ESO is not going to be my thing for so many reasons. I’m not a fan of the game world, but more than that, the game itself looks so incredibly dull. There’s precious little innovation here and I’m deeply concerned that ZeniMax/Bethesda doesn’t really understand the MMO industry and is perhaps stubbornly ignoring lessons of the past by assuming that ESO will succeed by the virtue of its name alone.
However, I am certainly not rooting for it to fail. I actually would love to see it flourish, not just because I have friends who will be playing it and I like seeing folks have a good time in their MMOs, but because ESO is uniquely positioned to be what I think of as an “ambassador” MMO. The Elder Scrolls IP and massive fanbase is an immense starting advantage, and done right, ESO could introduce MMO holdouts among the gaming population and even make converts among them. Folks who either have ignored or resisted MMOs will be poking their heads into ESO because it’s Elder Scrolls, and that’s an important opportunity to win them over.
But if it follows the SWTOR path of opening big then crashing hard and fast before hastily slapping together a F2P plan, then this is going to be the example that the mainstream will use as to why MMOs suck, why they’re a bad business model, why they should continue to be treated with contempt. I seriously do not want to see that happen, not again. I’m tired of journalists who only seem to know of four MMOs, tops, when they talk about them and continue to use the same small sample size for their points of contention.
I wouldn’t have chosen ESO to be such an ambassador, not with how it’s being made and positioned, but I don’t have a say in that matter. So instead, I’m hoping for all of our sake that it does well enough to avoid the type of downfall and backlash that some love to perpetuate.