Just yesterday, we learned that the upcoming Elder Scrolls MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO), would officially employ a standard subscription-based model that is so rare nowadays. Now, we learned that TESO will also implement a cash shop on top of that system.
Whenever an MMO in the post-WoW world releases with a subscription model, the gaming world takes bets on how long that model will last until the game switches over to free-to-play. Even prevalent, popular properties handled by beloved developers can’t get away with a subscription model anymore — just look at what happened with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Even World of Warcraft is losing subscriptions at an alarming rate. For all the hate the free-to-play cash shop model receives, gamers have deemed it the model of choice by opting to play those games more than ones that require a subscription. However, it seems we’re still not past that subscription mentality, and TESO will give it a go.
What’s different about TESO, though, is that it will include a cash shop on top of that model, giving players the worst of both worlds — a subscription and microtransactions.
Director of The Elder Scrolls Online, Matt Firor, confirmed to AusGamers the inclusion of the cash shop. He stated it won’t include in-game bonus points, but will include fun stuff (we assume that means things like cosmetics, as is standard MMO cash shop practice), as well as services like name changes.
When done right, free-to-play models and cash shops are totally fine. Games like Dungeons and Dragons Online have a great cash shop model, where games like Defiance have an ideal one-time purchase model where the extra cash shop is completely superfluous, but allows you to purchase some cosmetics. So, while a subscription is still an odd move for TESO, the cash shop could easily not pose a threat to the gameplay experience. However, “this game has a subscription and a cash shop” is not an immediately positive statement to hear.