For a moment it looked like the game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim might be jumping to next-gen consoles, as the PS4 and Xbox One were both listed under the game on Bethesda’s website. But it turns out a bug in the system caused the next-gen consoles to be listed in error. To clear up the confusion, Peter Hines, Bethesda’s VP of Development, took to Twitter. In his post he said, “We have been working on the CMS that runs our sites. A bug caused platforms that don’t exist to show up for some games. Sorry for the confusion.” So no Skyrim for you PS4 or Xbox One users, though Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to both systems in June of 2014 after coming to PC and Mac in April.
Speaking of the Elder Scrolls Online, its subscription fee in a time when so many MMORPGs are going to a free-to-play format was defended by CEO Ryan Dancey, who works for the developer of Pathfinder Online. Dancey argues that MMOs that charge a subscription fee have a proven track record with providing stable profit. Dancey says in a blog on MMORPG that subscriptions bring roughly $100 million to the West every month, while games using microtransactions in a free-to-play model bring in under half of that amount. Dancey writes:
“If we consider the MMOs that generate the most revenue in the Western market (North America, Europe, Russia, and Australia/New Zealand) a sizable majority of the revenue being generated is in the form of monthly subscriptions. The era of MMO subscriber transparency has ended but we can still make some educated deductions about these revenues and subscriber totals.”
Among those games with subscriptions Dancey lists as the best performers in the Western market include World of Warcraft, Runescape, Club Penguin, GuildWars 2, and Age of Conan. Dancey goes on to explain, “It’s even harder to estimate how much revenue is being generated from microtransactions (MTX), but it is extremely difficult to imagine that the revenue even approaches 50% of the amount being paid as subscription fees. Half the subscription revenue is coming from World of Warcraft and Blizzard has just begun to dip its toe in the MTX revenue stream. MTX revenue will clearly increase over the next several years but until and unless there’s a major shift in the market, it will remain a junior partner to subscriptions in terms of revenue generation. This may be the internal justification ZeniMax is using to benchmark its budget for Elder Scrolls Online. Skyrim, the most recent single-player entry in the Elder Scrolls franchise, is reported to have sold approximately seven million units, which we can impute translates to something like $210 million in revenue. If the MMORPG can carry that kind of weight, its budget becomes suddenly very rational.”
It’s debatable whether this will hold true, as subscription fees don’t have a proven track record with console audiences. We’ll see what happens when Elder Scrolls Online hits consoles this summer.
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