And so the rumors were true – Elder Scrolls Online is dropping subscriptions and is turning into a buy-to-play MMORPG, in the style of Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, for example. Most likely motivated by a massive drop in player numbers, as is usually the case after the initial spike, Zenimax decided to make the change in the hope of drawing more players into the world of Tamriel. The new name will be The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited and the game will be released in Xbox One and PS4 on June 9th, with the PC/Mac version going B2P in March 17. There’s a new trailer called The Confrontation to go with the announcement.
However, you can always sign up to the optional ESO Plus premium membership “to receive monthly in-game benefits and a monthly allotment of crowns to spend in the store”. The new in-game Crown Store “will offer convenience and customization items”, so while Elder Scrolls Online isn’t going free-to-play, a cash shop will exist anyway, hopefully without items that will break the game balance or make you hit paywalls.
There were some regular hints that there was something brewing in the Elder Scrolls Online reign. First there were massive layoffs in June 2014, then the 6-month subscription option was dropped last December, and finally ESO was regularly pulled from Australian shelves as of late. Now it’s up to the players to say yes or no to the new business model.