awesome screenshots on Tumblr and who knows what else. Basically, anything you can do on your average pre-made guild website will be seamlessly integrated through the social media sites that everybody already uses - no more signing up for the umpteenth account, forgetting URLs and passwords and all the other hassle of adding another new website to your long list.

You touched on what I consider to be two of the biggest challenges ZeniMax Online is going to have to overcome for TESO.

First, part of the franchise success rests on being a cross-platform series. They have their work cut out for them in terms of encouraging gamers to put down their gamepad and get back to their PC if they want to play the next major Elder Scrolls game.

The second hurdle is the modding community. I'm one of those ES players who likes the base games well enough, but won't cross that threshold of being truly hooked until I begin heavily modding certain aspects of the game. As a hardcore MMO gamer I'm personally not too concerned by how the lack of modding will impact my TESO experience, but again, it might be a harder sell for those deeply involved in the modding communities.

Otherwise, the bits of the Frankenstein's monster that I've seen so far have been stitched together quite well, so things look promising so far.

I'm a big player of Skyrim and Oblivion, but all I see in TESO are sub-Skyrim graphics and combat and the opportunity to be griefed while experiencing them.

The graphics I've seen have been almost the equal of Skyrim, and expecting graphical perfection in an MMO is unfeasible. I would think that the gameplay would be a far higher priority.
And as far as griefing is concerned, I doubt it. PvP's limited to Cyrodill, it's going to be three-way rather than free-for-all, and any player past level 10 will be boosted to cap. Not gonna be much scope for picking on the little guy.

I agree with you, the gameplay can be learned in a couple of hours, in fact it's just a matter of custom. For example, when I first played Gothic 1 I wanted to quit so bad because I hated the gameplay but I gave it a chance (or many) and I got used to it. Then I loved the game! And I still do.
Donna @ portisco charter.

I do agree with the problems you mentioned, namely that people coming from the single-player games will lament the lack of mods, and MMO players may be thrown by the openness that TES is known for. Yes, combining both crowds is going to result in something of a Frankengame, but that's pretty inevitable, and is going to happen regardless of who they target the game towards.

Besides, I don't see how appealing to those different playstyles (RPGers, casuals etc) has to be a problem. Just give people options and let the mighty Megaserver keep them apart.

TESO does look very much like Skyrim but the story is different and we should be glad that we have new opportunities. I don't think that we should consider it a failure just because it looks a lot like another games. That is not the point in considering a game good or bad.
Cheers! Donna from yacht charter cesme.

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