Elder Scrolls MMO? Way to kill your brand, Bethesda

4 mins read

The big news in the gaming industry this week has been, of course, the unveiling that the next Elder Scrolls game will be an online MMO.

I already expressed my frustration with that idea when it was just a rumour, but given that it’s all official now I’d like to jump back up on my soapbox for a moment to make a broader argument: enough with the MMOs already.

I get why developers and publishers like the idea of an MMO, I really do. They see the popularity (and the dollars) of World of Warcraft and want a piece of the pie for themselves. They see the numbers; the raw hours people spend in a good MMO and realise that it’s the perfect branding exercise for building communities around popular game properties.

And so we have Warhammer, Conan, Final Fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings and a host of other MMOs based on licenses. Now Elder Scrolls too.

But here’s the secret, guys: you can’t out World of Warcraft World of Warcraft. It’s silly to even try. That game has a what, 10 year head start on any new MMO? Here’s my ultimate concern with the idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO: The Elder Scrolls games have always been premium quality. The best possible games in the genre that developers can make. The Elder Scrolls MMO will not be that.

I’ve got no doubts it will be an OK game. It’s being directed by the guy behind the eternally decent Dark Age of Camelot. It’ll find a community of fans. I’ve got no doubts about that. I also don’t think it will replace World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Starcraft or any other online game as the king of owning people’s time. And in doing so it’s going to be a shadow, when it’s a series that’s used to casting the shadows.

That doesn’t help your brand, Bethesda. It dilutes it. And for what? To cave into the idea that games have to have multiplayer to be worthwhile now?

I would have been ok with the idea of a Journey/ Dark Souls style multiplayer, where there are real people about, but interaction is limited to extending the single player experience, rather than replacing it. As it stands though, I can’t help but be disappointed that yet another bastion of single player quality has been let go in a bid to chase after money that’s not really there.

Congratulations, Bethesda, you’re about to, for the first time, have real competition. Those bugs you’re so good at throwing into your games are going to kill you.

Time to open up the comments section to civil and rational debate. Do you think Elder Scrolls MMO can knock World of Warcraft off the top spot?

This is the bio under which all legacy DigitallyDownloaded.net articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

  • While I have no comments to add,  I did notice a bit of an error: "raw hours spend in a good MMO" should be "raw hours *spent* in a good MMO".

  • The words 'Elder Scrolls MMO' make me joygasm. But…I also realise that all the specific features that make Elder Scrolls games what they are, can not exist in an MMO. Moral choices, killing NPCs, endless loot and mercantile, the combat system…the list goes on.

    The only thing you can safely say is that the events you will experience upon turning every corner would be as exciting as any of the series games.

  • Hi Justin, thanks for the input!

    I think the key thing here is how Bethesda positions the game. Is it Elder Scrolls VI? If they try and do that, it'll go down as badly as Final Fantasy XI/ XIV, I think. The vast majority of people who grew up on the Arenas and Morrowinds do not want a MMO in the series.

    If, however, it's a "side story," I think people will either play it or dismiss it as they prefer, and continue waiting for Elder Scrolls VI.

  • I would prefer Elder Scrolls VI. I started playing back in Morrowind. Id love to see what they can do with an MMO, but I wouldnt expect it to compare. I love MMos and have played them all, but when I get into them, I play alone. I dont need the social aspects. I just need more Elder Scrolls.

  • I think it's way too soon to tell how it will turn out.  MMO's tend to get more beta play and testing on them than typical console releases, so hopefully the bug issues they are famous for can be mitigated some that way.

    I also think WoW is ripe for the knocking off and Elder Scrolls is positioned to do so because they'll be building on newer technology that won't be showing nearly a decade of legacy age, and it's an established, popular brand.

    That said?  These things didn't help with the reception of FF XIV and this could turn into a colossal disaster too. 😛  I really don't play MMO's at this point (WoW got enough of my life for a few years there), but I am curious to see how this goes.

  • I don't think it is a good idea. Bethesda can't even make games that lack bugs when it's offline only, and now they're going to do an all online game in a genre known for bugs? No thanks!

  • I love MMOs, just can't wait to be apart of another online community – this time it's The Elder Scrolls Online.

  • You can't out World of Warcraft, no.  What you can do is take a stab at making something different.  Something unique.  There is room for more MMOs than just WoW.  Look at EVE.  Whatever your opinion of the game may be, the fact is it's chugging right along, doing its own thing.  

    If they want to make a game that tries to do everything WoW does it'll just be another mediocre MMO that will draw a handful of people from WoW for a bit, then gradually fade into obscurity.  

    If they try something daring, for example keeping the Elder Scrolls' classless system, its sense of exploration, etc, they may have a colossal failure on their hands or they may have something amazing.  

    Since the latter is the biggest risk, I'm certain we're just going to see a stripped down WoW with the Elder Scrolls brand stamped on the front.  Too bad.  

  • Hi Cynic,

    Thanks for the input! While I do agree with you 100 per cent, I don't think there is any chance the Elder Scrolls MMO will be as innovative as it needs to be. The director is not of that kind of calibur, and this is the kind of game that's too big to risk failing. As such the pressure will be on to make a sanitised and "safe" MMO with a guaranteed audience.

    In other words, as you said, a WoW clone.

  • I've always been a proponent of the single-player experience being extrapolated into an MMO environment. Unfortunately, I always run into the wall of MMO fanboys who ask me the same question, phrased one way or another, summed up as "Why do you want to play a multi-player game with a single-player experience? Go play a single-player game and leave us alone."

    It's about depth of play. I like playing around other people, but I don't like being forced to play with random strangers. I have a grown-up schedule and can't carve out hours of my life for a raid or whatever… but I love the expansiveness and real human interaction of an MMO. And focusing more on exploration rather than grinding would be a step in the right direction, too. Part of a great single-player experience is constantly finding new things (which is why "hand-crafted" locations are in such demand in RPGs).

    So, hopefully, Bethesda won't just make yet another weak echo of the WoW design and actually make something different, focusing on the people who have made their RPGs so popular — the people who like exploration and a strong single-player experience. But if they make something that requires raids or forced partying to make it through, I'm out. And I've been a Bethesda fan since the Arena days.

  • I heard (or red somewhere) that Bethesda have/had or will have nothing to do with this MMO, and that they are going to continue making single-player games and let some other poor fuck fail with this bullshit…

  • If they have first-person perspectives, good/evil questlines, lycanthropy and vampirism, item/spell crafting, smithing, cooking, alchemy, enchanting, loads of dungeons — all in the vein of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim (and taking place in those game spaces including all of Tamriel and places that were poorly under-represented in spin offs, aka Hammerfell)… then there's a lot of good to be said about this game's playability and depth.

    It won't oust WoW or GW2, but it'll have a good shot at SWTOR, FFXI/XIV and LotRO 😉

    Actually, if the combat and leveling mechanics and event systems (something which Bethesda almost nailed with Radiant tech) and NPC interactions/variations are also good enough, it might just be able to compete.

    But, if nothing else, make TESVI include co-op or "anti co-op" a la Dark Souls… hell make its multiplayer a mix of Dragon's Dogma meets Gears of Warcraft (aka Hunted: Demon's Forge) meets Diablo (obviously most co-op RPGs borrow from that) meets Guild Wars meets Elder Scrolls. And have the sixth game take place in BLACK MARSH or EYLSWR!

  • Previous Story

    Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing gets updated on iOS

    Next Story


    Latest Articles