Elder Scrolls Online price, biggest issue for players?

By Matt Tran - Jan 25, 2014

We spoke last week about players mixed reactions so far to the Elder Scrolls Online beta, with opinions being divided on many factors. One of the most negative comments from a lot of gamers was the cost of the subscription, will the Elder Scrolls Online price be the biggest issue for players wanting to join in on launch?

As it stands the monthly subscription cost of the Elder Scrolls Online has been set at $14.99, an extremely premium price for an online game. Many people have condemned this charge and questioned whether the game would be providing value for money. It is possible that no matter how great the game is, players will not be prepared to stump up that amount of cash each month.

There has been plenty of praise and positive feedback for the ESO too, which shows that there is a very large fan base willing to take part. The question is whether Bethesda will budge on the price and offer a cheaper subscription, with potentially less benefits, or they offer a cut down free to play version to give non beta players a taste of what they would be paying for.

Whilst there will be a large amount of people happy to pay the $14.99 a month subscription, giving those who can’t afford it no option but to either pay or don’t play feels quite ruthless. There are many other similar free or cheaper online options out there, so the ESO may want to be careful they do not lose a big following before they have even launched.


For any gamers planning on buying the Elder Scrolls Online for PS4 or Xbox One in June, this $14.99 subscription is NOT included in your PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live package and will have to be paid separately each month. Given that paying for 3 months of the ESO subscription equates roughly to a years worth of Xbox Live membership; you can see whether the argument is coming from.

It seems unlikely with the April 4th release not so far away that the price plan is going to change; it may only be after a few weeks of launch that Bethesda sees a poor subscription take up and is forced to offer cheaper fees or an alternative to players. Some might simply point out that if you can’t afford it then don’t play, would that be a fair assessment?

If you are planning to boycott the Elder Scrolls Online over its price or for any other reason, then let us know if you have an alternative option. Is the price the biggest issue for you?

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Also See: ESO server maintenance with no ETA on March 16

  • Anti Slaver

    You mean like world of warcraft? One of the most popular game in the world

  • Jeff

    If i buy a game, your making money. I’m sure there is going to be expansions, so more money. We shouldn’t have to pay a game company for a game disc and then pay them every month for the right to play said disc.


    Screw subscriptions and screw f2p. Diablo has been quite successful with the buy and play format. It is the ONLY way to go.I am boycotting ESO after having bought all the other games. And Eso has already blown the matter. By launching with the subscription model they have alienated millions of players like me that will not return. Greed is NOT a virtue.

  • Damien

    They need to pick a lane. Either it’s $60 to play @ $0 per month giving you unlimited re-playability of the content you payed up front for with occasional expansion packs released at whatever price point they merit again with unlimited replay at no extra charge. Or, it needs to be a flat $15 per month fee with no initial pay up front fees for unlimited monthly play. But the best option…..

    …the most successful option, business wise, would be free to play/start and then if you like the game, there would be a myriad of purchase-able missions/content that you could buy at varying price points. So free to play, with some $1 and $2 and $5 missions etc. at varying lengths (that could be replayed as different hero types, thief, archer, mage, etc.), as well as $15 and $30 and $60+ bundles that offer tons of content, etc.. This would get everyone interested in the game checking it out and getting into it, and anyone willing to pay for additional content from there, to keep their character and story going further can do so at various price points that they can afford or at prices they are willing to pay.

    I think this model takes a lot more confidence in your product to pull off, because your basically saying, look we are putting it out there, your going to experience it, but we guarantee your going to love it and want more. I don’t see it with this model.

    Pay for the game up front, maybe even buying premium bundles for extra initial content/items and then also pay $15 a month and likely be asked later for more in game purchase-able bonuses and content on top of your monthly fees…. Compare this to very rich free to play games out there that allow you to get up and running for free, and buy stuff if you love the game and play it all the time to support it’s development… Basically I’ve got plenty of other great games to play, and I’m saving up for a new phone among other things, so this can’t be on my list, even though I’m a huge Elder Scrolls fan who’s been playing since Part III: Morrowind I’m going to have to completely pass on this one unless something changes radically in their distribution style. So best of luck, but no thanks, I don’t even want to see the advertisements at this point, thanks.

