Thursday, January 30, 2014

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Elder $crolls Online: Zenimax Forces ESO Fans to Pay More to Play as Popular Race in Their Upcoming MMO

Elder Scrolls Online CE Preorder
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When does a "Collector's Edition" bonus cross the line from being a collector's perk to non-collector's punishment? That's what The Elder Scrolls Online has me wondering after pre-orders went live this week, blocking off one of the series' most prominent races for everyone without $79.99 to drop on the upcoming MMORPG.

Just imagine if World of Warcraft 2 came out and did the same thing with Night Elves.

Given the shakey nature of many contemporary big-budget MMORPGs (and the fact that ESO is already in a precarious position due to the M rating it received from the ESRB,) irritating the fanbase with something this brazen doesn't seem smart. It wasn't even remotely necessary, either. Here's why:

More often than not, collector's editions are not intended for the casual fan. They tend to come with exclusive content appreciated only by hardcore admirers, items with significant niche appeal like art books, or access to in-game assets that are uncommon or otherwise special in some way. The collector's edition for Zenimax's new MMO has its share of these bonusses, but it also comes with access to a specific player race, the Imperials. That means that players who purchase the $59.99 standard edition instead of the $79.99 "Imperial Edition" will find themselves unable to play as one of the most significant races in the entire series.

Here's the most frustrating part: There's already a "new" non-player race in The Elder Scrolls Online that would have delighted collectors without irking more money-conscious fans. The Maormer, or sea elves, are in the game as an enemy faction encroaching on the shores of Tamriel. They've been mentioned in previous games, but they've never played as prominent a role as they will be in ESO. The option to play as a Maormer defector feels like it would have been a perfect fit for a collector's edition bonus. It's an exclusive enough opportunity to entice hardcore (and wealthy) fans without making others feel like a central piece of the Elder Scrolls world, a player race they may have favoured in multiple Elder Scrolls games in the past, is being withheld from them.  

What do you think? Does the "Imperial Edition" get under your skin, or are you eager to pre-order it for yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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Dartagan Shepherd

Ouch. No, I wouldn't drop $80 if they were holding a key part of the game hostage for it.

Of course I was very mildly irked that Blizzard is selling a beta deck of cards for their new Hearthstone game and that's only $2.

Pre sales are one thing, selling a beta product is something else, such as Patterns. Companies need to finish the product on their own budgets, rather than these tricks before the fact.


If post-launch there's no way to gain the Imperial race, it'd be a huge problem, but I doubt this'll be the case.

If it's as simple as we have to pay 20 dollars for a new race and cosmetic content. That's kind of steep without adjoining quest content, landmass etc. that's typical of an expansion...but it's not unusual to pay for extra races in MMOs, it happens with expansions. To pay extra for an extra race that was ready pre-launch however is still shady.

All and all it's not close to a great way of offering the race, but does the job. I immediately preordered. I'm glad ESO is not a F2P MMO and doesn't have a cash shop, granted this CE perk is right out the book of a cash shop in the worst way.


And Im just sitting here, waiting for Wildstar.

Arcadia Codesmith

I think I'll be saving my money for Everquest Next Landmark, which looks like it's just my kind of sandbox. They've made a lot of really smart choices so far, and I'm eager to see how it plays out.

Pussycat Catnap

This makes me so glad I am not on the hype train for this one.

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