Bethesda’s Pete Hines Defends ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ Subscription Fees

Published 1 year ago by

TESO Treasure Chest

Subscription-based gaming: in many ways it already feels like an anachronism, an old-timey way of doing thing more suited to the feudal fantasies of the MMORPG genre than the modern, businesslike games industry. Sure, there’s still plenty of platform-specific fees to be paid, from PS Plus to Xbox Live, but these are the Netflix all-in-ones to World of Warcraft’s Blockbuster video.

Like shooters? Great – pay one fee. Play racers, brawlers, puzzlers, platformers, strategy or sports and you’re still covered by that same single cost. Choose an online RPG however, and you’re more than likely to encounter an additional, high-priced pay wall. It’s an inequality of genre that developers often chalk up to the sheer mammoth scale of online role-playing titles – one example of which is the upcoming sword and sorcery epic The Elder Scrolls Online.

Having announced back in August of last year that TESO would carry a monthly subscription fee, publisher Bethesda has been scrambling to justify its decision ever since. The latest, and perhaps most clear-cut explanation yet comes from Bethesda’s vice president of PR Pete Hines. In discussing the move with CVG earlier this week, Hines commented on the rationale behind the decision, as well as the wisdom of adopting a system that many analysts consider prone to failure.

“I don’t know whether or not previous games that have done subscriptions haven’t succeeded because they were subscription-based, or because of the game that they were and the value that the customer got, and that’s ultimately what we’re talking about. If you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth for whatever you’re paying – whether it be $15 for a month or $2 for a DLC – then you’re going to be happy. […]

“We felt like the subscription model fit best what we wanted to do, not because we want you to pay per month to play the game, but because we want to provide real and meaningful content support on a regular basis. That’s not just a few items or a thing here and there, that’s real significant stuff that adds to the game in a whole host of ways, and doing so needs a good sized group of people who are working on and creating new stuff.

You can’t set aside a bunch of people to work on a cool quest line unless you’ve figured out a way that you’re going to pay those bodies to spend that time. Otherwise you’d just put them onto something else. We feel like this approach is going to give people who want to play the best value, and reason to look forward to the next new thing that’s coming out. The Elder Scrolls is […] a big triple-A title that demands huge, ongoing triple-A support.”

The Elder Scrolls Online Logo

When asked for his thoughts on Microsoft requiring players to purchase an Xbox Live account prior to enjoying the game, Hines responded:

“…ultimately that is really only applicable to the subset of people who don’t already have a Gold subscription to play anything online, because that’s the point: if you want to play anything online on an Xbox One you have to have a Gold subscription. We simply fall into that category as well. It’s really only [a problem] to people who would only want to play TESO but no other multiplayer games. Having said that, it is what it is. I can’t change it or really have any say in it, so hopefully the folks that feel like TESO is a game they want to play are folks that are playing multiplayer stuff online anyway and it won’t be a big deal.”

While some fans are likely to be annoyed at Bethesda for the Xbox One’s double subbing it’s important to remember that Microsoft also hides many other features behind this ‘Gold’ pay wall. Indeed, for as long as The Elder Scrolls Online demands an individual fee, there’s very little that can be done about the situation. As Hines states, the issue only affects those gamers who want to play TESO but have no interest in picking up an additional Live subscription. If Bethesda were to somehow subsidize their rate in order to accommodate the cost of the Xbox service then the company would be seen to be prejudicing both PC and PlayStation owners instead.

As a side note, the VP also hinted at some of the title’s early cycle DLC, a Dark Brotherhood quest line strangely omitted from the game’s vanilla edition. It remains to be seen whether this content will be offered for free (read: at no additional cost to the monthly subscription).

Is it fair to require an Xbox Live account in order to play subscription-based MMOs? Is there really a market for fans wishing to play TESO, but without access to other online titles? Can players expect a smooth or shaky start to life in Tamriel come April 4? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest Elder Scrolls news, right here on Game Rant.


The Elder Scrolls Online arrives April 4, 2014 for PC and Mac platforms, with

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 ports set to debut in June.

Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.

Source: CVG

TAGS: Bethesda, Mac, PC, PS4, The Elder Scrolls, The Elder Scrolls Online, Xbox One, ZeniMax Online Studios

  • Kyle

    Been playing the beta for PC and I gotta say although I normally stay away from subscription-based games, TESO definitely feels worth it.