  • Ben Shalashaska Cross

    I don’t want to boycott it, as i love The Elder Scrolls and want to play it on my ps4, but i am on the national min wage, for the UK and i cannot afford to pay for ps plus and TES Online, Zenimax, must realise this, why not do micro transactions and stuff, because most most console players simply connot afford that

  • DSpite

    I used to spend $4-$6 on coffee a day in one place I worked … I cut down a bit when I realized that I was spending more on that then my monthly net sub 🙂

    I do agree that $15 a month seems a bit off, coupled with an initial cash purchase, but it is REALLY dependent on what content they will offer.

    I think we all agree that if new decent content was constantly being injected, many of us (big fans of ES games) would def play this, and I think that our unwillingness to pay $15 a month atm is because we do not think that’s currently likely to happen, based on current information we have.

  • Reality check

    If you have issues paying for this game, you need to focus more on making money and less on playing games

  • Common sense

    Console players will be paying $59.99 + tax JUST for the game disk. 4 months of ESO at $15 a month is $60. Therefore, console players should get 4 MONTHS of full access when they buy the game, not 1 month. What a joke of a rip-off. I don’t know what the price for pc players will be for the game, but whatever it is for them to just buy the game, then they should have the same rate. ie. $30 for game – 2 months of access free, $45 – 3 months, etc…

    • Kunami

      Console will have the same model as PC.

      Mmorpgs cost lots of money to develop and may not make their money back with initial sales. One month worth of game play for most people is enough to finish numerous games. Not to mention you can unsubscribe afterwards and come back after to enjoy a slew of new content that will put any offline dlc to shame.

      Mmorpgs typically lose over half their player base in the first month. If they were FTP they wouldn’t make close to enough to pay for development of the game. The majority of casual gamers unsubscribe in order to enjoy other games, while more hardcore gamers have no qualms paying a subscription fee to keep the development rolling.

      In NO WAY do you get ripped off when purchasing a MMO. The entire time you are unsubscribed the game is growing and you are not paying any of the operating costs to keep the game running.

  • Nick Barone

    I will not be buying this game if I need to pay a 15$ fee every month. Considering I don’t even know how the game plays or anything. I think they should, with purchase of a new copy of the game, give maybe 3 free months. Or at least one free month of the game. That seems reasonable.

    • KajeLyte

      The developers are planning on, with the release of the game, to give players one month free of play. They also say they are planning on lowering the subscription fee for players that consecutively pay each month. I honestly would be content with paying the subscription fee if the game itself was free to download. Instead, they plan to make players pay for the game disc and pay for subscription with an Xbox Live or Playstation Plus fee on top of that for those gamers planning on playing ESO on the new generation consoles.

  • Sam

    Guild Wars 2 doesnt have a subscription, just buy it once and then you’re done. Why is that so hard for Elder Scrolls Online to do?

    • Archie ‘Danger’ Thomas

      Because it doesn’t suck.

      • Notta Noob

        Agreed, Guild Wars 2 doesn’t suck

  • E Jeffrey

    I would have been picking this up as a console release, and while I understand the need for subscription fees for RPG’s having to pay a secondary fee on top of the one needed for PS+ makes it an invalid option for me. As someone already highlighted, 220 a year including PS+ membership isn’t a price I’m willing to pay.

  • Kristoff

    I’m not a big Elder Scrolls fan, I enjoyed Skyrim and spent a good few hours on it, thought it was a great shame there was no online option. Now they’re bringing out a version that can be played online, but it will cost $15 a month to play? Sorry, but as a casual gamer, I pay my xbox live fee, I buy my games.

    I thought it was a rip off when you bought a second hand EA game and had to then buy a new EA season pass because the previous owner had used it.

    I liken this to Pearl Jam’s recent tour announcement. In the UK they’re performing only 2 dates, and are charging nearly £80 a ticket (put in to context I went to see Black Sabbath before Christmas for £40), why? Because they know they can get that much as they’re only performing 2 dates. I know Elder Scrolls has a massive following of hardcore fans, and I can only assume the developers know they will get enough people paying for the service to make it worthwhile. Well I wasn’t a hardcore enough fan to pay a ridiculous amount to go and see Pearl Jam and I’m not a hard core enough fan to pay to play this.

