More Stores Pulling The Elder Scrolls Online

Way back before The Elder Scrolls Online finally hit store shelves, ZeniMax Online General Manager Mat Frior said that the highly-anticipated MMORPG would not have a free-to-play model (F2P). Why? Because the team felt that it had premium content in its hands, and it didn't want to make "sacrifices and changes" that are associated with introducing a F2P model.

"The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want," Frior said. "We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play."

Now, there's speculation that the MMORPG will introduce a F2P model anyway. Last week, Kotaku Australia reported that EB Games was ordered to send back all copies of The Elder Scrolls Online as well as the related pre-paid cards by January 13. This followed ZeniMax's previous removal of the 6-month payment plan, thus leading to the current speculation.

However, EB Games quickly nuked the rumor, reporting that it's normal for the store to send back excess stock to the publishers. The Kotaku report was quick to point out that excess stock doesn't typically include pre-paid cards and other merchandise. In fact, everything related to the MMORPG is being recalled, unlike other recalled overstocked titles like The Evil Within and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which are still being sold in the store.

Now it seems that a few other retailers are pulling the game as well. reported that Australian retailer Harvey Norman is no longer selling the physical version of the MMORPG. An unnamed Harvey Norman source said that the only reason a company would remove a game and all related items would be due to the publisher making the game free to play.

According to the report, JB Hi-Fi supposedly also pulled the game last week and was requested to store the copies in the back "until further notice."

In the United States, The Elder Scrolls Online for the PC is still on sale, costing $59.99 for the base game and $79.99 for the "Imperial Edition." Fans can also purchase merchandise such as a wallet and wrist band, a T-Shirt and Guar plush toy.

The Elder Scrolls Online launched on Windows PC and Apple Mac back in early April 2014. The MMORPG was developed by ZeniMax Online Studios, and it currently has a 71 out of 100 critic score and a 5.7 out of 10 user score on Metacritic. The game also landed a 70.93 percent score on Game Rankings.

Would an F2P model provide better results? Who knows at this point. ZeniMax's Frior said that a subscription model would free users from feeling monetized. "The fact that the word 'monetized' exists points to the heart of the issue for us: We don't want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for - with our system, they get it all."

We've reached out to Bethesda for comment.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • Adroid
    I really wanted to like that game. Heck, if it went to a F2P model I might even load it up again. The transition from beta to live the game changed drastically, and my particular build was unfortunately not viable.
    F2P is not a bad model, and publishers indefinitely make more money from it... and maintain a larger "casual" player base to boot.
    The way to do it right is allow the pay part of F2P to give cosmetic items and small bonuses without making the game completely imba. People pay good money to ride a cool looking mount or have more "bling" on their in-game toon. Conversely, F2P starts to be a real drag when people are able to instagib you due to their monetary contributions.
  • eodeo
    10/10 will not play. Sincerely an Oblivion/Skyrim fan. Will not even take a look.
  • Grognak
    Zenimax got too greedy. They thought Skyrim's 20 million players would make 20 million suscribers. They thought we'd take everything they'd throw at us as long as it was labelled "Elder Scrolls". They thought we'd be happy to switch from a completely open character system to one with an extremely limited class choice. And if all that wasn't enough, the game is simply subpar compared to the competition. ESO will get F2P, the console versions will never be released, Zenimax will never make an MMO again.
  • supere989
    Meh, World of Warcraft for the EPIC MMORPG Win.

  • hjj174
    ESO really isn't that bad of game, it just has a very slow early game. Even though it's not a true Elder Scrolls game in a sense, it still expands the lore and really gives an idea into what Bethesda imagines the rest of Tamriel as. Some one will probably say Bethesda didn't make it, which is true, but they did contribute to the development team through lore and concept arts.
  • stevo777
    It just want to see a single player ES6 game come out.
  • tomfreak
    Remember that u wonder around skyrim, and found a hunter camp or a small bandit hut or even a bandit fortress? These are real estates. ESO is a big world, why dont they start selling/renting these in game houses like how the real world works? todays world, it all about social, I am pretty sure some people would pay hundreds or even thousands for an In-game luxury mansion where they can pickup items(which some are part of micro-transactions) and decorate like how skyrim heartfire DLCs. People like to show off, give them something to show off. Valve understand it well , look at those background profile, steam levels.

    The money collected from here could easily enough to keep the game free to play.
  • bak0n
    4 people X $15 a month was to much for me. I can fly round trip to Europe once per year for the annual cost of the game in my situation. Had they actually done a "Lifetime Sub" plan I may have forked over the money at that point. Not any longer.
  • RedJaron
    No pay gates for 100% of the content? Um, is the $20 extra for the Imperial Edition still the only way to play a Cyrodiil?
  • Spazzy
    F2P sucks... If it goes F2W, I will immediately uninstall the game. This is a very good game that suffers from a few fatal flaws;
    1. There are a ridiculous amount of bugs in the game.
    2. The guild system is poorly constructed. There is no sense of belonging to a guild, they are simply a way to gain access to an auction house.
    3. Leveling is arduous at best. It's not too bad early on, but later, especially the veteran levels, it is just a grind.
    4. But, the biggest flaw of all, there is nothing new in this game. Zenimax failed to bring anything unique to the table. They have the justice system coming which will finally bring something to the table other mmo's don't have, but it may be too late.

    There is a lot to love in this game as well;
    1. The combat system in entertaining and requires you to play your toon instead of relying on a set of stats.
    2. The dungeon system is a blast. Who needs raids when veteran dungeons require raid like precision and can be completed in an hour.
    3. Challenges give you yet another thing to do with your friends.
    4. You don't have to spend half your game time hunting for mats. They are easy enough to find, but you also get plenty from de'ing gear.
    5. Gold isn't hard to come by. No reason for gold spammers to ruin the game.
    6. You can gear yourself instead of relying on RNG for appropriate drops.
    7. PVP is easily accessible. You do not have to be fully leveled to enjoy PVP content.
    8. THE GAME ENJOYS A MOSTLY MATURE USER BASE. Zone chat doesn't look like high school just let out.
    9. The game has plenty of solo content. You are not reliant on others to be able to enjoy your game.

    Unfortunately, Zenimax's failure to separate this game from the mob at launch will very likely lead to it's demise. Now that WOW's expansion pack has launched, the competition will likely kill this game off, at least in it's current iteration.