Bethesda Softworks’ grand experiment in subscription-based gaming comes to an end with the news that Elder Scrolls Online will lose its monthly fee in advance of the massively multiplayer game’s now-confirmed June 9, 2015 console launch.
The publisher confirms both of these points in a new post on the game’s official website. The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited comes to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 9, with the monthly subscription requirement that currently exists on the game’s Mac/Windows release shutting down on March 17.
Tamriel Unlimited amounts to a full-featured release of all things ESO to date, including the game’s recently added Justice and Champion systems. The new subtitle is a reflection of the dropped subscription requirements, so March 17 marks the Mac/Windows release of Tamriel Unlimited. It’s a free update for anyone that already owns the game and is now a lapsed subscriber; they’ll be invited back once the revised release launches.
Related: The Elder Scrolls Online review
Don’t make the mistake of thinking ESO is moving to a free-to-play approach; there’s still an up-front cost to buy the game, same as there was before. Think of it more in terms of something like Guild Wars 2, one of the more popular subscription-free MMOGs.
Once Tamriel Unlimited launches, Bethesda plans to continue supporting it with downloadable add-ons, sold a la carte. A new in-game Crown Store provides more cash flow for the publisher to keep growing the game, with convenience (presumably things like XP gain boosts) and customization items.
Subscription also continues to be an option following the launch of Tamriel Unlimited, with the premium ESO Plus option offering “monthly in-game benefits and a monthly allotment of crowns to spend in the store,” as well as access to all of the game’s downloadable content packs.
You can find additional details in Bethesda’s Tamriel Unlimited FAQ. Expect even more information to come out of a livestream from ZeniMax Online Studios, happening today (January 21) at 12pm ET on the studio’s official Twitch page.