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The Elder Scrolls Online

Global Chat: Can MMO stories rise above mediocrity?

Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Allods Online, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, The Elder Scrolls Online

Players have long debated the importance, relevance, and quality of stories in MMOs. Some have called for an abolishment of dev-driven narrative entirely, some enjoy what's there, and some have pressed for better writing and storytelling techniques. This week we'll hear from one blogger who is struggling with "mediocre" stories in MMOs and what might be done with them.

But wait, that's not all! We'll also hear from writers about MMO inventory systems, aging games, and how pretty much nobody in the world was shocked when Elder Scrolls Online ditched its sub.

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Here's how to steal from NPCs in Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online

"Justice is coming to Tamriel," according to ZeniMax's latest website notice. It's probably more accurate to say that criminality is coming to Tamriel, though. More specifically, Elder Scrolls Online's upcoming Update 6 features the justice system which will enable your avatar to participate in a variety of underhanded activities including murder and thievery.

The latter involves relieving hapless NPCs of their valuables while avoiding those pesky town guards, and the former involves assaulting and even killing AI citizens. At some point you'll end up with a bounty on your head, which in turns affects how guards react to your presence. Click through the links below to read the rest of the details.

The Elder Scrolls Online answers player questions on its buy-to-play model

Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Buy-to-Play

It's fine.  I'm fine.  We're fine.  Everything is fine.
Even if you were among the many players predicting a business model shift for The Elder Scrolls Online, a change in business models can be kind of disturbing. Suddenly the game doesn't behave according to all of the same rules you've been familiar with since launch. To help alleviate that confusion, the ESO dev team hosted a quick question-and-answer session with players over the weekend to help answer some of the major questions about the change, the next major patch, and balance issues moving forward in the game.

To start with, if you've still got time cards for the game on your desk, fret not; you can still use them after the model transition to add the equivalent amount of subscription time to your account. You might want to use them ahead of time, though, since there are plans to add in a special veteran reward for players who stayed subscribed during the game's entire subscription lifespan. DLC prices are not finalized, but they are intended to be around the normal DLC price points for other games. Take a look through the whole of the answers for more details on balancing and issues like controller support.

The Think Tank: Analyzing Elder Scrolls Online's B2P model

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Elder Scrolls Online, The Think Tank, Buy-to-Play

Yesterday's reveal that The Elder Scrolls Online will go buy-to-play in March has prompted much speculation about the nature of the cash shop, the ethics of the switchover, the continued viability of the game, and the quality, cost, and frequency of the promised DLC. In today's Think Tank, the Massively staff will discuss the decision. Is B2P the right call for ESO? Was the exceedingly long delay of the console launch a huge mistake? What do we expect from the DLC? And is "Tamriel Unlimited" in fact the worst rebrand ever?

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Here's a 23-minute Elder Scrolls Online 'supercut' CG trailer

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online

ZeniMax has released a 23-minute "supercut" of its Elder Scrolls Online trailer series. The firm says that the CG production was "over a year in the making," and the final bit -- dubbed The Confrontation -- brings the battle for Imperial City to an end and reveals "a new and horrific threat to Tamriel."

Click past the cut to have a look.

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The Daily Grind: Will you play Elder Scrolls Online once it's B2P?

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Buy-to-Play

Yesterday's news that The Elder Scrolls Online is going buy-to-play in time for its console launch surprised... well, not many of Massively's readers. You pretty much saw it coming. Some folks around here said this move was a certainty even before launch and consequently refused to buy it, deciding that patience would pay off. (And it did!)

But what about now? I admit I'm much more tempted by a game that isn't charging an unwarranted fee and isn't abusing a cash shop. B2P is a great model for gamers, especially when they avoid lockbox crap (yay!). How about you? If you didn't play ESO when it launched last April, will you give it a try in March when it's down to just a box fee, a mild cash shop, and more traditional DLC?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Leaderboard: Is time or money more of a hindrance to your MMO habits?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard, The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online's forthcoming buy-to-play conversion is a hot topic at the moment, but sadly it doesn't do much for me on a personal level. Even if I hadn't already played and enjoyed ESO for a significant chunk of 2014, I don't have the time for another grindpark, however well made it may be and however well it scratches my IP-related itches. But hey, maybe I'll have time at some point in 2015. I hope so!

What about you, Massively readers? Is time or money more of a hindrance when it comes to your personal MMO habits? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Elder Scrolls Online to nuke subs ahead of June 9th console launch

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Launches, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Buy-to-Play

ZeniMax has this morning formally announced what the internet has been suspecting for months: The Elder Scrolls is going buy-to-play and dropping its required monthly subscription on March 17th for PC players, the same deal that will go live on June 9th for console players when it launches on PS4 and Xbox One.

Rebranded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, ESO will still have an optional premium subscription membership called ESO Plus, which will provide "exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs."
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited includes all the great gameplay from the original PC/Mac game, plus all the updates and content additions, including the exciting new Justice and Champion systems. All existing PC/Mac game accounts, open or closed, will be updated to the Tamriel Unlimited edition in March and former players will be invited back to the game at that time to experience all that is new in the world. New players will make a one-time purchase of the game and play, without restrictions, for as long as they like – without game subscription fees. Tamriel Unlimited will be supported with special, optional downloadable content available for purchase and an in-game Crown Store for convenience and customization items. Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges.
The studio will host a livestream at noon EST today to further explain the announcement, but for now, you'll have to be contented with The Confrontation cinematic trailer -- that, and your smug satisfaction if this announcement validated your own hunch.

