Earlier this week Kotaku’s Superannuation took to Twitter with a message suggesting that The Elder Scrolls Online has a $200 million budget – will it ever be considered a success with such a high bar to meet? When a game is designed with such a huge budget to play with it becomes paramount to make the game a massive success. Even the biggest developers of today could ignore a few million invested into a poor title but $200 million is enough to make a serious dent in any developers pocket.
You may recognize that magic number from a previously released MMO game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Development spanning over 8 years including 800 developers on four continents, Star Wars: The Old Republic was one of the biggest undertakings in MMO history but that didn’t pan out too well. Despite having the support of one of the greatest science-fiction franchises in history, and highly experienced developers Bioware at the helm, Star Wars: The Old Republic could not survive as a pay-to-play MMORPG and was soon forced to adopt the free-to-play model. Although it still exists today, it’s considered a failure by many MMO fans as it failed to bring anything fresh to the genre and even struggled to stay true to The Old Republic games of yesteryear.
Taking these lessons into account for The Elder Scrolls Online, the forecast looks bleak. One cannot argue about the popularity of the single-player aspect of the franchise, it’s huge, but as we’ve seen many times before in the world of the MMO – that doesn’t guarantee success. If The Elder Scrolls Online budget of $200 million is true, Zenimax will need to beat every best-selling record on the table for the MMO market.
Although The Elder Scrolls Online lacks the backing of such a huge media franchise, it does have some extra strings to its bow that Star Wars: The Old Republic did not have. Most notably the multi-platform release. The Elder Scrolls Online will be launching on the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, providing a far bigger potential market than what was available to EA and ToR. However there’s also a negative aspect to this as ESO will feature a subscription model on top of the monthly costs for Xbox Live and PSN. Will console players be willing to spend $60 on a game and $160 a year to play it?
There are some success stories with big budget titles but these are few and far between. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V reportedly cost over $265 million to make but made over $1 billion in just 3 days and broke various records across the entertainment industry – although you would have to be slightly insane to compare its potential to ESO.
The Elder Scrolls Online Budget Rumors
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sold well over 20 million copies but how many of those players would be willing to pay a monthly subscription? EA reported that Star Wars: The Old Republic only needed to maintain 500,000 subscribers to become profitable but that means 2.5% of the Skyrim fanbase would need to purchase and subscribe to The Elder Scrolls Online, if those same predictions are valid.
If the comment regarding The Elder Scrolls Online Budget proves true, it does mean that players can at least expect a high-quality experience, even if it doesn’t quite meet the standards required to become the next big MMO, but what are your thoughts? Do you think it has the potential to become one of the most popular MMO’s of our time or is the transition to free-to-play an inevitable outcome?