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Thursday, May 8, 2014

TESO Console Delayed. Good Decision?

[caption id="attachment_2503" align="alignright" width="648"]No Console No Console[/caption]

This announcement about The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) today from Zenimax,

We know from the frequent questions we get that many of you are excited about playing ESO on the PS4 and Xbox One, and today we’d like to share an official update on the status of these releases. Read on for the latest information:

We've been grateful to our fans for the wonderful response to our recent launch of The Elder Scrolls Online for PC/Mac, but we know many of you are eagerly waiting to play the game on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

We continue to work on the console versions of ESO, and game development has been progressing steadily, but we are still working to solve a series of unique problems specific to those platforms. Integrating our systems with each console manufacturer’s networks—which are both different from the PC/Mac system as well as different from each other—has been a challenging process. It has become clear that our planned June release of the console versions isn’t going to be possible. Though we have made great progress, we have concluded that we’ll need about six months to ensure we deliver the experience our fans expect and deserve.

We know that the news of an ESO console delay is as disappointing to many of you as it is to us. We want to do what we can to make it up to our fans who want to start playing now, so we have worked out the following arrangement with Sony and Microsoft:

Via a special offer, anyone who purchases and plays the PC/Mac version of The Elder Scrolls Online by the end of June will have the opportunity to transfer their character(s) to either console version when they are released. The offer will allow you to begin playing immediately on the PC/Mac, and then add the PS4 or Xbox One version and transfer the character(s) you have created and developed. And, you don’t have to pay full price for the game twice. For $20, eligible PC and Mac players will have the option to add a full, digital version of ESO on either the PS4 or the Xbox One with your character transfer(s), and another 30 days of included game time.

Whether you decide to take advantage of this offer or not, we promise to do everything we can to get the game released on both consoles as quickly as we can. We will keep everyone updated with additional details regarding character transfers, specific offer dates, when you can expect console beta to start, and of course, when ESO on consoles will launch.

Thank you for your patience and loyal support.

The first thing to occur to me as I read this was, "Why would anyone with a PC want to move the game to a console later?" I mean seriously, TESO on my laptop (let alone my gaming desktop) looks better than any console game I've ever seen. And yes, I am prejudiced in that regard. I gladly admit that I am a graphics snob. I run my graphics as high as I can set them. Gorgeous games should be gorgeous. That's half the enjoyment I get from playing games. It's like going on a vacation to a new and exotic country without full body scans. I'd rather lose a fight because my system was a split second slower than my opponent's, than willingly live with craptastic rendering. So I really can't see many people who would care about the $20 for a digital copy allowance for not getting TESO Console next month.

I see that particular "bone" as simply a justification for having to face reality. The reality is, there is enough wrong with PC TESO that console development would be an absolute waste of time. It would take resources away from the development team at a time when they are needed to fix all those annoying issues others are having with TESO. And with the level of dissatisfaction that's been gleefully fed by all the game-zines (makes for great traffic flow but really is a disservice,) Zenimax needs to spend every minute of developer time appearing as if they take the issues seriously. Making TESO "better" is the only thing they can afford at this point. That's the only way they are going to turn all the negative press around. It's a difficult proposition and they know it. First impressions are the ones that last longest.

Personally, I feel it is the correct decision. They are currently not losing any console business. It doesn't exist. And with the current negative atmosphere surrounding TESO, thinking they'll pull their fat out of the fire with a console launch would be the height of self-delusion. My more cynical side wonders if the 5-day award of free play time for so little actual server down time (I experienced none) was more an effort to delay the 30-day exodus than make amends. I certainly wouldn't bet against that possibility. That 5-day extension was as much a gift to Zenimax as it was to the players. It gives them more fixing time.

That begs a question. Where do they go from there? I expect to see more bequeaths from Zenimax before the 5-day period ends. They'll amount to little more than bribes, but it could work. For instance, what if they were to give every current player a horse? Would that convince some to stay? It wouldn't affect gameplay all that much. I find I use shrines more than my horse anyway. Still, I'm not certain anything short of more free game time will work. And if Zenimax goes that route, aren't they flirting with free-to-play (F2P,) at least for a while?

I could see where limited duration F2P might be tempting. It's also a dangerous precedent. Once regulations, and that's what a subscription agreement really is, are loosened, it's very difficult to tighten them again without upsetting people. Entitlement sets in when people become accustomed to getting something for nothing. That's the whole "outrage" behind every complaint when another seriously cool game fails to release on a F2P model. People want to believe it's all about the publishers being money-grubbing capitalists, and somehow that's wrong - even immoral. There's nothing wrong with it though. It's the way the world economy operates. Products have value because they cost money just as much as they have value because they are needed. Even something that is needed, once given for free, suffers devaluation. That's as bad a spiral as inflation... I'm getting off topic. Sorry.

The last thing I'd like to discuss is the new TESO console release date. It won't be until the Christmas shopping season. I have a concern in that too. It puts TESO Console in direct competition with every new console game, including Assassin's Creed V: Unity, that will release for the Christmas buying frenzy... I mean season. That's a title that's done very well on the console platform. I've not played Assassin's Creed on a console, but I have played it. Remember that graphics bias to which I admitted? Yeah, that's why I'd play Assassin's Creed V: Unity over TESO. Putting Console TESO up against a title like that is... well, not optimal for success. Let's leave it there shall we? Zenimax has a long, hard, uphill climb ahead of them. I wish them luck, because I really enjoy The Elder Scrolls Online.


1 comment:

  1. Now if only they would have had the wisdom to do the same for the PC. Bethesda/Zenimax have a pretty good history of just releasing a buggy game and cashing in . Kinda surprised they delayed good decision tho. I played in the last few beta test and once I saw they planned on a quick release I knew I wouldn't be pre-ordering.


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