I haven’t been playing Elder Scrolls Online for very long, but I’ve been on the game long enough that I’ve already been able to form an opinion about the ESO+ stuff. I’m putting this into a separate post since this commentary is not directly related to any playthrough, and I have enough to say here that I feel like it deserves its own post.
Let me be abundantly clear: I’m sick to death of everybody on the planet making their users pony up for subscriptions. The banking software I’m using went to a subscription model for its latest version. Microsoft Office does it. Certain other pieces of software I have on my system do it, like software I’ve got for scanning my drive for duplicate files. Hell, several of the plugins I’m using in WordPress for this very site do it. So do apps on my phone and iPad.
Streaming services do it too, and of course there are eighty bajillion streaming services now, so you have to get a bunch of them if there’s content in multiple places you actually want to watch.
It’s not a question of whether I can afford it–I can, for which I am grateful. Rather, it’s a question of my being annoyed that the capitalistic society we live in is geared around so many providers of software going “let’s try to milk our users for as much money as possible.” Because that shit does add up. And people who are less able to afford this kind of thing than I am are screwed if they don’t have enough money in their budgets to account for buying additional shiny things in whatever software they’re trying to use, whether it’s a game, Microsoft Office, banking software, a streaming service, or what have you.
Also, while I can afford these things now, I grew up poor, and to this day that informs my choices about how I want to spend my money. I am extremely reluctant to pay for a subscription service unless it’s absolutely critical to something I need to do.
How this specifically relates to ESO for me as a player: it means I have a powerful and instinctive aversion to the idea that if I throw the game an additional fifteen bucks a month, then I get access to a whole bunch of shiny things. But if I stop paying, my access to those shiny things stops.
(Also, hi, i’m old, and I remember the days when buying a particular software release just meant you got that specific release. If you wanted an upgrade to it, you paid for the upgrade. I miss that business model. It was a lot more straightforward.)
Now, I’m coming into ESO after over a year and a half playing Skyrim. A game which, let me also be abundantly clear, I’ve loved passionately enough that I’ve paid for Skyrim content four times already–once for the base game on the Switch, once on Steam to get the PC build, once on Steam to get the Anniversary Edition upgrade, and once on the Switch to get the AE there too when it recently dropped.
Relatedly, while I was still playing Dungeon Boss, I threw a stupendously stupid amount of money at that game, too.
The difference in these situations vs. ESO+: it was entirely à la carte. One-time transactions that got me immediate benefits, which could not be then taken away later if I stopped providing money.
As I’ve said in previous posts, intellectually, I am aware that ESO is an MMO and as such, it has to make certain accommodations that a single-player, not-online game doesn’t have to care about. So I am willing to put up with limitations on my carry capacity for now.
In Skyrim, now that I’m able to play the AE on all my gaming-capable things, I can have a staggering number of houses to live in, all of which have their own storage space. And the game lets me carry as many things as I want, with the cost of having to be hampered in movement speed unless I get on a mount.
Morrowind is a lot less forgiving about this. I don’t have a house yet in my Morrowind playthrough, and also, that game does not let me carry an infinite number of things in my inventory. If I go over carry weight, I cannot move.
ESO so far feels more like Morrowind to me in this respect, even though its processing of carrying things seems to be more oriented around “how many carry slots you are allowed” rather than by “actual item weight”. And I actually don’t hate that. It means that right now, on ESO, I have to apply a strategy similar to what I do in Morrowind: i.e., I need to be prudent about which things I pick up. Do I really need another six hide scraps? Do I really need that steel helm dropped by that dire wolf I just killed? Do I have enough space in my inventory that I can get boss loot once I finish the dungeon I’m in?
And I feel like that actually improves my immersion. Because realistically speaking, my character shouldn’t be able to pick up an unlimited number of things while adventuring.
But that said: because Skyrim was the Elder Scrolls game I fell in love with first, that’s the one whose model I tend to prefer. I like being able to amass a dozen different kinds of armor and weapons, and show them off in my character’s living space. I like to be able to switch between different types of gear as whim dictates.
So I can tell right now, even after only a handful of days spent on ESO so far, that additional storage space is the thing most likely to make me want to give the game extra money. But I will strongly prefer doing that on an à la carte basis, i.e., buying a certain number of crowns and then spending those on the additional storage space.
Likewise, I feel like there’s a distinct possibility that once I feel like I’ve adequately explored what areas of the game I currently have access to, I might drop additional money on buying new content DLCs. And since I do enjoy playing the Thieves Guild in Skyrim, there’s a non-zero chance that I’ll want the DLC for that in this game too.
All the above said, I’m not going to completely discount the possibility of ever buying into ESO+. If I find that I want to play this game as long as I’ve played Skyrim, I may well tilt over to the side of “this game is giving me ongoing entertainment and it is worth it to me to pay some money to its ongoing ability to exist.” And right now, even after just the short time I’ve played it so far, I can tell that that possibility is on the board. See above commentary re: throwing money multiple times at both Skyrim and Dungeon Boss.
And let me also be clear on this: if you’re an ESO player and you do feel like ESO+ is worth it to you, great! I’m happy for you! Everybody should play a game the way they best see fit, including how much money they feel comfortable spending on it. All of this commentary in this post is one hundred percent just about me, not about anybody else’s choices in how they spend their money.
I am just not yet ready to commit to ESO+ yet personally. We will see what happens as I continue to play.