    If this catches on and we have to pay for the privilege of playing GTA Online, Forza online, FIFA/Madden/NFL online, COD online, etc as individual subscriptions, then casual gaming will die out. Hardcore gamers will no doubt pay their subscriptions for each game, but it sets a very bad standard IMO.

  • Mark Jinks

    not many games I was looking forward too like this one was so excited, NEVER in a million years am I paying 15 a month to play aswell as 40 a year for playstation plus, no way, they’ve ruined elder scrolls for me, ive bought every other elder scrolls there is, this is where my journey ends. 180 a year to play it? the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard for a game cant believe they thought it was a good idea. 220 a year including playstation plus just to play one game, god it makes me laugh

  • Funsley

    ESO was going to be the first GREAT console MMO…. but the price has effectively killed that prospect for me. Way to screw up a great idea.

  • Moodini

    I’m a dad with two kids who are great fans of Skyrim on xbox 360 and all played for hours. We have two xbox ones in our house (soon to be three). However there is no way that I will be paying out for three subscriptions each month on multiple xbox ones to play ANY game, however much we enjoy it.

  • Dawn Brogan

    That amount of sub fee would be in line with the WoW model. I have played quite a few MMO’s that were meant to challenge WoW’s fan base and they have all become FTP, like Rift, SW:TOR and The Secret World.

    I think asking for that amount of money, for what will be a semi bug ridden game is just too much. I won’t be rushing into that kind of financial commitment any time soon. I think GW2’s idea of pay once, play forever is good. Also, Elder Scrolls vs Skyrim is way more playable than just another MMO which has pretty scenery but is unsatisfying in some of the basic functions of an MMO.

    If I was going to sub again, I would go back to WoW. In fact, one of the reasons I haven’t returned to WoW is the sub fee being too high!

  • men

    that is absurdly expensive

  • narsilienn

    It sounds like there will be a 30 day “test” period when you first purchase the game that is free of a $15 charge, and then for further months you will have to purchase the subscription. Here’s what ESO’s FAQ page says: Players must purchase The Elder Scrolls Online in order to play it. They will have unlimited access for the first 30 days following activation and can continue beyond that with a subscription of $14.99/month Basically saying that there is pretty much a free test period, though you still have to purchase the game at full price first…did I interpret that right?

  • Revan

    I could understand charging for it because of the live support etc. I would even be willing to pay a monthly fee, but not $15 a month. I could see a model of $30 for 6mo and $50 for a year, but that’s about the limit. I hate the games that are free to play, but give you the option to buy additional stuff. those games are usually INCREDIBLY unbalanced. If you have $Money to spend, you can get better stuff, whether it be characters, armor, skills, or even gaining experience faster. I would much rather prefer the free to play with the model of either a Skyrim outlook where you can download additional “map packs” or something like a “season pass”.

    • Andrew Brinkman

      It’s a pretty standard price for an mmo. I think it’s more of the fact that non mmo players are used to paying a one time price.

  • KajeLyte

    I don’t like how you will have to pay for the game… to pay for the game. An up front cost then they slap you in the face with a subscription fee? And they say they are working on getting Xbox Live to not charge the Xbox Live fee along with the ESO fee but do they not realize that people who are planning on playing ESO on Xbox One will more than likely have other games they will want to play using Xbox Live as well? So what is the point of excusing ESO players of an Xbox Live subscription if they will be playing other Xbox One games as well? It seems this will only work if ESO is the only game a player is planning to play using Xbox Live.

    • Andrew Brinkman

      It doesn’t have anything to do with the Xbox live service, but it has everything to do with the cost of running servers that supports thousands of people on the developer/publisher side.

      • KajeLyte

        Yes, that is the reason why there is an Xbox Live fee but it still does not change the fact that there will be three payment requirements for Xbox One players who want to play ESO. Is there some point I missed in your statement?

