MMOs switch from subscription-based to free-to-play due to flaws in the games themselves rather than the subscription model, says Bethesda VP of marketing and PR Pete Hines.
Speaking with GamesOnNet, Hines said that in the majority of cases where the switch has been made, an imbalanced value proposition was the reason.
“It’s about ‘are you giving me my money’s worth for what you’re asking me to pay?’” he said.
“If yes, then they [players] don’t have a problem with it. If no, then they have a problem with it.”
So while Hines admitted that he was anxious to see how The Elder Scrolls Online would go with its subscription model, if it failed the model itself would not be to blame.
“What’s going to determine whether or not it succeeds or fails is not really tied to what anyone else has done, it’s tied to ‘do we make a strong enough argument for the value that you get for your fifteen dollars?’,” he said.
“If we’re providing the kind of content people want to see where they’re like ‘This is awesome, I’m having a blast, this new stuff is totally worth it and I’m having fun’, then the subscription totally works.
“If we’re putting out stuff that doesn’t make a case for it then we have a problem on our hands and we have failed to meet that value proposition.”
Hines didn’t see the upfront cost of The Elder Scrolls Online (NZ$90) as off-putting.
“You get the game, you get your first month without having to pay for a subscription to see ‘is this thing a thing I like’?" he said.
“If your approach that you want to take is that, for example, you love Skyrim, you played it for 125 hours, but after three or four weeks you were done, then you can do the exact same thing in Elder Scrolls Online.
“The initial purchase is exactly the same as any other PC game because you don’t have to pay for the subscription until your 30 days is up.”
He also felt it was far too early to offer incentives like a free trial to snare players, but that his team was prepared for most eventualities.
“In between there are literally a billion different possibilities to be managed and figured out. Right now our focus is on one thing, which is make the best game possible.
“I don’t see us learning something that’s like ‘we never saw THAT coming!,” Hines added. “We do so much testing.”
The Elder Scrolls Online launches for Windows PC and Mac on April 4.