Come March 17, you won't need an active subscription to play The Elder Scrolls Online - you'll just need to purchase the base game.
Well, it looks like those Australian retailers knew something that we didn't after-all. Bethesda Softworks has now officially announced that The Elder Scrolls Online is going buy-to-play on March 17, and will be launching on PS4 and Xbox One on June 9 (where it will also not require a monthly subscription). Players will be able to subscribe instead to an "ESO Plus" service, providing exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns (premium currency) to use in the store, and access to all DLC game packs.
The buy-to-play rumors have been circling the game ever since Bethesda removed six-month subscription options, and many Australian retailers pulled the game from its shelves. However, it is not entirely "free", as players will still need to purchase the base game to play.
The new F2P version of the game, re-branded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, will be supported with special, optional downloadable content available for purchase, and an in-game Crown Store for convenience and customization items. Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players free of additional charges.
Xbox One and PS4 owners will still need an active subscription to Xbox Live Gold/PlayStation Plus to play the game. If you're a PC player who has an active subscription past March 17, the remaining subscription time will automatically transition to ESO Plus membership. Additionally, if you add any unused game time cards past the March 17 cutoff date, they will also simply transition to ESO Plus game time. No refunds will be offered for existing subscriptions.
"Our fans are our biggest inspiration, and we've listened to their feedback on the entertainment experience they want," said Matt Firor, Game Director of The Elder Scrolls Online. "We know that Elder Scrolls fans want choice when it comes to how they play and how they pay, and that is what they will get. We have made numerous changes to the game over the past year, and are confident this is a game that Elder Scrolls fans will love to play."
If you're still confused by the change, Bethesda will be running a Twitch Stream at 12 PM ET today that should hopefully answer all your questions.