Subscription models are a tricky thing to make work in this day and age. At one point, they were the only way to keep massively multiplayer online games running. Games like Everquest and World of Warcraft thrived in the pay model. That was about a decade ago now though. Most subscription based games fall before too long now…well, except the aforementioned World of Warcraft which seems like it will outlive the human race at this rate.
Most MMOs today sustain themselves on free to play models with games like Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online making quite a good living for themselves. That is why people were surprised when The Elder Scrolls Online announced it would have a high retail price and subscription on top. That doesn’t seem to have gone over too well either. The game has had a fairly steady player base, but it’s numbers have been far from stellar.
Well, it looks like the game might be positioning itself to explore free-to-play as it has stopped selling 6 month subscriptions abruptly. As noted by PC Gamer, when this was brought up by the French forums for the game, a moderator said people just preferred paying for 30 to 90 day subscriptions, so they got rid of the 180 day option. For now, I will take that at face value, but It does seem weird to limit the audience’s choice if there isn’t a plan in place to change the subscription model in the immediate future.
Time will tell on this one. I had a go on The Elder Scrolls Online when it was in beta and found it to be promising. Transferring Skyrim play to an MMO is an enticing proposition. That initial buy in has always been a stumbling block though. I may give it another look in if the game does switch to a free model. I’m sure many others will too.