Will Elder Scrolls Online Go The Same Way as The Old Republic?

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 The main issue that could cause problems for the game is its outdated subscription model.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.

55fc7938d6fc169cb2Some 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.

Sean Halliday


  1. Mark
    January 15, 2014, 4:56 am

    Won’t be supporting this shitty cashgrab until it goes f2p, which it 100% will.\

    box price+sub+microtransactions? f**k you.

    • Justin Ross
      January 18, 2014, 4:21 pm

      Welcome to the world of MMOs. WoW is the exact same way.

  2. Patrick
    January 19, 2014, 10:39 am

    Even WoW is hemeraging subscribers, though the new expansion will probably gain it some returnees for a little while at least.

  3. David
    March 5, 2014, 8:13 pm

    Just to note, your “the damage was still done” isn’t particularly accurate – SWTOR had a *significant* increase in revenue after going free-to-play. DC Universe took the exact same path. SWTOR is now a major profit center for EA – their profits from services jumped 300 million dollars from 2012 to 2013.

    The thought process with Elder Scrolls may be in fact that they *want* to take the same path as SWTOR. You go for subscriber revenue, get a ton of people for three to six months, then 90% of them quit and you go free-to-play and get all the f2p people you would have gotten originally, plus now you have a subscriber base. If you go free-to-play from the get-go, you never pick up those subscribers. Not to mention that you get initial revenue from the box sales to fund the DLC you’ll need to keep the F2Pers.

    • Sean Halliday
      March 6, 2014, 2:28 am

      There’s still a element of popular opinion seeing SWTOR as a failure. I’m glad the F2P has been a success for them. At the heart of the game it felt like there was something there to enjoy, it was just trapped under a bunch of ‘mehness’. I don’t like seeing any MMO fail (bar War Z) so I’m hoping Elder Scrolls does hit some success, i love MMO’s and hope more big budget MMO’s happen, with EOS proving they can be successfully. Thanks for the comment bud!

  4. Xorcist
    March 11, 2014, 9:15 pm

    SWTOR is a failure unfortunately. Especially after F2P, despite the increase in revenue. That of course is mostly contributed by the Gambling packs or Cartel Packs. It is also popular belief that this is what keeps SWTOR going. Not the revenue that come from Subscriptions. Anytime there is a requirement to nickle and dime even Subscribers, there’s a problem. Just one example is the Barbershop feature. Asking Subscribers to pay for changing hairstyles or color etc. should really be the last straw for any paying customer that already pays a monthly fee. There is a seven page review written about everything from beginning to as recent as this year about SWTOR, BioWare Austin and EA. Believe me. It’s truthful and unfortunate at the same time.

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