  • smashingveto

    To say if you dont want to pay dont play is wrong. I feel that if I am paying for the game plus paying for xbox live I am already out money there. To charge people for a disc to play the game and then charge them a fee to play it is just BAD business.

  • Rizza razor

    Any FTP game or p2p as you decide totally unbalances a game to the point of no fun. I waste 15 on coffee everyday and that’s before lunch. 15 dollars for quality is absolutely nothing when nothing of quality has released since eq1. Don’t want to pay? Then don’t play but to cater to people who want something for nothing is just bad business and bad gaming for the rest of us

  • g

    The overwhelming subscription fee is by far the biggest issue for me and many of my friends. As a student, my money is limited greatly and I do not think that I am the only student to suffer from this issue. If they were to relieve the burden of such an arduous fee, they will have a significantly larger following (particularly for PS4 and Xbox One players who will hopefully have the fee removed altogether).

  • Lizbet

    Why not just offer a reasonable amount for an entire year subscription instead of fifteen a month? It seems more reasonable and you’re still getting your money. Just have us pay yearly. Reasonably. You have a large enough fan base, so I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

  • joe

    Any f2p is TRASH. I will NOT play ESO if it’s f2p. You are paying for quality updates and live support.

    • Kris Henry

      guildwars 2 has quality support and updates and is an amazing game with a ‘cosmetic’ cash shop so nothing to change the game.

      buy it once and its free..

      there just being money greedy

  • Alfred Anderson

    Yes, watching the game development, but I’ll wait for a lower price.

    I dropped WOW because of the ongoing subscription.
    I dropped SWTOR because of the ongoing subscription.
    Now I only play Free-to-play games. I do spend some money, but like having the choice. And I can play different games, instead of all just one to get my money’s worth.

    I plan to play SWTOR more in the next 6 months because it is now free-to-play.
    I won’t be playing ESO until it costs less.
    My favorite game right now is “World of Tanks” and I do spend money playing it.
    But I don’t have to, and I think it is an excellent financial model for the players and the company.

  • C.Martin

    and FYI you dont need to pay the playstation plus fee if you dont want to, its only on xbox that you will need both to play the game., so on ps4 if you just want to play F2P games like (DC univers or PS2 or ESO) you dont need playstation plus.

    and i tried alot of f2p mmo, and i get bored because they dont offer much for free players, it will be my first time paying sub fee for a game and i will gladly

    • C.Martin

      not only that but if you play a f2p game and invest money in it you will most likely pay more a month than the 15$, plus all the content that will come out of eso every 4-6 weeks, its no different than paying a DLC for any other game

      • mitchhauter

        ps4 does require playstation plus for online play.

        • C.Martin

          not for the F2P MMOs and for ESO

        • Chucc

          Theyre trying to to get sony to waive the psn fee but their not budging either so basically if youre playing on console youre paying extra. Which means i wont be playing which sucks cus i enjoy the beta

        • mitchhauter

          If this was 6 to 10 bucks a month I’d defiantly pay. Would you chucc?

        • Kris Henry

          i dont understand how they can justify themselves to push away console players .

          PSN sub and game cost and monthly sub.

          yet PC has game cost and monthly sub.

          surely there gonna have to change something for console players – as paying extra (console players) is not making your customers equal is any way at all.

        • mitchhauter

          Its not that they are trying to push away gamers. And please no one jump at my throat. But possibly they are going out of buisness and they are doing this to create another source of income. Maybe even they dove too deep into this and upcoming games that they need the money to continue production. That’s my theory any way.

  • Apoll

    So the sub isn’t an issue on WoW or EvE Online (or Darkfall, UO, DAOC) that are pretty “old” games, but is for TESO which is a new game? Isn’t that bit double standards?

    We do not want another Pay2Win (err) F2P game. Dozens are there, go and play them.

    Argh forgot. They are all shite.

    As Shadowbane became, when switched to F2P also. Until then was amazing game.

    TESO is the first game that seems good since 2001 when DAOC came out, and until that one got ruined with the Catacombs expansion. If you cannot afford TESO, nobody forces you to play it afterall.

    And yes, I do not want F2P bot farmers cloging the mining nodes making real money for nothing. Because TESO has no instances, so they are going to become an issue.

