Elder Scrolls Online: Subscription Model Revealed (Gamasutra.com)

Well, not exactly shocking. It never occurred for me that ESO would make a great F2P model as fun, fluffy costumes and such would seem really out of place. That said, ESO has announced a subscription fee: $15/month. That’s been the standard monthly fee for AAA MMOs for the past several years. Thanks to Gamasutra’s reporting of a German gaming website’s interview, we have plenty of the reasons why.

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With only a few big exceptions like World of Warcraft and EVE Online, the subscription model has largely been abandoned by MMO developers.

So it’s notable that one of the most highly-anticipated MMOs — Zenimax Online’s The Elder Scrolls Online — will be charging a $15 monthly fee (/€12.99/£8.99).

Zenimax Online general manager Matt Firor talked about it openly in a new interview with German website Gamestar, and a Zenimax rep confirmed as much with us.

“Charging a flat monthly fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play,” Firor told the website. ESO will also include 30 days of play with the purchase of the game. “Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make.”

The decision flies in the face of current MMO trends, but Firor says the move is “not a referendum” on free-to-play business models, though he does imply that with subscription-based games comes a higher level of quality.

“F2P, B2P, etc. are valid, proven business models — but subscription is the one that fits ESO the best, given our commitment to freedom of gameplay, quality and long-term content delivery,” he said.

It’s a noble sentiment — to want to give players the keys to the castle for a flat (monthly repeating) rate. But players often storm the castle, do everything there is to do in the castle, and then are left twiddling their thumbs wondering what else there is to do, other than being resentful that they’re paying $15 a month. It’s players’ ability to burn through content faster than a developer can create it that gets certain kinds of subscription-based games in trouble.

Firor said for ESO, the plan is to “have new content available every four to six weeks.”

Star Wars: The Old Republic is the most obvious major example of a subscription model that failed. The game had the talent, resources and license to theoretically warrant $15 per month, but in the end, subscriptions dropped off rapidly after a strong launch, and the game adopted free-to-play. Other games like Rift and Tera are just a couple other examples of games that have made the subscription-to-free-to-play switch.

Firor said, “The fact that the word ‘monetized’ exists points to the heart of the issue for us: We don’t want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for – with our system, they get it all.”

ESO is slated to release on PC, Mac and next-gen consoles next year.

WildStar: Business Model Announced = Sub or C.R.E.D.D.

Hearing the business model means WildStar is that much closer to launch! This looks like the best of both worlds for players of all kinds. Either you can subscribe for a monthly fee or you can pay your subscription dues using C.R.E.D.D. you can purchase with in-game gold. Sounds perfect.

UPDATE: Added subscriber pricing at the bottom of this post, thanks to TenTonHammer’s post. If you pay for a year, your price per month drops to $10.99! That’s a $48/year savings over paying month to month. Wow.

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I’ve got two big-ticket things to talk about this week: our anticipated launch date shift and our business model.

Hopefully you saw last week’s State of the Beta blog post by our Design Director (and Beta Pope) Mike Donatelli, so you know we’ve got some big changes in store for WildStar.  We’ve been watching and listening to the outstanding feedback from our Beta community over the last few months and right now, with the changes planned, we’re projecting a Spring 2014 launch. Over the coming months, we’ll also dive into some of the smaller (but just as important) changes we’ve been planning in reaction to beta feedback we’ve seen, so you know what to expect when we ramp up beta again later this year.  Our number one commitment is quality; we think that having a ton of fun, polished content and deep top-level gameplay is a big chunk of what separates the big boys from the also-rans in the online business.

Now, let’s talk about the WildStar business model. Have a seat and let’s talk this through.

The short-form is this: We’ve decided to go with two major options at launch for how you can play the game. We figure at this point in the biz, most players are pretty passionate about what models they will or won’t play – so why not provide options?

First thing’s first: you buy WildStar (either via a box or downloading) – this will give you 30 days of free gameplay. After that, you have two options to play, or pay, for your game time.

Option 1: Monthly subscription

Option 2: C.R.E.D.D.

A monthly subscription is pretty standard fare – you probably know what that’s all about.  Subscribe, and every month you pay for another 30 days of game time.  Straightforward.

But some people don’t like subscriptions. Maybe they just want to play for free, maybe they’ve been burned by a subscription game before and dislike the model.  OK, we hear you – for you guys we have C.R.E.D.D.

This is an item that can be purchased online at the WildStar website, and can then be bought and sold with other players in-game.  This trading happens via the Commodities Exchange – basically a stock market that lets you trade C.R.E.D.D. to other players for earned in-game gold.

So for those of you who don’t want to pay a subscription fee: you can use your first month of gameplay to earn gold while playing WildStar. When the next month comes around, instead of paying the monthly subscription fee, you can use gold earned in-game to purchase C.R.E.D.D. from other players on the CX. Boom, you cash in a C.R.E.D.D for a month of game time. You can continue this cycle over & over again, enabling you to “play to pay” for WildStar.

So that sounds good – but what about those players who don’t have as much time as they’d like to play WildStar, but want a little extra in-game gold? Those folks can purchase C.R.E.D.D. online from our store and trade it on the CX for gold: basically trading their extra cash to help another player play for free in return for a pile of gold. We see this as a safe and secure way for players who want to buy gold to have a way of getting some in-game cash without funding gold farming outfits and all the hacking and scamming that can entail.

We’ve put together a handy guide and collection of Frequently Asked Questions regarding our Biz Model, which you’ll find here. Like all things WildStar, your feedback is crucial to refining and defining the FAQ information found at that link, so we’ll provide regular updates to that page throughout this process, letting you know when we’ve added important information.

We’re at Gamescom this week and will be at PAX at the end of the month, and we’d love to continue the conversation there if you want to come visit us! Check out all the details here to see where and when you can find us.

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The breakdown looks like this:

WildStar Digital and Retail Prices

Standard Box $59.99 €44.99 £34.99

WildStar Subscription Pricing

Subscription Cost Per Month ($) Cost Per Month (€) Cost Per Month (£)
1 Month 14.99 12.99 8.99
3 Months 13.99 11.99 8.49
6 Months 12.99 10.99 7.99
12 Months 10.99 9.99 6.99

WildStar Subscription Total Price Per Time Period

Subscription Total Cost ($) Total Cost (€) Total Cost (£)
1 Month 14.99 12.99 8.99
3 Months 41.97 35.97 25.47
6 Months 77.94 65.94 47.94
12 Months 131.88 119.88 83.88

Xbox One Live Sub Required to Use DVR (IGN.com)

This is unfortunate, but I guess not completely surprising. As I won’t be using the DVR features, it won’t affect my gameplay experience much.

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An Xbox Live Gold subscription  is required to use Xbox One‘s DVR game-capture and video sharing functionality. Gold members will also have access to Skype and Smart Match multiplayer matchmaking, of course, as online play requires a Gold subscription.

Xbox Live Gold’s one-year membership costs $60 in North America, and Xbox 360 users’ existing Gold accounts will unlock access to Skype, DVR, Smart Match, and more when Xbox One releases this November. Currently, Xbox Gold members can get Crackdown for free on Xbox 360.

Xbox One’s DVR captures clips at 30 frames per second in 720p, Microsoft recently told IGN. For more on how Xbox Live works on Xbox One, check out IGN’s detailed wiki guide. Will you upgrade to Gold for game capture and sharing capabilities, or are you an existing member looking forward to the features? Let us know in the comments below.

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