2013 was supposed to be “The Year of The Elder Scrolls Online.” When we first learned about the game back in 2012, rumors flew around the internet about when exactly it would launch, but no one knew for sure. It wasn’t until E3 when Bethesda announced the game would be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that we learned it had been pushed back to Spring of 2014.
Maybe it’s for the best, because had it launched this holiday, there’s a chance sales would have been low on consoles because not many people had a new system yet. By waiting until spring there may be 10 million next-gen consoles out in the wild just waiting for the first epic, amazing MMO of the generation. Players on both PC and console will be ready and waiting to devour the year’s most anticipated game.
~insert screeching record scratch sound indicating a sudden stop~
The Competition Just Got Tougher
Wait a minute… that is unfortunately no longer the case. Had ESO launched in 2013, it is entirely possible it could have launched as the year’s (or at the very least, the season’s) hottest, most anticipated, perhaps even best game. The PS4 and Xbox One launch titles are not exactly mind-blowing, so ESO could have been THE game to pick up with the system of your choice. But now, ESO is simply one of several big, major, and innovative games coming out in Spring 2014, and it runs the chance of getting lost in the crowd, especially considering its monthly subscription.
This isn’t meant to be a criticism of the subscription model. In fact, I think for ESO it was the right move. But launching alongside, or within a couple months of, Titanfall, Watch Dogs, Thief, Dark Souls II, and Infamous: Second Son (just to name a few) could mean it’s just another game in a great lineup of titles. And when gamers need to decide on what games to purchase with their hard-earned money, having to choose between Titanfall (perhaps the most talked about game of the year) and the subscription-charging Elder Scrolls Online, that extra $15 could come into play.
But even outside of the monthly fee, the sheer quality of those titles is hard to deny. Titanfall will likely be a an instant and massive hit. Watch Dogs will change the way we play open world games. Thief will redesign (or at least attempt to re-imagine) the stealth game. Infamous: Second Son will offer hours and hours of exploring the large, open world, both horizontally and vertically. The bottom line is that ESO is no longer the belle of the ball, but simply another beauty looking for a dance.
Walking the Treacherous Path
I certainly hope ESO finds a nice window where there isn’t too much else coming out so at least the initial purchase won’t necessarily compete with another major title. It will be tough for ESO to be THE big game of the year, and in order to stand out, ZeniMax Online Studios certainly has their work cut out for them. But if there is a game franchise that stands a chance at taking down Titanfall, it’s Elder Scrolls. And if there is a team that understands its fans and what they want, it’s ZeniMax and Bethesda.
The Elder Scrolls Online may have a tougher road ahead of it this year than it would have last year, but it’s certainly not an impossible task. 2014 can certainly still be “The Year of The Elder Scrolls Online”, but its path is suddenly much more treacherous.