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Elder Scrolls Online's core player base has been crippled from day one of the games annoucement. Here are my reasonings,
1. Hero Engine Debacle
When the game was first announced, one of the key features toted was the use of the same engine as Star Wars: The Old Republic, the very controversial "Hero Engine". As soon as the Game-Informer Article hit the internet forum posts blasting the use of the engine shot up right here on MMORPG.com; along with articles confirming this fan outry on Massivly and other major MMO publications.
Here is where I give the ESO Devs some credit, as they quickly dispelled the previously announced feature as nothing more than a simple "Whiteboard" which they used to make the "Real Engine". But suspicions had already begun in the community since the original announcement, even diehard Elder Scrolls fans reamined wary, with features like "Voice-Overs" and All-Age Appropriate Graphics still confirmed, things started to seem too similar to other projects from the Hero Engine.
2. Game-Informer speaks Candidly about lack of Core Elder Scrolls Series Features
Along with the Game-Informer article also came a further hit to not only Hardcore Elder Scrolls fans, but also to the general fans of megahit "Skyrim"; the ES series most accesible link to the gaming community. Features like Player-Housing, Were-wolves, First-Person combat, wernt making the transition to the Elder Scrolls MMO "Because of the constraints inherent to an online game" according to the games developers, but Zenimax Online assued the fans they would be "including everything that makes sense."
3. Three-Factions, Race-Locked, No Imperials
So it wasnt long after Zenimax Promised to "Include Everything that makes sense", that they gave us information on the games core mechanics, which included Three Factions at war against each other. DAOC fans quickly flocked to the games forums and other sites giving the game its most solid boost of concurrent fans since the previous announcments.
But even with the small impact the DAOC community gave to ESO, it was completely overshadowed by the complete abandonment of many Core Elder Scrolls fans, who saw the three race locked factions as a complete deviation from the games well standing lore, as well as a limit on player interaction between all races which had never been seen in a full fledged ES game before.
The lack of a core ES Race (Imperials) from the mix, placing them instead as a more antagonistic NPC roll, also came across as a strange decision as they had always been a default choice for many first time players of the game not familiar with the ES lore. (This is because of the overtly "European-American" look Imperials have)
In Conclusion - A Mature Audience detracted by an Adolescent game
So now what we are left with is a completely divided community, ESO's target audience has been consistently shown to be All-Age Appropriate, even though the core features of the Elder Scrolls Franchise have always been more adult-themed/ oriented. The advent of DAOC fans to the game is a fair audience but incomparable numbers wise to the outflux of core Elder Scrolls fans, and Adult Gamers who made up the games Core Audience.
Does anyone feel that ESO can recover from such poor early development/PR choices?