    I do not say that “bot farmers” will not exist now, they the ban hammer will be costly to them requiring to buy the game again to make an account.

    • Kris Henry

      the point is not it being free to play its the fact they are wanting the same price as it costs for a WoW Sub … i remember when wow first started it was almost half the price it is now…. (they no people will pay since its been going since 2005)

      ESO is a ‘new’ game … and there already putting a price tag of what wow is rather than starting low and seeing what player base will actually stay.

      thats the difference.

      • ferak

        SWG was $15 a month and that was before wow even came out. This model is and always has been the norm for MMOs. I’m certainly glad I won’t be playing with all these people complaining. If you cant go mow your neighbors lawn or take out the trash for $15 a month then you should focus on other things besides an MMO.

        • Kris Henry

          Dont assume i cannot afford the game and the monthly sub because i can … i work and i have a son , i cannot justify myself to pay for the game and psn and a sub to play what .. a couple hours a night.

          There will be alot of people in the same situation if not thousands , hence there gonna lose players

  • Robert Smith

    I could handle $15/£9 a month, tho’ I wouldn’t be happy about it, I’m a firm believer that once you’ve bought a game you shouldn’t have to keep paying to play it. That said, I would pay that now, but if a cheaper option, or even free option, came along, I’d happily downgrade, even if it meant losing “benefits”… After all, I’m interested in playing the game, not socialising, I’d be perfectly happy playing it offline were it an option.

  • Weaselsnuff

    I think the $15/mo fee is a GREAT idea. The last thing we would need is a huge collection of free-to-play WoW 10-14 year old kids ruining the game. Can’t afford it? don’t play it. And don’t ask mommy to foot the bill for you, either.

    • WoW kiddie

      This WoW thing is actually subscription-based too, just fyi.

      • g

        unfortunately, not all who can not afford it are simply 14 year old kids…

        • Kris Henry

          Amen to that … point is they have not shown me ANYTHING that is worth me paying £9 a month for … when WoW first started it was almost half that price and is now the same price ..

          Didnt mind paying £9 for WoW at the time since it showed me stuff worth paying for since 2005. (stopped now)

          ESO is str8 into the deepend and charging what wow charges ‘now’ … very unreasonable .

          Until they show me something ‘epic or insanely good’ about the game .. no money will be taken outta my wallet.

          Give us a bare basic model of the game for 2 days free .. let us try it then we’ll c about paying for the game and sub.

        • Brad Weis

          uh, WoW Started out at 14.99/month >.>

          You get discounts for paying more upfront (i.e pay 13.99/month for 3 months, $42 every 3 months)

          If they can’t get Microsoft or sony to budge on PSN/Live subscriptions, then that might be cause for them to drop subscription prices, but I think a scaling subscription is fine, especially if you get free updates that include content which as DLC may cost almost as much as half a new game.

        • Kris Henry

          If free updates with content id probably pay it …. my main problem is i have never played the game probably wont get to enter the ps4 beta altho i have signed up for it …. if as you stated in a post i read they gave free till a certain level least that gets me to try before i buy .

          Chances are you wont be able to trade this game in i have visions of it having some kind of key.

          so if i buy it im stuck with it if i dont like it, not worth it unless theres a trial

    • michael andrews

      This comment sums up nicely why I hate MMO’s and the people who pay monthly fees to play them.

  • MDS

    $15: the issue that’s not an issue… Except for those sites looking to create controversy to get more hits.

  • Alex

    it has happened before with most mmo’s putting out a game with a subscription fee, but sooner or later they will give an option to play for free. Until then i and many other people will just hold off on buying the game. i think that it is a mistake to make fee and that it hurts their fan base a lot, before they announced it i was all for buying the game and playing the elder scrolls (witch has always been a single player) with my friends. but i just dont feel like wasting money on a game, i have more important things to save up for besides playing a mmo

  • Dexter Rivens

    Funny people pay $249 or $99 for a game + collectors editions for 3 or four titles a year. Why is $15 an issue?

    • mitchhauter

      because after just one year ESO will cost 180.00 approximately. but that’s using it every day like tv. no one can play it every single day. not many realize its a rip off, because they compare it to things they use to its cost.

