Will Elder Scrolls Online Go The Same Way as The Old Republic?
Elder Scrolls Online is set to be one of the biggest MMORPG launches in the last few years. It’s the first MMO set within the familiar Elder Scrolls universe, and naturally this has a lot of people buzzing. Its subscription-based format bucks the trend of most new MMOs by using free-to-play or one-purchase-only models. Also, the development costs of Elder Scrolls Online are said to be excessive, even for a modern triple-A game. It’s a big risk and it’s a new direction, but haven’t we heard this before? Familiar universe, subscription model, big development costs. I think we have. Remember Star Wars: Old Republic?
I can still recall the sheer amount of hype and excitement that swirled around Star Wars: The Old Republic. It seemed like there wasn’t a single site on the internet that wasn’t covering the game. After all, it was the return of a popular franchise in a new format. This was an MMO with Bioware at the helm, the mighty Bioware who could do no wrong. Well, until late 2011 and all of 2012, anyway.
The Old Republic launched to a fairly positive reception, and the subscriber numbers were impressive. The story-driven nature of the game was seen as a decent method of giving an MMO a bit more of a focus. The general content was met with high acclaim, as was the PvP. But as time went by, the game began to lose its shine. Subscriber numbers plummeted, content dried up, the game began to fade away. The Old Republic became a thorn in the side of both EA and Bioware, leading to a new free-to-play model being launched. While this improved the number of Old Republic’s subscribers, the damage was still done.
The Elder Scrolls Online could quite possibly follow the same path as The Old Republic. The main issue that could cause problems for the game is its outdated subscription model. Recurring fees as a means to play new MMOs give said game a mountain to climb. Games like EvE and WoW can get away with it due to already having established player bases. Traditional MMOs (e.g. the cookie-cutter MMO that doesn’t do anything hugely different) can normally get away with having a subscription model as well. Elder Scrolls Online, however, is trying something a bit different with its first-person combat, and this could hurt its chances of success with a subscription model.
Some may say that brand power will catapult the game to success; this could very well happen. But brand power alone does not carry an MMO for long. Elder Scrolls Online will have a fan following, or at least a following fueled by curiosity, but long-term success is key for any MMO’s survival. The Old Republic went through an initial period of success in its first few months, mainly due to people just checking out the game, and then cancelling their subscription, but this could easily happen to Elder scrolls Online as well.
Given the alleged development costs of Elder Scrolls Online, a fate similar to The Old Republic would be disastrous. The one major advantage Elder Scrolls Online has is the fact it will be the first major MMO to hit consoles. Sure, the likes of DC Universe made their way to consoles as well, but that is not on the same scale as Elder Scrolls, as the lack of marketing for DC Universe on consoles reflected. Perhaps the key to potential success for Elder Scrolls would be its console market rather than the PC. Nevertheless, there’s a huge risk being taken with Elder Scrolls Online in the same way Old Republic was a huge risk.
It’s hard to truly predict how successful–or unsuccessful–Elder Scrolls Online will be, but the similarities toThe Old Republic are quite worrying.