Zenimax Online’s Matt Firor talks changes and further evolution for the MMO.
It’s not often that you’d associate an Elder Scrolls title with being the underdog. For a time though, before the release of Morrowind, Bethesda Softworks was in somewhat of an unenviable position and found itself fighting to maintain relevance. Though it won that fight, the Elder Scrolls name is still somewhat struggling but under a different name and developer, namely with Zenimax Online Studios’ The Elder Scrolls Online. Launching last year as a subscription-based MMO set in Tamriel, it didn’t quite result in flocks of followers.
However, changes are afoot. The game has been rebranded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited and the subscription fee removed. PS4 and Xbox One releases have finally been nailed down and we can expect the same in June. Speaking to game director Matt Firor, GamingBolt wanted to know what’s changed since we last visited the world of Oblivion and Skyrim. Find out for yourself below.
"With Tamriel Unlimited, you can subscribe to gain access to DLC game packs and other bonuses, or you can simply purchase the initial game and play as much as you like."
Rashid K. Sayed: Speaking in terms of life span, do you see The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited having the same lasting appeal as the likes of Oblivion or Skyrim?
Matt Firor: Yes, of course. Online games of this type have long, long lives as we continuously add to it. ESO will be around for as long as there is a community to play it.
Rashid K. Sayed: With The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited going subscription free post purchase, how will this change the business model that initially supported the game?
Matt Firor: We are still a subscription-based game; the change is that the subscription is now optional. We did this after going through all the feedback from the community and coming up with the idea that we have freedom of play style in-game, so why not extend that same freedom to the payment method?
Now, with Tamriel Unlimited, you can subscribe to gain access to DLC game packs and other bonuses, or you can simply purchase the initial game and play as much as you like.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the soon to be introduced optional subscription service in The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited offer paying players any special benefits?
Matt Firor: Yes, if you are an ESO Plus member – the name of the new membership plan – you will receive an allotment of 1500 Crowns per month to spend in the Crown Store, as well as get 10% bonuses in leveling some systems (experience point gain, crafting, etc.). Other than that, though, the game is exactly the same for non-members. We haven’t nerfed the base game at all.
"As for Crown Store items themselves, we’re focusing on customization and convenience items like costumes, mounts, and vanity pets."
Rashid K. Sayed: Now that the game will be following a model similar to Guild Wars 2, that’s to say its subscription-free post-purchase, do you expect this to boost sales of the game and draw in a new audience?
Matt Firor: It will give existing players the freedom to play the game and purchase items they want, including being an ESO Plus member. And of course, if anyone was originally turned off because ESO was subscription-only, then we’ve removed that barrier.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there any planned updates for the game that will be altering gameplay in any meaningful way in the wake of the upcoming changes?
Matt Firor: No, the only changes we have planned are things we’ve already talked about publicly: Imperial City, future DLC, removing veteran ranks (basing end-game advancement solely on Champion Points), and of course we’ll always fix bugs and continue to respond to feedback.
Rashid K. Sayed: Many gamers missed out on the chance to play the Beta for TESO. When Tamriel Unlimited rolls out, will you be offering a demo or trial of the game?
Matt Firor: We don’t have any currently announced plans for something like this, but we’ll be sure to let people know if that changes.
"As an old PC developer, we are accustomed to one thing over everything else: change. As such, we take the changes as they come..."
Rashid K. Sayed: With The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited making use of a “Crown” system in the game, can you elaborate on their functionality and whether subscription payers will receive more benefits from them than non paying users.
Matt Firor: Yes, we’ve already announced the benefits that ESO Plus members will have – 10% bonuses to things like experience point and crafting inspiration gain. Plus members will also receive 1500 Crowns per month to spend as they like in the Crown Store.
As for Crown Store items themselves, we’re focusing on customization and convenience items like costumes, mounts, and vanity pets. We’ll have some timesaving items like health/stamina/magicka potions, food, and drink – and we’ll have experience point boosting potions in there at some point as well.
Rashid K. Sayed: In our last interview with you guys, you stated that the console versions were running at 30 frames per second. Have you locked down the frame rate on the PS4 and X1 versions?
Matt Firor: We’re getting close to launch now and we’re pretty confident we’ll have 30 fps standard on both XB1 and PS4.
Rashid K. Sayed: As a developer which has its roots strongly rooted into PC games development, what are your thoughts on DirectX12 integration with Windows 10 and Xbox One? What kind of changes do you think this will bring to games development?
Matt Firor: As an old PC developer, we are accustomed to one thing over everything else: change. As such, we take the changes as they come – obviously DX integration is a staple of our livelihood, so we’ll do what we need to do. We’ll still need to support older DX versions on Vista, Win7, Win8 (.1) and of course on 10 we’ll need to make sure we support DX12.