While it may not be exactly what gamers were hoping for when the thought of an Elder Scrolls MMO first entered their mind, our time with The Elder Scrolls Online has shown that ZeniMax Online Studios can deliver a competent massively multiplayer experience that incorporates all the key elements of Bethesda’s beloved franchise. But, that playtime has only been in a test-focused capacity, mostly as part of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s closed beta.
Very soon, however, The Elder Scrolls Online will launch in earnest – and with a subscription fee – giving players a full taste of what the MMO has to offer. And while April 4th is the official launch date for The Elder Scrolls Online, it turns out that gamers can get in on the action even sooner depending on which retailer they choose.
News of early Elder Scrolls Online start times comes courtesy of a Reddit AMA with select members of the ZeniMax team. The full thread revealed plenty of juicy tidbits about the game, and is therefore well worth a read, but the more relevant details are as follows.
Gamers who pre-order the Imperial Edition (digital or retail) or Standard Edition (digital) of The Elder Scrolls Online will get the biggest head start, with server access beginning at 7AM EST (12PM WEST in the UK) on March 30th. Those who pre-order the Standard Edition (digital) will still gain early access, but their server access will unlock on April 1st at 7AM EST. And finally, the game’s servers will unlock for everybody else on April 3rd at 7PM EST.
Like many of the MMOs before it, The Elder Scrolls Online has opted for the staggered launch, likely in an effort to gauge gamer interest and to reward early adopters. At this point, opportunities to play TESO have been plentiful enough that those who are going to pre-order have already done so, but still it’s important to highlight that pre-ordering from Bethesda grants the earliest access.
Beyond that, though, gauging gamer interest is important because The Elder Scrolls Online represents a major risk for ZeniMax and its success or failure could have larger implications on the MMO space. Obviously, if the MMO isn’t a success then it means several years’ worth of work wasted. But the bigger issue at play is whether a subscription-based MMO can still survive in the changing landscape.
Back when Star Wars: The Old Republic released many hypothesized that it would be the last of a dying breed of premium MMOs (note: The Old Republic is now doing alright for itself as a freemium experience), but TESO has come around some two years later to stake its claim as potentially the last. That is, if it isn’t successful.
Will you be playing The Elder Scrolls Online when it launches next week? How long do you see yourself subscribing to the MMO?
The Elder Scrolls Online (officially) releases for PC on April 4, 2014.