I reported a little while back that we would give ESO yet another try. We did. After logging in, I struggled to find a single player actually doing anything out in the world of ESO. I then jumped into a PVP server to see it completely one-factioned with no one in the server and switched to another. This time, I see another faction has completely taken over that server and switched once more (to guest) and I see the exact same thing with yet another faction.
At this point I knew PVP was officially dead, there was no resurrecting it beyond the few dudes that like running around and measuring their e-pens and the fact that I saw absolutely no one in the newer zones, I gave up and logged off.
At E3, Tamriel Unlimited announced that they are “unlocking” and removing nearly all faction limitations and requirements and only limiting players from visiting Coldharbour until after they reach that part of the quest line. This was my confirmation that my experience wasn’t just anecdotal. When Zenimax has to open the gates so the segments of players that are left can see each other to prevent it from feeling like an empty game, while there are only 3 segments, the game is officially dead.
Sure, they’ll keep right on running the servers for a bit, hopefully, they can nab, into Zenimax’s pay to win scheme, a few more returning, and curious veterans. But this all leads to one inevitable and immediate fate. The servers will soon be turned off.
But don’t take my word for it.
This graph shows just ESO interest on Google Search. While we can argue that we’re only talking about one search engine, while they have the dominant share of the search market, we’re safer using them as an accurate sample. But pay attention to this, you see 2 distinct spikes of activity. The first spike was a very steady-rising spike, you can see when the game went beta from the first peek, then released on the second peek and you can see the first patch on the second peak, the third peak wasn’t an interest “rise” it was a failure, that is when the community manager told everyone on the forums there was nothing they could do about exploiters because it was a “TOS Grey Area”. Look at how hard that fell.
The second peek is very obvious, it was the announcement of Free-to-Play, but again, look at how fast that died. They are looking at pre-beta number as a player-base right now and telling everyone, “everything is fine”. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
But how do I know this? Well, experience.
A few games are listed on this one, but EQ is the one you should really study closer there. You can see when EQ2 released, of course, the 2005 spike is the marketing of that game. But something else also happened in 2005 that is interesting, the “Station Cash” shop was added. And what do you see? A steep decline, and even steeper when they added that shop cross-game for every SOE game but Vanguard.
But look at World of Warcraft in the same example. There is a very regular rhythm here: when a game is failing, the answer they want to use is “Pay to Win” or “Free to Play” from which, there is no coming back from. But you can see very clearly that neither model has ever helped any of these mainstream MMOs.
The difference between EQ/WOW and ESO is that these games had a running start before diving off the deep end, which has helped them keep the doors open just a little longer. ESO had no such running start, it was not a 10-year-old game with 20% of its fanbase that didn’t give a rats ass if the devs pissed on their heads and told them it was raining — No, what happened was this did happen in ESO and the fans told them to suck egg.
So what’s next for ESO? Well, the servers will eventually be turned off, that is to be expected. Because of this massive loss, as I can’t imagine they’ve finished paying their debt to develop the game, I don’t think we’ll see another big title from Bethesda for quite some time. This will be something that will take some accounting magic to wiggle out of; though, thanfully they did form Zenimax as a severable company so they could cut that limb of the company off if the debt got too much to handle.
In short, I wouldn’t advise buying Beth or Zeni stock any time soon.