SHOULD THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE GO FREE-TO-PLAY?

From the moment it was announced the next entry in The Elder Scrolls series would be an MMO, buy eso gold maybe make your game more interesting the prospect of the game demanding a subscription fee has been an intensely debated topic. Huge swathes of people proclaimed ESO was dead in the water if it launched requiring a monthly fee, while a smaller subset quietly countered that such a move was needed for the title to succeed. When it eventually was confirmed that, yes, the game would require a monthly subscription, the debate seemed to intensify rather than lessen, and has continued to do so ever since launch in the face of console delays and a mixed reaction to endgame design.

The truth is, I don’t know if ESO will ditch its sub fee. No-one does. Steering toward the issue in a recent interview with creative director Paul Sage I was told “no comment”, so unfortunately I’ve no more official insight than you guys. But as Star Wars: The Old Republic’s first crack at its free-to-play conversion shows us, such a change is far from straightforward. To that end I spoke to Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman and Gameforge CEO Carsten Van Husen – two gentlemen with a wealth of experience in both MMOs and F2P conversions – to find out whether ditching the sub fee really is the right path for an MMO to take, or if it’s a fallacy that such a move can change the game’s fortunes.

The question at the core of the debate that needs addressing is why a developer or publisher would want to move from the predictability offered by a recurring subscription to the uncertainty of a free-to-play model. Consumers merrily argue for such changes, but what’s in it for the manufacturers? According to Hartsman, it’s an issue of accessibility. In the days when MMOs were young and online gaming was very much a niche habit, subscription fees acted as a mutually beneficial contract between gamer and developer. These days, however, with so much choice out there it’s more important than ever to offer the flexibility that enables communities to form.

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