The subscription model for The Elder Scrolls Online was designed to help fund "ongoing AAA support" and additional content for the title post-launch, according to Bethesda Softworks vice president of PR and marketing Pete Hines.
Speaking with CVG, Hines said Bethesda plans to push new quality content on a regular basis after the initial launch of ESO this spring. These updates will be designed to provide new experiences that show players they are getting value for their subscription.
Last August, developer ZeniMax Online Studios announced The Elder Scrolls Online would require a $14.99 subscription fee each month. At the time, general manager Matt Firor explained the fees would allow the developer to keep working with ESO, and that the subscription model fit the open-world experience ZeniMax wants to offer. Hines echoed Firor's statements, but expressed that he is "anxious" about launching an Elder Scrolls title attached to a subscription model, ESO being the first in the franchise — which Hines calls the company's "crown jewel" — to do so.
"If you feel like you're getting your money's worth for whatever you're paying — whether it be $15 for a month or $2 for a DLC — hen you're going to be happy," Hines said. "If you're not, then you won't. You could do a free-to-play game where somebody wasn't happy, because maybe they don't feel like they're getting value for the money that they played upfront, even if it's not a pay-by-month subscription."
Hines explained that the subscription fee is not about making players pay each month to participate, but built to allow developers to support ESO with regular "meaningful" content. In order to give ESO that kind of support, Bethesda needs a good-sized team dedicated to creating new content and working players' suggestions into the game.
"There's a couple of Guild quest lines in the game at the moment, but there are certainly noticeable Guilds that aren't in the game — there's no Dark Brotherhood, for example," Hines explained. "You can't set aside a bunch of people to work on a cool Dark Brotherhood quest line unless you've figured out a way that you're going to pay those bodies to spend that time. Otherwise you'd just put them onto something else.
"We feel like this approach is going to give people who want to play the best value, and reason to look forward to the next new thing that's coming out," he added.
The Elder Scrolls Online is set to launch on April 4 for Windows PC and in June for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Currently the game is in closed beta — check out our video preview for a first look.