I don't know enough about elder scrolls online to know if this is what's happening, but it would not surprise me if it was.
I do think that a elder scrolls mmo could work if it actually played like elder scrolls.
Elder Scrolls online is amazing, all I'm going to say about that.
The question is whether or not it being amazing matters. Have there been other non-WoW MMOs that were also "amazing"? Or were all these failures more mediocre attempts to unseat the king or simply not good enough? I thought the Star Wars MMO was quite good. The game cost somewhere around $150 to $200 million to make. It rose to 1.7 million in February 2012 but that started to taper off in a few months. In May it fell to 1.3 million and fell beneath 1 million in July. Every month at over 1 million is more than $15 million (the 1.7 million users being a $25.5 million month). That doesn't include the sale of the game. Then, in 2013 under the free to play model, they estimate that they made $139 million in revenue (in game purchases?) and they still have some subscription income that isn't included in that number.
So this is one of the most profitable games of 2013 and appears to already be well in the black depending on what their expenses are.
So maybe it isn't gangbusters like WoW but this is still a profitable business model. I will be a subscriber for the Elder Scrolls though, at least for a few months.
Roughly where I sit also.
One of the issues you get when you discuss something like "Is this good?", particularly when it comes to video games which are very individual experiences, is hyperbole.
Was WoW the best thing ever? It was good, it had a very consistent tone and was well designed. However you rarely get people who are able to look at a product without the extremes, then you have the people who tend to swing towards an extreme because they see other people like them there. It is a vicious cycle much more worthy of an article than the banal assessment of recent MMO development cycles.
Is ESO going to fail? Probably, the market is broadly made up of people who are still of the mindset that if you like it you must dislike everything else, the same people who drive the actual cycle that the article was alluding to and are entirely apathetic to the idea of being part of improving the market/industry. More often that not the people who argue either way for a games chances, particularly in a broader public setting, are just dancing to the tune of the executives and the investors.
As an example of that look at EA, regarded as a terrible company and a pox on the entire industry, but easily able to occupy the same space as other "better" companies because any chance of a change is impossible when the market itself is equal parts apathetic and zealous. The zealots drive people one way or the other, keeping franchises afloat regardless of their actual quality, so that those who have associated themselves with a given franchise aren't loyal so much as their are subject to the franchise itself. It is the "If I buy it nothing will change, if I don't buy it those jerks win. Better buy it." effect.
As much as ESO or Wildstar are points of discussion the actual conversation people need to be having is whether or not constantly espousing the ethos of "You like this, therefore you're stupid/wrong and I'm right/better" is something that can be addressed.
Said almost every mmo ever, and is still not fun
People always want their single-player games to be turned into MMOs because they want the world to feel more real. They imagine Pokemon where every trainer you fight is an independent person with a life and a thought process and you really are battling away across the lands. A world with thousands of Jedi. Skyrim with every shopkeeper behaving like a human being. The whole world but more true.
And then they play the new game and realize that MMOs are nothing like that
Star Wars Galaxies started out like that. Then came the NGE....sheesh. After that, I just quit. Storekeepers were actual people. Buildings and towns were made by people. The major problem with that game before NGE was the lack of balance and polish. Many quest lines were literally broken, many player skill sets were literally broken. Like pistoleer, for example. Disarming shot simply did not work.
Star Wars Galaxies was originally a game built on roleplay and immersion, which was honestly focused on making you feel like the world was real. But it had a downright horrible amount of broken stuff. NGE tried to "solve" balance issues that could have been fixed quickly by a competent team by replacing purchaseable skills with narrow, restrictive "classes," thereby removing a large part of the roleplaying element.
...I tend to obsess about the beast races. A lot.
Then how did you react on the (presumed) fact that the legs for Khajiit are not beast-like in TESO?
Correct. They are not. That is because this time, just like with Skyrim as well as oblivion, the Khajiiti variant that is playable is the Cathay, instead of the Suthay of Morrowind, who does indeed have plantigrade legs and much more paw-like feet. The appearance of a Khajiit differs greatly depending on the phase of the moons during his/her birth, you see. Seventeen types are known, but there are said to be more. No, it is not the human-like feet that bothers me. After all, the Ohmes are nearly indistinguishable from the Bosmer, and they were the variant playable back in Arena.
No, what bothers me is that so far, in TESO, the only Khajiit variants I've seen to far are the playable Cathay, the 'supposed' Senche, who not only to my great annoyance are treated as pets, but actually are the smaller Pahmar (or possibly Pahmar-raht, but that micht be a bit generous) as well as the Alfiq, who looks pretty much like housecats.
Both the 'senche' and the Alfiq are treated like pets as far as I've seen in ESO, and THAT is what really pisses me off. Seriously. All different Khajiiti variants (except possibly the Mane, but he's a bit of a special case) can be birthed from ANY other Khajiiti type. They all look the same at birth, but as they grow older, they adapt the form that the moons decide for them. I like that more forms are actually shown in ESO, but they really need to get the names right. Senche are not tiger-sized; they are the size of horses. Sheesh!
Seeing more khajiiti types at all is an improvement, mind, but I'd really prefer if they got their facts straight.