Bethesda says there's only room for one hero in the Elder Scrolls universe, and that hero is you alone.
The Elder Scrolls games seem to have every ingredient needed to bake a sweet MMO: A massive, immersive world, a well-defined stable of anthropomorphized species, recognizable style, and a gigantic fan-base from which to extract copious amounts of money. Bethesda (or at least its game director, Todd Howard), however, apparently isn't too keen on making the jump.
Despite MMO rumors last year claiming exactly the opposite, Howard has come forward in an interview with Joystiq explaining why The Elder Scrolls is only interested in the "M" standing for "Massive."
"I like this kind of game better," he said. "You know, it's what most of us are into. I'm not really an MMO guy. I respect them, I look at them, but I don't play them. It feels more real to me when I'm the hero and it's crafted for that. A community aspect to it, I recognize a lot of people would want that in a game like this, but it changes the flavor for me."
"The audience we have for our kind of thing is big enough that we don't have to tone it down," he continued. "We can just do our thing, and it's kind of grown with each game. So there was no pressure from anybody above me to say 'Hey, you need to change this.'"
It's always nice to hear that some developers still champion player experience over a quick and dirty bonus cash in. That isn't to say that all MMOs are the product of greed, but we've all been privy to the recent onslaught of "multiplayer because we can" additions to already well-designed standalone single-player experiences. It's impossible to say whether Bethesda would be able to pull off an Elder Scrolls MMO if it actually tried, but with Skyrim just around the corner, now's not the time to be whining about not having enough trolls to stab. Even if you're already planning to flay Alduin the World Eater in one sitting, would you really be satisfied with the inevitable inclusion of "kill 15 imps for 15 samples of imp gall" collection quests anyway?