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General: Should Elder Scrolls Online Be F2P?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,585MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In today's Free Zone, we take a look at the recently announced Elder Scrolls Online and wonder if, just maybe, it should become a free-to-play title. See what we think and then add your thoughts in the comments.

As of last week, the identity of Zenimax Online's MMOG is finally out of the proverbial bag. Not that it was very difficult to guess. There were really only two possible IPs, both associated with sister studio Bethsoft. However, since the right to make Fallout Online has been at the center of a legal dispute with Interplay, which left The Elder Scrolls Online as the clear first choice. And the open world nature of the RPGs certainly seemed like a natural fit. So, probably like a great many others, I wasn't surprised in the least.

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: Should Elder Scrolls Online Be F2P?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • DistopiaDistopia Baltimore, MDPosts: 16,902Member Uncommon

    I'd prefer a SUB or B2P with all the talk about PVP.

    For every minute you are angry , you lose 60 seconds of happiness."-Emerson

    It is a sign of a defeated man, to attack at ones character in the face of logic and reason- Me

  • obiiobii WienPosts: 779Member Uncommon

    They do not need to go f2p for the masses.

    A good B2p with an itemshop like GW would attract also more people.

    On the other hand if they do a system like LOTR many people would also be in favor of that.

  • SampparoundSampparound VPosts: 43Member Uncommon

    Why not have both? You can choose if you want a set rate to pay for all the features, or you can play for free with some limitations which you can unlock by paying for each feature. EQ and EQ2 already operates like this, seems to me like the best of both worlds.

    I for one don't see myself playing a free to play MMORPG. I'm more than happy to play for good service.

    Slacker extraordinaire!

  • MephsterMephster Tyria, NJPosts: 1,188Member

    I think they are safer with a B2P model with optional microtrancasctions like ArenaNet does.  I think your mmo has to be really good to have good success with a P2P model now.

    Grim Dawn, the next great action rpg!

    http://www.grimdawn.com/

  • JakdstripperJakdstripper logan lake, BCPosts: 2,126Member Uncommon

    it will start as a Buy2play sub based game.

    after 6 months it will go to Buy2play without a subscriptin but with a very mild cash shop.

    and it will end with a F2Puchase F2P with a horrendous cash shop within a year.

  • palulalulapalulalula vukovarPosts: 655Member

    Wau it is amazing how many articles we have on mmorpg.com with ---'Should ''grhkkddd game'' be f2p. And you get really paid for that???? 

  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,605Member

    Purchase + sub + cash shop.  When the game slows down, they can switch to f2p, utilizing the groundwork the set up in the cash shop as a foundation. 

  • ace5572ace5572 Perrysburg, OHPosts: 113Member

    I've been playing Elder Scrolls since Morrowind in the early 2000s. Its my all-time favorite RPG series, it even beats out KOTOR. But if the mmo they're working on is as bad as they're making it look then they better make it f2p. For their sake.

  • PuremallacePuremallace Phoenix, AZPosts: 1,856Member

    There is no "should it be F2P" there is the simple reality that it will be forced to be f2p. YOU CANNOT make anything in that game make sense in a mmorpg format. It will simply not be the same game. Nothing will make sense at all.

  • MephsterMephster Tyria, NJPosts: 1,188Member

    Originally posted by Puremallace

    There is no "should it be F2P" there is the simple reality that it will be forced to be f2p. YOU CANNOT make anything in that game make sense in a mmorpg format. It will simply not be the same game. Nothing will make sense at all.

    You mean traditional mmo format. God forbid anyone makes something untraditional and good these days. :)

    Grim Dawn, the next great action rpg!

    http://www.grimdawn.com/

  • This is 2012, games are significantly less successful and make less money if they are not free 2 play.

  • mmofreak888mmofreak888 Chicago, ILPosts: 9Member

    yes B2P is the future of mmo.

  • DakirnDakirn Kansas City, MOPosts: 374Member Uncommon

    Are you guys going to start copying and pasting this article to every MMO that gets announced?

