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. Games.on.net 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.