Interesting little twist on Bethesda’s upcoming “Elder Scrolls Online.” Zenimax Online Studios has made the controversial decision to charge a subscription fee for the upcoming MMO, which some, such as our own Paul Tassi, think could be a fatal mistake. But at least PS4 users will be spared any additional fees — they won’t need PS+ to play the game. Xbox One owners aren’t so lucky, Bethesda confirmed to Forbes — a gold subscription will still be required.
Zenimax Online Studios writes at the Playstation Blog:
“A PlayStation Plus membership is not required to play The Elder Scrolls Online. PS4 players will only be required to pay the same monthly subscription associated with The Elder Scrolls Online that PC and Mac users will pay—nothing more.”
On PS4, ESO will join games like DC Universe Online and Warframe as an online gaming experience you can enjoy without the added subscription fee of Playstation Plus. This is especially crucial for Free-to-play games, which thrive by casting as wide a net as absolutely possible. Besides, it’s not really free-to-play if there’s a subscription fee in there, is it?
Microsoft has had a trickier time. It only recently allowed all users access to the free-to-play Happy Wars, but the CEO of Wargaming has expressed anger over the fact that World of Tanks will only be available with gold. The Xbox has always hidden more features — like most video apps — behind the Gold paywall.
The Gold restrictions were fairly a fairly straightforward idea in the early days of the Xbox 360, but it’s getting more and more complicated as consoles increase their online presence. It makes sense to charge for the massive amount of work it requires to maintain servers for large scale, $60 games like Call of Duty or Titanfall, but there’s something wrongheaded about restricting who can play a free game.
The Elder Scrolls Online launches in June, and the studio plans on starting a PS4 beta soon. The game recently received an “M” rating from the ESRB, which Bethesda has no plans to challenge. Several studios are pushing for MMOs this console generation, and this will be our first test of how that works.