Some Hardcore Fans Are So Angry That They’ve Quit ESO For Good

quit eso

Some hardcore fans are so angry about the change from P2P to B2P that they’ve quit ESO for good.

Zenimax Online Studios (ZOS) just can’t win.

Back in 2013 when the company first announced that The Elder Scrolls Online was going to be subscription-based, a lot of gamers were upset. Many couldn’t stand the thought of paying a monthly fee to play the highly anticipated MMORPG. ESO was being developed for next-gen consoles — as well as PC — and console players were especially loathe to pay a subscription plus Xbox Live and PlayStation Network fees.

RELATED: It’s Official: Elder Scrolls Online Cost Is $14.99 Per Month

ESO Was A Subscription-Based Game

Despite the controversy, Matt Firor, Game Director, staunchly defended the subscription-based business model. In an August 2013 interview given to GameStar, Firor explained the reasoning for a subscription:

Charging a flat monthly (or subscription) fee means that we will offer players the game we set out to make, and the one that fans want to play. Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make…

We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play. The Elder Scrolls Online was designed and developed to be a premium experience: hundreds of hours of gameplay, tons of depth and features, professional customer support – and a commitment to have ongoing content at regular intervals after launch. This type of experience is best paired with a one-time fee per month, as opposed to many smaller payments that would probably add up to more than $14.99/month any way.

Things Changed

That said, ZOS did a 180 on January 21st, announcing that The Elder Scrolls Online would no longer require a subscription. Instead, the game was moving to a “buy to play” business model, where gamers could play for free after having purchased a copy. In order to access future downloadable content, players would either have to purchase DLC separately or pay an optional subscription fee for an ESO Plus membership. The game was being re-branded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, and players would now be able to purchase costumes, mounts, pets, and other customization/convenience items in what was being dubbed the Crown Store.

RELATED: Screenshots: New ESO Costumes, Mounts, Pets

eso quit
Some players are so upset with the change to B2P that they’ve quit.

While the shift from “pay to play” to “buy to play” undoubtedly made some fans happy — especially console players waiting to play ESO on Xbox Ones and PS4s — the news was not well received in the ESO Community at large. The official ESO forums lit up with players expressing shock, disbelief, and sadness. For instance, in one active forum thread titled “How do you feel about the B2P announcement,” a player by the name of Dazin93 states:

Dislike because yet again ZOS lied to the community and clearly doesn’t care what the community wants from the game and has only been manipulating their subscribers for ill gotten profits all along.

Hopefully the developers of some new MMO’s on the horizon will keep their word and ESO will join the ranks of so many other MMO’s; a distant memory.

A few posts later, DigitalCow writes:

That’s it! I’m done, I’m wiping my hands clean on this game! I came into this fantastic game because it wasn’t like any other MMO. Now look at this, a slap to the face and a kick to the shins, there is no difference anymore this a just a plain old MMO. Spending over a hundred dollars for the Imperial Collectors Edition. Pizza and soda ready for this amazing game with early access! I feel in love from that day on this was my MMO an MMO I know I wont be leaving anytime soon. This is just disappointing!

Is this because of those dirty Console peasants! That they have to ruin our game!

Hardcore Fans Quit ESO

Not every post was against the business model change, but the vast majority were.

So why all the hate?

Basically it boils down to a few key issues:

  1. That moving away from P2P will result in an influx of of botters, gold spammers, and trolls,
  2. That ZOS used PC gamers to more-or-less “beta test” ESO for consoles, and that the company can’t be trusted to keep their word,
  3. That because ZOS can’t be trusted to keep their word, B2P will eventually erode into P2W (“pay-to-win”), where casual gamers will be encouraged to purchase buffs, special armor sets, etc. in the Crown Store that will give advantages over and above items that can be found in-game.

In fairness to ZOS, the issues above are based on speculation, and technically the game isn’t turning free-to-play. In a Twitch broadcast shown the same day as the controversial announcement, Matt Fior says:

I think it’s important to say at this time, very important to state at the top, that we’re not actually changing the game to go free-to-play. That the game that you’re playing right now — if you’re a player — we’re not dumbing it down. We’re not incenting players to pay through the cash shop by having a dumbed down version of the game.

Basically, the game that you’re playing today is the game that you’re going to play when it goes buy-to-play.

He further explains that B2P is a much more “standard” model as opposed to P2P.

Still, some players were so incensed over the change and the perceived lack of trustworthiness, that they’ve quit ESO entirely — cancelling their subscriptions and uninstalling the game from their PCs. The exact number of players who quit isn’t known, but the forums have a number of players who either said they’ve either quit or are planning to do so once The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited goes live on March 17, 2015.

The switch from P2P to B2P has caused quite a stir among current subscribers — subscribers who Matt Firor acknowledged during the Twitch broadcast are the “hardcore fans.” Not all the hardcore fans are against the business model switch mind you (see the forum thread “I don’t get the change to b2p hubub“), but I’m not sure if Matt Firor et al expected this level of vexation and angst among the faithful.

Again, ZOS just can’t win.

Final Thoughts

After the Skyrim Fansite published an earlier article touching on some of this post’s themes (“The Elder Scrolls Online Will Be Free To Play: Fans Are Freaking Out“), I was asked by a few readers what my personal feelings were regarding the change…

So here you go:

  • Like many others, I was surprised at the announcement. I knew (or thought I knew) ZOS’s position regarding their P2P business model. During the last year in fact, I found myself put in the position of having to defend the reasons for a subscription-based model in this very blog. Early on, our readers wanted ESO to be free to play, and most likely still do today.
  • Personally, I like ESO the way it is now, and don’t mind paying the subscription fee. I feel the P2P model helped fill the Community with mature gamers, and provided an environment for ZOS to stop the bots and spammers that once plagued the game shortly after release.
  • Even though I’d prefer that the business model didn’t change (purely selfish reasons), I appreciate the fact that sub fees are a huge barrier to console gamers and others. I also appreciate that ZOS needs to make money. Lots of money. I don’t begrudge ZOS their profits. B2P may help bring in thousands of new players, and may be just what is needed to keep the game I love going strong now and into the future.
  • Changing from P2P to B2P may not be as dire as a lot of my fellow hardcore gamers think. B2P may actually be a welcome success — bringing in good gamers (both PC and console) who under the old sub model wouldn’t or couldn’t play. Having to actually buy a copy of the game (and DLC) may provide the barrier needed to keep the botters, spammers, and trolls out of the game.
  • As long as ZOS doesn’t transition The Elder Scrolls Online to “play to win,” I truly believe the Community and the game itself will be just fine. I sympathize with the anger of my fellow hardcore players, but I believe we need to keep calm and game on. Change is coming, and change may bring danger. True enough, but change may also bring opportunity, and we should never forget that.

That’s my two septims, but how do you feel about this issue? Share your thoughts and opinions in the Speak Your Mind section below.


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Shane Scarbrough
Shane Scarbrough

Shane Scarbrough is the founder of the Skyrim Fansite. He's a business owner, video game journalist, and role playing game aficionado. When he’s not working he enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games. He's currently on his third playthrough of Skyrim, and is playing as a Templar in The Elder Scrolls Online. You can find Shane on Google+ and FaceBook.

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