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Hungry? Elder Scrolls Online is revamping provisioning

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Dev Diaries, Crafting, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

When The Elder Scrolls Online's Update 6 launches later this month, characters with the provisioning skill should go make us a sammich. Just kidding. But if you do decide to make us a sammich, you'll find the process much more streamlined and effective, as ZeniMax is plotting a major overhaul of the profession.

In a dev blog posted last night, the studio explained that it will be reducing the overall number of ingredients in the game, adding new recipes, updating the cooking UI, and giving food additives some oomph. Roleplayers will be happy to learn that lootable food-related objects will soon yield appropriate ingredients (apples from apple baskets, for example), and food buffs will make a bit more sense, like "meat dishes [that] increase your health and fruit dishes [that] increase your magicka."

If you're not actually a cook yourself, all you really need to know is that you should start skinning fish, cows, and chickens for meat and that drink buffs won't suck anymore. Hooray!

Elder Scrolls' new Champion Point progression system detailed

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online's Update 6 will introduce the Champion System, which is a "new way to continue your character's growth and customization" at endgame. Once you reach Veteran Rank 1, the system unlocks across your account and allows you to gain Champion Points for participating in activities that normally grant experience.

Only VR-level characters can earn the new points, but once earned the points are available to any of your avatars.

There's also a new account-wide mechanic called Enlightenment that builds over time regardless of whether you're logged in or not and grants a bonus to Champion Point progression. More details on the new system are available on the official ESO website.

Elder Scrolls Online boxes continue to vacate store shelves

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, Rumors, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

More Australian retailers have apparently lined up to pull boxed copies of The Elder Scrolls Online from store shelves.

Aussie gaming site Games.On.net reports that both Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi have deleted copies of the game from their physical stores. The unnamed Games.On.net source, who said he/she had seen the paperwork confirming the recall, claims that "all game cards and copies were pulled out of Harvey Norman, and the ONLY reason that would happen is because it has become a free product [...] if it was being brought out in a different format, it'd have a price drop, not a recall."

Last week, EB Games in the land down under began destocking ESO boxes, and Microsoft abruptly updated the game's scheduled release on Xbox One to February 24th, 2015. ZeniMax removed long-term subscriptions from the game back in December, claiming that players prefer shorter billing options and prompting widespread speculation about a possible impending business model change.

Elder Scrolls Online tweaks champion points conversion rate

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

The new endgame champion system coming to Elder Scrolls Online in Update 6 is the talk of Tamriel, and ZeniMax is evaluating feedback carefully to make sure that it launches without a hitch. The studio announced on Friday that it will be making a change to how it will convert veteran ranks to champion points.

Originally, the studio was going to give a blanket 30 champion points to any player who had at least one veteran rank on a character. Based on feedback, ZeniMax will now be converting veteran ranks to champion points at the rate of 200,000 XP per point at the moment of Update 6's release, for a maximum of 70 potential champion points for one's entire account.

The studio made it clear that champion points will not cost 200,000 XP after Update 6; this conversion rate is specifically for veteran ranks pre-release.

Rumor: The Elder Scrolls Online console version may be close

Fantasy, Business Models, Launches, News Items, Consoles, Rumors, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Second verse, same as the first...
Let's just start with the disclaimers, for those who have forgotten: Online retailers do not necessarily know the date of releases any more than you do. They just enter a future date for preorders and go. Amazon's release date for the console launch of The Elder Scrolls Online is still December 31st, 2015, which isn't a prediction so much as a way of keeping it in the system for this year. But Microsoft's listing of the game for Xbox One on February 24th, 2015, does merit at least a little attention.

Sure, it could just be a placeholder date, but it's awfully soon for a placeholder when the store could easily list December. It would also make a certain amount of sense, since the console version was originally slated for last month after its initial delay. So what do you think, readers? Is The Elder Scrolls Online just around the corner for console owners? Or is it just another placeholder date?

While you're munching on that rumor, you can also speculate about the fact that Australian EB Games stores are recalling all boxed copies of the game and all time cards, supposedly as part of a normal post-holiday stock recall. Or as a prelude to free-to-play. You decide.

[Thanks to squidgod2000 for the tip!]

One Shots: Shadow play

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, The Elder Scrolls Online

Welcome to a new year -- and the best year of One Shots you'll ever see. I know this because I've been to the future (December 31st, 2015) and spent those precious time-bending moments flipping through all of the One Shots column this year. Amazing stuff, people. Really well done.

Well, we might as well get started with your glorious photo journeys! Our very first pic of the year is from reader Becca, who sends us this groovy bit of shadow play in Elder Scrolls Online: "While waiting for a boss to spawn in a public dungeon, my friend Arkslan and my character Rozyn had some fun with lighting."

Great. Now I know what will be lurking under my bed tonight: a sing-songy bard. Terror knows no name, but it does sing harmony.

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The Elder Scrolls Online quietly removes six-month subscriptions

Fantasy, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Well that's not good.
Players are just a little bit leery of the fact that The Elder Scrolls Online has removed the six-month subscription option from the game. Oh, sure, it seems innocent enough; it's just a change in billing options. But it's also one of those changes that's happened in more than a few other games indicating that the game was removing the need for a subscription... or that the game was no longer going to be playable at all, in the case of Warhammer Online.

The official ZeniMax response on the French forums is simply that players indicated they preferred the shorter billing options, so the six-month option was removed. General sentiment in the thread is that this answer is not entirely credible. If it really is a harbinger of something more to come... well, we'll find out about it in about six months. Maybe five.

[Thanks to Siphaed for the tip!]

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