    It's not like your speculation a year ahead of time is going to change how they release it. I was hoping the site would find some actual information on the game but I guess speculation will have to do for now.

    My speculation is that the entire premise of the game seems to be a money grab and no innovation. I'm not sure why this game is getting hyped up so much. I guess I can't wrap my head around a modern MMO that says "well, we don't have quests but if you kill all the mobs in an area you'll get a reward."

    And, being a money grab, I'm sure they'll have every option available they can think of.



     

  • mmofreak888mmofreak888 Chicago, ILPosts: 9Member

    remember 20 years ago u have to buy cellphone and buy usage plan, now they give cell phone away just to make u signup their plan.  MMo is going the same route, its not about quality its about competition.  Once someone start doing it everyone will have to follow.

     

     

     

     

  • alkarionlogalkarionlog SPosts: 1,124Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Terranah

    Purchase + sub + cash shop.  When the game slows down, they can switch to f2p, utilizing the groundwork the set up in the cash shop as a foundation. 




     

    so pretty much you are sayng its ok to F**** players who start from day 1. its also means if players was any smart they could let the game go f2p before you even look at it.

     

    I swear I never will understand why people like the worse for then....

    FOR HONOR, FOR FREEDOM.... and for some money.
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  • KhayotixKhayotix Somewhere, FLPosts: 220Member Uncommon

    Admittedly, some of these people are quite vocal, but an individual who yells a lot and tries to make as much noise as five or 10 can is, in the end, still just one person.

    While I agree with that statement Whole Heartedly, We have seen many times in many games in the last 10 years Astounding amounts of instances where the loudest voice is heard, not the majority voice, and changes are made around said Loud Voice. So Sadly it doesn't actually work that way.

    To wrap up with a thought that may appear even farther out there, what if ESO were to come to market as both subscription and F2P? The two approaches are generally seen as mutually exclusive, but are they really?  Is it impossible to use either model, or does it just seem unlikely because it would require thinking outside both the retail box and the metaphorical one?

    Actually it could very well work, SOE Seems closest to that idea currenty. They still carry Subscriptions under the title Gold Membership, and The Free2play folks are Silver and Bronze Members. Alot of people even SOE call this model Free2play when really it is the hybrid called Freemium, and Freemium DOES work :)

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  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    Here is the deal....

    F2P model: You have 20 people who pay on average $1 per month (some will pay more, but balanced out with others who will pay nothing). However each user costs you $.50 per month to support. Your total proffit is (20 x 1) - (20 x .5) = $10 per month.

    Sub Model: You have only 1 person that is willing to pay the subscription price but that person pays $15 per month fixed.  Lets assume that you have to provide a higher level of service for that player, so lets QUADRUPLE your costs and say you pay $2 per month to support each user. So your total proffit is (1 x 15) - ( 1 x 2) = $13 per month.

    You tell me which one makes for the more PROFFITABLE business model? That's why F2P is NOT ALWAYS the obvious/better business model choice.

    F2P is a very SEDUCTIVE model to those without much financial background, because the HUGE numbers of users sound like they give you alot of revenue potential....but that's just it, it's only POTENTIAL. In a F2P model each user is actualy a COST center, not a revenue center.... they only convert to revenue when you can get them to do a significant enough number of PURCHASES (or find other ways to monetize then...i.e. advertisement). Thats why services with small user bases can often be MUCH more proffitable then large Free service offerings. It's also why plenty of would-be entreprenuers offering FREE services have founfd themselves bankrupt even though they had pretty significant user bases.

    That's not to say the "Free" service model can't be proffitable. There are certainly plenty of examples where businesses have made alot of money going that route....but it's not clearly and obviously a more proffitable revenue model.... it just has the POTENTIAL to be, if you can't convert enough of your users to revenue, all that large user base does is provide a huge sucking cost that you have to pay each month.



     

  • LavecLavec NewcastlePosts: 41Member

    Originally posted by GrumpyMel2

    Here is the deal....





