On coming home from work tonight, I was re-assured to see a lot of other players cranky about the Elder Scrolls faction and race unlocks being sold as extras. Maybe I’m not crazy.
It was pointed out in forum commentaries that Matt Firor more or less promised 100% game access with the subscription, which is what we’ve come to expect from a subscription MMO. This is legitimate. These Turbine-esque statements were made. (Source.)
The cash shop was also said to offer “fun items and character renames”. (Source.) Race and faction unlocks are a lot bigger than that, and constitute triple-dipping (box sale, sub, and unlocks).
Atropos on Tamriel Foundry has similar points to those I made in my last post. For example, the factions are now a lot of meaningless except for the story. Atropos opines:
1) Incompatibility With Lore. “How can you justify over 50% of Dunmer opposing the Ebonheart Pact by allying with Altmer or Bretons? How could you fathom a majority of Altmer siding against their ancestral race? How could it possibly make sense for a majority of Bretons to take up arms against the King that unified their people?”
2) Destruction of Faction Identity. “The absolute best thing about a unique three faction system is the ability to identify and associate with your chosen group. ESO was off to a great start from the beginning with this, headed by Matt Firor, Brian Wheeler, and others of DAoC fame, they chose a three faction system where each alliance was different, with its own lands, ideologies, races, and political agendas.”
Faction identity is gone, along with some immersion. What about the mechanic of crowning an emperor? Why would an emperor from the Aldmeri Dominion (high elves, wood elves, and khajit) ever be a Dunmer or a Breton?
I would suggest a compromise to Zenimax if they are listening. Allow the cross-faction races, but add a penalty or two. Maybe you can only have one cross-character of each faction per account, and you can never be a cross-faction emperor. That sort of thing would pacify fans.
Otherwise, it’s more or less red/blue/yellow already, and the game hasn’t launched yet.
For more on this topic, ShoddyCast also has a video up, talking about boiling frogs and nickel and diming, and all kinds of good fight.
I disagree with Josh’s conclusion that these decisions were entirely the marketing and suits jacking the intention of the developers. I believe the imperials and cross-faction characters were always a design possibility.
The question is how it should be implemented: earned in-game, or purchased for more cash. Earned in-game is the way a subscription MMO should go. That’s the whole point.
And still more on these issues from Force Strategy Gaming, if you still haven’t had enough: “The reason I like sub fee games is because you don’t have to put up with bullshit.”