It's a strange thought, to consider that a game that so many are looking forward to may ultimately mean trouble, but in this case—as is so often the case—it's not necessarily the one point in isolation but rather the impact on the broader market. In this case, it may well mean trouble ahead for Sony
, and it may be an opportunity for Microsoft
to win some credibility back.
The news recently emerged—earlier today, actually—that Bethesda was planning to charge users $15 a month for access to “The Elder Scrolls Online”. Reasonable enough, really; MMOs are commonly subscription games. But what caught more than a few by surprise was that, once again, the paywall was about to attack, and that $15 to play “The Elder Scrolls Online” was in addition to the Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Network account needed to play an online game. Thus, this took the price range per month to $20-$25 a month for Xbox One players, or between $20 and $21 for PlayStation 4 players.
Naturally, the news that Bethesda was basically going to run into a situation where gamers would be double-charged to play on consoles while being only charged once on PC
wasn't exactly welcome news, and word followed that Bethesda was looking to “continue to discuss” the matter with both Sony and Microsoft. But Sony in particular may be inclined to reconsider its stance thanks to a certain matter we noticed earlier.
A little under a month ago, back in July, we noticed that the game lineup looked a little skewed in a certain direction for Sony, particularly in that Sony was looking to get a lot of MMO titles in place. That massively multiplayer online experience was really giving Sony a chance to stand out and offer up some titles that weren't going to be part of the console experience elsewhere, but at the same time, the recent “The Elder Scrolls Online” issue raises a potentially nasty point.
Now, it's far too premature to say that this will be a problem. It is, however, something that could be a problem; if Bethesda and the consoles—if all the game makers and the consoles—can't come to terms on this, it's going to leave gamers in a bind. Considering that many games are looking to cost around $60 or so, most gamers aren't going to want to pay the equivalent of the game's asking price every three months or so just to continue playing it. That's going to destroy the value proposition, and take away one of the biggest differentiators that Sony had going for it aside from the lower entry price point. Microsoft, meanwhile, was nowhere near so heavily involved in terms of online gaming, and that means less impact for that side of the equation.
Naturally, only time will tell as to just how much damage the double-dipping has in terms of games, but for those considering the longer term, it may have more than some would expect.