    F2P model: You have 20 people who pay on average $1 per month (some will pay more, but balanced out with others who will pay nothing). However each user costs you $.50 per month to support. Your total proffit is (20 x 1) - (20 x .5) = $10 per month.

     

    Sub Model: You have only 1 person that is willing to pay the subscription price but that person pays $15 per month fixed.  Lets assume that you have to provide a higher level of service for that player, so lets QUADRUPLE your costs and say you pay $2 per month to support each user. So your total proffit is (1 x 15) - ( 1 x 2) = $13 per month.

    You tell me which one makes for the more PROFFITABLE business model? That's why F2P is NOT ALWAYS the obvious/better business model choice.

    F2P is a very SEDUCTIVE model to those without much financial background, because the HUGE numbers of users sound like they give you alot of revenue potential....but that's just it, it's only POTENTIAL.

    You sound like you just pulled those numbers out of thin air. One could just as easily pull different numbers out of thin air and reverse your argument.

    Clearly F2P is about getting the balance right to make it profitable, not to mention the huge sale potential from a B2P model from the start. SUB model puts off a lot of buyers from the start and then the game dies and gets a bad rep making the only choice to go F2P with no purchase and it's a slow battle up hill. No SUB means massive sales from the start - GW2 is going to be a good case study here - and I think that is the future.

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon

    You present a logical argument, but speculate on the cost of support.  Until we can quantify how much F2P is versus B2P or P2P it would be hard to judge which is the best option, let alone which is the best for a particular scenario.

    Outside of knowing, I tend to lean toward the B2P model.  I dont mind dropping 60 dollars to purchase a game as long as I can play it online for free.  I would casually support the CS especially if I was enjoying the game.  With the CS its always about balance, and would be required in this case if they plan to support PVP.

    I dont feel the games out today maintain enough of my interest to support a continual monthly fee.  I would actually prefer paying for time played.  If I dont play for a few days or particular month I dont get charged.  This way my cost would be inline with my playstyle.

     

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  • monarc333monarc333 New York, NYPosts: 615Member Uncommon

    Too early to truly answer this question. With the tradionationl theme park direction this game is going Zenimax should really consider the FTP model. I have a sinking feeling this game will bomb before its even released. The mmo market is changing and these developers have to change wiht it.

  • Sora2810Sora2810 New Columbia, PAPosts: 567Member

    After hearing all the features; I do not want to pay monthly. B2P or F2P will be great. 

    Played - M59, EQOA, EQ, EQ2, PS, SWG[Favorite], DAoC, UO, RS, MXO, CoH/CoV, TR, FFXI, FoM, WoW, Eve, Rift, SWTOR, TSW.
    Playing - PS2, AoW, GW2

  • GnomigGnomig berlinPosts: 48Member

    For heavens sake no f2p for THAT game... the elder scrolls games have all lived by their flair and the (in my opinion) unreached immersion factor - having "You cannot enter this cave. Get the 'All caves in Morrowind(tm) bundle TODAY!" popping up at every corner (or ANY corner, at that) would really kill the game for me.

    Nah. Monthly fee is cool for me.

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    Originally posted by Lavec



    Originally posted by GrumpyMel2



    Here is the deal....













    F2P model: You have 20 people who pay on average $1 per month (some will pay more, but balanced out with others who will pay nothing). However each user costs you $.50 per month to support. Your total proffit is (20 x 1) - (20 x .5) = $10 per month.



     

    Sub Model: You have only 1 person that is willing to pay the subscription price but that person pays $15 per month fixed.  Lets assume that you have to provide a higher level of service for that player, so lets QUADRUPLE your costs and say you pay $2 per month to support each user. So your total proffit is (1 x 15) - ( 1 x 2) = $13 per month.

    You tell me which one makes for the more PROFFITABLE business model? That's why F2P is NOT ALWAYS the obvious/better business model choice.

