ESO – It’s About The Horse

Yeah I pre-ordered the $79 Imperial Edition of ESO. Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?

I didn’t do it for the Imperial race, which I don’t care about. I fully expect Zenimax to make that available for purchase later anyway. I didn’t do it because I’m an Elder Scrolls fan boy and I think ESO is awesome. (I tolerate TES and I merely think ESO is better than average.*)

I mainly bought it for the horse. Because I happen to remember how much gold it took to buy those things in the beta, and I was able to calculate the amount of time it would take to buy one based on the rate that I was accumulating gold. (Hint: Infinite.)

(Of course, it’s possible they jacked up the horse prices in the beta so that a lot of people would make the same decision I did.)

(Also, somehow, in the beta, people managed to buy horses. I cannot even conceive of how much time those people must have played the beta, or why they would want to play a beta that much.)

I’m having a hard time understanding all the hate about ESO. It’s not a bad game by any stretch.

I’m seeing some disappointment that ESO isn’t more of a sandbox. This is mind-boggling to me. I feel like there’s now some twenty years of solid data to indicate that the majority of MMO gamers don’t want a sandbox. If people didn’t naturally gravitate toward theme parks, then EQ wouldn’t have become popular, and WoW wouldn’t have become popular after it. Sandboxes are for niche players only, so of course a smart AAA studio isn’t going to spend millions of dollars making a sandbox game. Especially when it’s going to a console.

I also feel like a lot of people are clinging to the idea that a new MMO needs to "feel like home" before they will spend any money on it. That it somehow needs to prove it will stay alive and active for at least as long as WoW has before anyone will commit to it.

I’m not looking for that at all. For a box price, I only hope to have fun for one month. Anything beyond that is gravy. If it’s a really good MMO I might have fun for about three or four months before burning out and needing a break. (Right now, FFXIV is starting to reach the end of that lifespan.)

I have seen an argument that it’s pointless to buy ESO now because it will eventually go free-to-play because subscriptions can’t last. I think maybe this is a generational thing. I generally don’t go around expecting to get things for free. Even if ESO does become free later, I don’t want to wait that long, and I’d rather play it when it doesn’t have all the ads anyway. It’ll be at least a year before it converts, if other games are any indication. Even TERA took a year, I think. I bought TERA when it came out and played for a month and decided not to subscribe, and I don’t feel the slightest bit cheated about it.

So I’m fully prepared for ESO to go free-to-play a year from now, if it happens. I’m not going to feel ripped off or cheated. I probably won’t be playing it by then, but I might see it as a chance to jump back into it. That’s what I did with TERA.

Having said all that, you should definitely not take my advice on whether to get ESO or not. I do have a tendency to spend discretionary money on games I don’t necessarily need or want. (I can’t even count the number of Steam games I’ve bought but never installed.) Quite often I’ll buy 3-month subscriptions to games on an impulse and then not play them. I’ve been cheerfully ignoring WoW, EVE and LotRO subs to keep playing FFXIV.

* My definition of an "average" MMO is something like Dragon’s Prophet or Allod’s Online.

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