Zenimax has not announced Elder Scrolls Online pricing yet, however, does the business model they select significantly affect gameplay? Every business model will have pro and cons and some have strong opinions when it comes to Elder Scrolls Online pricing. Business models have three common flavors.
The traditional business model for MMO’s is the subscription model. Every account pays a set amount each month for unlimited play, at least in American and European countries. All players start equal and progression is based on the amount of time you play for the most part.
The main advantage of this business model is that no one has an inherent advantage. You have to put in time to advance. Not that you don’t with other business models, but it can be excessive with subscription MMO’s. Faction locking players is most effective with this business model. The main disadvantage is that developers will try to slow down progression to keep you playing longer. Most rewards are earned through investing time and not necessarily being skilled.
Based on a $15 a months subscription, players will pay $180 a year not counting the initial purchase or future expansion purchases.
Elder Scrolls Online Buy To Play
You purchase the game and can play forever without putting anymore money into it. Frequent expansions are released to keep revenue coming in. This business model is a little bit newer.
The main advantage of this business model is that it encourages frequent content expansions. There is not necessarily any adva
ntage to keep players addicted as long as possible since revenue only comes from expansions. This is also a modular approach since you can buy only the content you want.
Another advantage is you can take a break from a game and not worry about canceling or renewing any subscriptions. Of course the main disadvantage of this is that content expansions may not be balanced. If an expansion is designed to put players that do not purchase it at a severe disadvantage then most of the advantages are nullified.
Assuming one expansion a year at $60, players average $5 a month to access all content.
What if there is not any Elder Scrolls Online pricing? What if ESO is free to play? This business model requires an item shop or some form of paid premium content to exist, but requires zero upfront cost.
The main advantage of this business model is obviously the price. You pay nothing to play, at least not for the core game. Faction locking is all, but pointless in free to play games. It only punishes the actual customers that purchase content and support the game. This may be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your opinion on faction locking. To some extent, item shops discourage gold farmers since in-game money is less desirable than it is under other business models.
The disadvantages to Elder Scrolls Online being free to play are numerous. There are no barriers to switching factions. This makes it easy for a fourth faction to exist. If Elder Scrolls Online pricing is free to play, there is very little consequences for people who choose to hack, scam and exploit. Probably the biggest disadvantage is that players are not equal. If not implemented well, item shops can give rise to pay to win gameplay.
If Elder Scrolls Online is free to play the average player will pay nothing. A minority of players, the whales, will generate most of the company’s revenue. This is more apparent in this model, but is true for all business models. A few players buy every accessory, collectable and have multiple accounts. Players with many accounts, 5-10+, in subscription models are not as uncommon as you may think.
Of course there are hybrid of these various business models as well, but they are far less common. Since the Elder Scrolls Online pre-order is already available, I would assume Elder Scrolls Online pricing will be either a subscription or buy to play. What is your preference for business model and why?
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