    F2P is a very SEDUCTIVE model to those without much financial background, because the HUGE numbers of users sound like they give you alot of revenue potential....but that's just it, it's only POTENTIAL.

    You sound like you just pulled those numbers out of thin air. One could just as easily pull different numbers out of thin air and reverse your argument.

    Clearly F2P is about getting the balance right to make it profitable, not to mention the huge sale potential from a B2P model from the start. SUB model puts off a lot of buyers from the start and then the game dies and gets a bad rep making the only choice to go F2P with no purchase and it's a slow battle up hill. No SUB means massive sales from the start - GW2 is going to be a good case study here - and I think that is the future.




     

    Of course I pulled the numbers from "thin air". It's the only thing one can possibly do when speculating in the generic or about service offerings of which one is not privy to the actual details involved in building, running and selling the service. It's functionaly no different then what Mr. Aihoshi is engaging in here though, since he has stated he has not been privy to any of the details of the TESO offering.

    However as a person employed in technical management for an SaaS vendor (business services vertical not entertainment), I can tell you from experience that the principles are sound. In the "Free Services" model, each user of your services is a COST to you, not a source of revenue. They only become a revenue source when you CONVERT them to a sale (or find other ways to monetize them). They only become proffitable to you when you can sell them enough to more then offset the costs of supporting them.

    The only thing having a huge user base does for you in the "Free Services" model is make you run out of money quicker, UNLESS you can find a way to sufficiently convert enough of those users to sales. Alot of businesses have found that out the hard way.

    That's why I'm trying to make the point that there is no one clearly "BEST" revenue model for any given service offering when speaking in the generic sense. It's only when diving into the specifics that  you can start to see how things might make sense.

    Sub-Model is a pretty solid revenue model since it gives you secure RECURRING revenue and you can control pricing so that you know you'll be exceeding your operating costs on each user under that model. Thus you pretty much know your going to be making an operating proffit, it's just whether your making enough of a proffit to recoup your initial development  costs in a timely fashion. There is a reason why Microsoft, Oracle and alot of the other software companies have been driving away from traditional boxed sales and towards LICENSING software and software services (SaaS )....that's essentialy the SUB based model and it can be EXTREMELY proffitable over the long run if you can produce a quality service and operate it efficiently. It can even be more proffitable then "Free Service" equivalents with much larger user bases.

    Thing is, each revenue model has it's strong and weak points, and each one can be made to work under the right conditions. But just because alot of people have been falling all over themselves hyping the F2P model, doesn't neccesarly mean it's going to be the best or even a workable model in any given circumstance.

    Note, one thing I've observed some Sub-Based models do to overcome some of the initial hesitation of purchasing is to GIVE away thier clients for FREE and then just charge the user as they are using the service. Thus there is no real financial commitment involved....you pay your $10-$15 for a month and see how you like it. The average person isn't going to be too put off by an initial outlay that is no more then what it would cost them to order lunch at McDonalds, if they think the product might have some interest for them. Frankly at that stage, unless you are a kid, most peoples TIME investment in installing and checking out the product is more of a factor then that sort of small financial outlay.

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member

    That's not most important thing.

     

    Though I am personally of opinion that themepark games naturally garvitate to B2P model (not those crap freemium "optional" subs though)

    and sandboxes naturally gravitate to pure P2P (no cash shop).

     

    Just my opinion though.

  • Ridan477Ridan477 Fullerton, CAPosts: 48Member Uncommon

    I think they should go the GW2 route with B2P and optional transactions. What i dont want is something like lotro where you have to pay for individual quests. I would much rather pay for the goodies that come with an idividual patch as a whole than try and figure out which specific quest chain i want. It might seem like i am advocating p2p but im not. What i am hoping gw2 does is offer new content as optional purchases so if i dont want to buy a new dungeon or pvp zone then i dont have too. In all honesty i dont really see anybody besides GW2 wanting to start as b2p or f2p every mmo wants to be like WoW making the millions they are off of subs.

    Scoobin it up on the daily.

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