Sorry for the bad graphics.  The game has great graphics if your computer can handle it.  This computer could not.

Elders Scroll Online

Recently the developers of Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) announced that you will no longer need a subscription to play the MMORPG.  The change takes effect on March 17th.  Gamers interested in playing this game can now play it without paying a monthly or yearly subscription.  To play the game you will still need to buy it but after that there are no more costs if you don't want to pay more.  If a player decides to pay more to get a "premium account", they will get many goodies like free downloadable content, game currency and experience points.  This is a real boost for players who want to get ahead in the game.  This decision by the developing company falls in line with many other games in the genre. 

I am playing the game and paying a subscription.  This was one of the reasons I chose this game.  I found out a long time ago that MMO's that are free tend to suffer in quality.  We will  see how it goes for ESO.  I am not particularly pleased with the decision and this article explains why I like subscription based MMO's vs. free to play.

 A little ESO primer

The Elder Scrolls Online, is based on Bethesda's very popular Elder Scrolls series.  That series includes well-known games like Oblivion and Skyrim.  These are single player open world RPG's.  As mentioned above ESO is a MMO and is very reminiscent of World of Warcraft.

The game does do a few things different from WoW.  Its fighting system is more complex, this makes combat a bit more exciting.  It uses heavy and light attacks, rolling, sniper shots, and special moves.   The game is fully voiced and the quests for the most part contain more depth and story than the regular find so many of these or kill so many bandits.  The real standout feature of Elder Scrolls Online is the crafting system.  It is unique, entertaining and challenging.  It also is not restricted by class or skills, any character can craft everything if they have the time.  The highly anticipated justice system came out not long ago.  It brings life to law and order.  Stealing is punishable if the guards catch you and the ability to kill NPC's is entertaining if you are into that stuff.  There are opportunities and quests based off this system allowing you to become a mighty thief or assassin.


Pros of Free to Play

Before I go on my tirade about the problems of  free to play systems lets talk about why they are popular.  The obvious reason for popularity is the free to play aspect.  A player buys the and never has to spend another penny and they can expect future updates and regular maintenance to keep the game fresh.  Another positive feature of this system is that by purchasing a "premium" account that player can move ahead faster and receive greater rewards than if the game was a subscription. 

These are the cons of free game systems.  The first is one of the positive features and that is the rewards and increased leveling.  For players paying the extra this is great but for the players that don't pay extra it becomes a serious disadvantage.  This problem is plain to see in player vs. player arenas where the players that don't pay extra are weaker than those that do.  A subscription based system provides a more equal playing field for all characters. 

I have also found that once a developer stops the subscriptions for a game they also tend to stop creativity and polishing.  Free to play games just don't get the attention that the subscription games get.  It eventually turns an MMO into another cookie cutter, money grabbing mess.  I am not sure why this happens.  They still get plenty of money from in-game purchases and premium accounts but in my experience games suffer when the subscriptions stop.

Don't Waste Your Money

I haven't played every MMO out there and my opinion may fall short due to my ignorance.  I am not offended if I am wrong but I have found that free to play games cost more than subscription if the player that wants the best content.  The free to play games all have in-game purchases or premium content.  When I play one of these games I end up spending more in a week then I would with 3 months of subscription.  I am not disciplined enough to resist getting ahead for a few dollars here or there than grinding out for days on end.  When I quickly spend money only to get a small virtual reward it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.  Don't waste your money.  I have read forums where players have spent $500 dollars on in-game purchases in less than a year.  It's not worth it.  At least with subscriptions you know how much you are going to spend and you also know that you're getting all the content.