  • Richard

    I thought on the ps4 and xbox1 it was auspices to be up to the game developer/publisher if the game was going to require an online account like gold or plus. Or is that ps4 only, or was that just a rumor before the consoles came out. I haven’t upgraded to the ps4 or xbox1 yet.

    • dethfuse

      I’m pretty sure that was PS4 only. Well I’m positive the it’s like that on the PS4 but not sure about the Xbone.

    • Aewsome

      you need Plus and Gold to play online but with Plus it is said you get free access to ESO but not for how long, with Gold and PC you need to play

      I think they will lose 50% of the ESO user base after 6months.

  • hanzo

    Seriously cannot wait for this game. It is going to look insane on a ps4 compared to when I played it on 360.

  • jakeenburney

    Not really annoyed by his answer, at the end of the if it’s literally nothing they can do and it’s out of their hand..I see no point in getting angry, if people had suggestions on fixing the paywall on X1 then put them forth. I’m getting it on PC anyway, also yes ESO is pretty dang good by mmo standards.

  • Big Baby Jesus

    How much is this a month?

    • dethfuse

      $15 per month. Idk about other currencies.

  • dethfuse

    I completely understand why they have a sub I just wish I didn’t also have to buy into the game. World of Warcraft is proof that sub based games can work and thrive.

    Regardless though I’m buying the collector’s edition for PS4 and playing the shit out of it for a while. No clue whether I’ll keep playing it or not. I just want to see all the different areas within Tamriel.

  • Joel. monserrate

    $15 a month i might try it.

  • bio

    He does have a point. Have you guys played guild wars 2? While it’s not a bad game because there is no monthly fees alot of the cool stuff that isnt some back pack is sent to there cash shop to work on there future project, which by way was this idea that works better on paper then in game. Monthly fee or annoying cash shop. Take a pick.

  • djnforce9

    Not worth it to me. I don’t mind the subscription fee; I just didn’t get enough enjoyment to justify it. In my opinion, the game could have easily been another single player installment. Perhaps even an online one with new content could be slip-streamed in at any time and co-op play as well as PvP arenas; I’d pay for that for sure. I played the beta too and it seemed like Skyrim but with all these figments (i.e. other players) dancing around sapping up all the loot. It is also not conductive to group play as you or your friends will be waiting on eachother to finish lengthy dialogue sequences and cuteness.

  • austin

    no wow is not a show that sub fee is still ok. that game has so many people hooked from back when sub fee was the only way that people will never give up on it. a new game will never last with one because i hope gamers know that the fee does not pay the workers unless the company has no way to make money in game like a apparell store or xp boosts or whatever. guild wars 2 would like to talk to all the gamers who think sub fee is an ok idea or if you dont want to play it its the #1 selling mmo at its starting point and it is still one of the highest income games without a sub fee.

  • Starpryme

    The reason WoW works with a subscription based system is because you got your money’s worth for only $15 per month. My experience with F2P games is that: 1) the content doesn’t tend to be that great, 2) you’re at a disadvantage when not using the cash shop compared to other players who are, 3) less players as you level up because everyone either gets bored with it or doesn’t want to pay any money at all, and 4) you end up spending more than $15 a month. That’s just my experience though.

  • Vaedren

    okay, so first on the comments of GW2, that game is actually more costly then most subscription based games, the game itself is ran off a player-made economy where you can Buy and trade gold, Emphasis on the words “Buy gold”.
    Now as towards his comment, I completely agree with the use of subscriptions with this title, and from playing it, you can tell they did put a lot of work importing a single-player franchise into a multi-player platform. The fact that Microsoft requires a subscription to have online play is annoying, but It’s been that way for years now.

  • thedude

    He also BS’d everyone by saying that the PS3 and 360 versions of Skyrim were the same. We saw how that turned out. I mean the game was buggy as heck but the 360 version was far superior because of the worse bugs on the PS3.

    Sorry Pete but I refuse to trust anything you say after all that.

  • JT

    Well, looks like I won’t be playing ESO until it is F2P.

  • Gamer4life

    My only fear is that the game will contain innumerable glitches just like Skyrim on both PS 3 and 360 as well as the computer! Until I see the game run smoothly with very few glitches, I will not purchase the title nor pay to play.