ZeniMax Online Studios has discretely removed the option to sign up for six-month subscription plans to their MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online.
With the removal of the six-month plan, players can now only select from 30-day and 90-day subscription plans, leading many to wonder if a shift to a free-to-play system may be on the horizon. Speculation has been growing on the game’s forums since the change was made, especially after an administrator on the French forums stated the change was made because players “preferred” the shorter subscription plans. Generally speaking, the change or removal of subscription options is seldom a good thing, for example Warhammer Online removed its six-month subscription plan right before announcing that it was shutting down for good in 2013.
In no way do I see The Elder Scrolls Online having such a drastic twist of fate that it would shut down for good, but I do think this change gives credence to a shift to a free-to-play system. In a post on The Elder Scrolls Online official website, the team had previously detailed that the console version of the game was being delayed until 2015 and that the developers “want to make sure that two of our most important systems still in development—the Justice and Champion Systems—are included in the console release.” The Justice and Champion system are both scheduled to launch on the PC version of the game in January, making the console launch time frame plausible in the next six months. This could very well mean that The Elder Scrolls Online will debut as a free-to-play title on PS4 and Xbox One at the same time as the PC version is converted.
This is all speculation right now, but the signs do seem to be pointing to changes in the near future. It wouldn’t shock me at any rate, especially after Star Wars: The Old Republic made a successfully transition to a free-to-play system in 2012 after spending a year struggling under its initial subscription model. For now, all we can do is wait and continue to count the days until its fate seems inevitable.
The Elder Scrolls Online is currently available on PC for $59.99 with a required $15 per month subscription to play the game.