Bethesda has announced that the PS4 and Xbox One versions of The Elder Scrolls Online will release on June 9, 2015. The studio also revealed that the MMORPG will no longer require a paid subscription, and is taking the free-to-play route with microtransactions.
When Bethesda stopped selling the 6 month subscription plans for ESO, many gamers saw this as an impending sign of the game going free-to-play, so this news isn’t exactly a surprise.
But the way that the company chose to announce it is a surprise, and it’s a bit confusing. In preparation for the game’s console debut, Bethesda has re-branded the original release into The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.
But don’t worry, if you already have the game you won’t have to buy anything: Bethesda affirms that all existing players and owners of the PC version will automatically be upgraded to the new edition for free.
ESO: Tamriel Unlimited is packed with “all of the gameplay from the original PC release, including all the new content and changes made over the past year”, including the smaller tweaks as well as the Justice and Champion systems.
The new changes take effect on March 17, 2015 for PC owners, where the game will go fully free-to-play. Unused paid subscription time will carry over into ESO Plus, the game’s new premium subscription model.
With ESO Plus you’ll be given a monthly allotment of Crowns (new microtransaction currency) to be spent in the Crown Store (the microtransaction store), as well as access to a host of exclusive items and gear.
So basically if you already own the game on PC you will now be able to play the game for free, but you’ll be tempted with a host of upgrades and “convenience items” sold in the new Crown Store. Xbox One and PS4 gamers will of course have to buy the game at $59.99 to get in, and they’ll need an active PS Plus or Xbox LIVE account (as per the usual for all online games).
Many gamers see microtransactions and certain free-to-play models as the death of traditional MMORPG games.
While it depends on how these models are set–whether or not gamers are encouraged by a pay-to-win model or if the bought items are all cosmetic like in Path of Exile–the general path of going F2P can be seen as a nail in the coffin.
F2P can be immensely lucrative, but usually it makes the most money in mobile-based environments, and isn’t a welcome inclusion for any MMO fan.
It’ll be interesting to see how much it costs to be an ESO Plus member, whether or not you’ll be paying more or less than the traditional subscription fee, or whether it’s actually worth it to subscribe. Only time will tell in this regard.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited edition will launch on March 17 for PC and June 9, 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.