The Elder Scrolls Online and the $1,000,000 Giveaway
In the past an MMO kept players engaged with their game by the psychology of the subscription model and providing content updates. Loyalty and the overall cost of running multiple games meant that most players dedicated themselves to one game and stuck with it. Free to play eliminated these ties and a lot of MMO players became a lot more itinerant. Developers therefore have had to become a lot more creative in finding ways to keep people logging into their games. Hence we now find many MMOs that feature daily rewards, content that has to be unlocked by claiming it and short term events that offer unique rewards.
The Elder Scrolls Online launched in April 2014 with a subscription based business model. By March 2015 the game went buy to play and was rebranded TESO: Tamriel Unlimited. Developers ZeniMax now find themselves in a very competitive gaming market in which MMORPGs are no longer the cash cow they were considered to be a decade ago. Like many companies they have been striving to maintain their share of the market and find a way to keep players logging in and playing, as well as encouraging perspective players to buy the base game. I must admit that their latest marketing campaign does have a novel approach and an interesting hook. Bethseda Softworks are to giveaway $1,000,000 to one lucky player, be they an existing or new customer.
The criteria for entry are at first glance somewhat straightforward. You need to log in to the game or complete an entry form available online by January 10th 2016. The winner will be drawn on 1st February and the funds duly paid. At present the base version of the game is currently retailing at its full price, although discounted keys can be found from reseller sites. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were another major Steam sale over the Christmas period. Needless to say the chance to win such a cash prize will definitely cause a spike in account logins. Whether returning players decide to stick around remains to be seen.
Like most competitions there’s a wealth of small print as well as terms and conditions. As each country has its own legislation governing giveways some geographical regions are excluded from entering. As you would expect this has caused those affected to protest most vocally online. As for myself, I briefly considered buying the game and entering but when you consider the initial cost and the approximate odds of winning, this is not a particularly sound gambling proposition. Sure I’d end up with a game that I could play but I have neither the time nor the inclination for another MMO at present. Part of me also thinks this stunt is a little tacky. I’d much rather be enticed to play a game because of some well-made new content. But this is how the gaming industry runs nowadays. Mass appeal has simply lead to greater commercialism. Makes you wonder what the next developer/publisher will do to top this?