The Elder Scrolls Online is just over two-and-a-half years into its life. While Bethesda isn’t sharing specifics regarding the number of players currently enjoying the massively multiplayer game, it has given us some interesting indications of how that player base is split among PC and consoles.
Speaking to Polygon, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited game director Matt Firor said the player base is "pretty much divided 30 percent, give or take" between each of the game’s three major platforms — PlayStation 4, Windows PC/Mac and Xbox One. This is despite the console versions of the game not launching until over a year after Windows and Mac versions.
After an initial rush of players during the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online in April 2014, the number of players shrunk until Bethesda relaunched it as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited in March of 2015. This relaunch included the publisher dropping the monthly subscription fee that was initially required for the game, which led to many lapsed players returning.
"Our PC concurrency between the 17th and 18th of March[, the date that Tamriel Unlimited went live,] tripled," said Firor. "So on the 16th, we had N number of players playing. The 17th, we had N-times-3 just from getting players back."
"All service completely melted at like 12:01 a.m."
With the addition of new audiences for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game later in 2015, The Elder Scrolls Online once again reached and even surpassed the number of players it had found during its original launch.
"Console launch was everything that we wanted with the PC launch and more," Firor said. "All service completely melted at like 12:01 a.m. Our North American server went down for four hours because so many more people were playing than we had thought were going to be playing. Our forecasts were way low."
While Firor (and Bethesda generally) declined to share exact numbers for current players, they provided one anecdote. Around a week after The Elder Scrolls Online launched on consoles, Firor said they had 235,000 people playing simultaneously and over 200,000 in queues.
"So we had approaching over 500,000 people simultaneously on the system," he said. "That tells you how big this was. It was insane."
The latest update to The Elder Scrolls Online is called One Tamriel, and it once again brings massive changes to the game. With this update, players can explore and quest in any area of the world without level restrictions — content will scale up or down as necessary. This also allows players of all levels to group together.
The Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel launched earlier this month for PC and will be arriving on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One next week, on Oct. 18. For more on that update, read our huge feature on the history of The Elder Scrolls Online’s development.