      • Dexter Rivens

        What…$180 over a 12 month period is a rip off???

        Are you new to entertainment? People spend $180 on a good Saturday night out. Upgrade your life, make some money and enjoy decent entertainment.

        A regular season football game ticket in a regular section. Not the nosebleeds run $100-$200 per ticket excluding food and parking for 2-3 hours.

        • mitchhauter

          I do enjoy entertainment. But in the console game world that you already have to pay to play. Its sorta like paying for two seats for one person. I’m not saying its an enormous rip off, but like I stated. Depending on the person. Its a slight rip off. I know with my life making that 15 dollar purchase per month won’t be used to its worth. That’s all.

        • Dexter Rivens

          That’s a different take. Agreeing to disagree.

          Entertainment to me = games, movies, food, drinks, concerts, fights.

        • John Bowman

          I’m amused by the concept of a “slight rip-off”. It really comes down to how you value things. In the end the argument is highly subjective. The subscriber model is now seen as risky though in the past was seen as expected.

          What’s interesting is what will the negative reaction to subscriber models signify – is it risky to put serious money into MMO game development or even any AAA video game? If it costs “$” 50+ million to make a AAA game and the consumer base aren’t largely willing to buy it at full price won’t that mean the development of high end games will be oriented to reduce risk (few new IPs, casual, easy) and/or become rarer? The investment in games seems to involve some risk these days, it will be interesting to see what happens.

        • Kris Henry

          My argument would simply be … i would like to pay for this game BUT … i cant justify myself to pay a sub when i have a job … a child … and only get to play ‘games’ on a night time.

          So im supposed to pay for a game i only get to play a couple hours a night? if even every night ..

          I dont think so

        • John Bowman

          Hi Kris, I can perfectly understand. It’s the broader question – can you justify playing this game like paying for any luxury? I am assuming the game will go inevitably F2P and probably might have added content. Cheers

        • Brad Weis

          agreed. I’m saving to mortgage a house and try to save 5k per year, and even after that and all my other costs, I can still afford the price of the game, working a just above min wage job.

          Considering this game is designed as a game that you will end up playing >3 times/week, and if you spend roughly 4 hours per day, that’s still only 25c per hour to play a game. I can find that in the couch sofa on a bad day.

          And on top of all that, they are setting a standard with their new server software development that unifies a single server. My guess is that they will end up doing demos, or “f2p up to a certain level” like WoW did, to get people interested, then let the game speak for itself. And, you can always do like I do: stop playing after you get bored/max out a character, stop your subscription for 6 months, then pay 15 later and get a whole new gaming experience.

        • ferak

          When $15 a month is something that you don’t think you can afford or worry about getting its “worth” you shouldn’t be playing games. A part time job and mcdonalds covers a months sub in two hours. One sub is cheaper than 3 burritos from Chipotle. This generation is lazy and extremely entitled. Ridiculous.

  • Chris

    I predict that by the time the console versions are released there will be a $50/year sub fee which is no more than call of duty or battlefield charge for their 4 map packs a year. I’m extremely ecstatic about this game so weather they lower the price or not doesn’t matter to me and I think they do tht to make the game better for their core players. And I’m glad Bethesda and ZOS are focusing primarily on the hardcore TES fans

  • Gamer

    I think I’ll hold off because I already pay $15 for wow and I’m not too interested in shelling out the cost for the game and the subscription without even knowing if the game will be worth it. Maybe a free 6 month period (with purchase of the game) would be enough to determine if it’s worth subscribing.

    • Waggs

      Free 6-month period? That’s a long time. I think 1-month is enough to tell if you like a game.

  • patrick baker

    If you don’t want to pay don’t play. Easy as that

    • rodney

      it’s elder scrolls.of course it’s worth it.

      • rodney

        this was’nt meant to be pointed at patrick baker,just the people complaining about the monthly price,i’d be willing to bet the one’s who are already pay to play wow.

        • plmzaq

          people still play WoW?

        • Guest

          I know right? Only fail n00bs play WoW anymore. Everyone is waiting for the next great MMORPG.