Earlier today Bethesda revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online would be a subscription MMO. The reaction has been mixed, but Bethesda’s Matt Firor has been eager to justify the decision. Now we also have a number on the current beta sign ups: over three million and counting. It’s a huge number. To put it in perspective, Guild Wars 2 has just sold three million copies as it approaches its first year, and The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t even out yet.
Matt Firor hit us with the numbers today at Gamescom. “We’ve had well over 3 million beta sign-ups, which we haven’t announced before.” said Firor. “You don’t want to let too many people in early, because the game is, frankly, not too good in early beta and you don’t want to expose many people to that, but we’re well into the tens of thousands.”
I’ve watched the reactions come flooding in, and it’s been a mixed bunch. Is free-to-play the only future for new MMOs? World of Warcraft, EVE Online and Final Fantasy XI would certainly like a word if that’s the case. Even the upcoming WildStar and Final Fantasy XIV still believe in it. It’s not that free-to-play doesn’t work, but it’s an incredibly delicate business model that more often than not is executed poorly. A nice middle ground of pay-once has proven successful if Guild Wars 2 is anything to go by.
One does have to think however that many of these people would've signed up without prior knowledge of the recently announced subscription model. But Bethesda certainly have a lot of attention right now, and that’s a start.