The Elder Scrolls Online is a popular MMORPG with many great features, but its Crown Store often ends being controversial for its practices.
Monetization is often important for any MMO, as it is how the developer supports itself while continuing to provide content to its players. Though it is a buy-to-play game, The Elder Scrolls Online is no different, featuring various forms of monetization. The most notable of which is the in-game cash shop known as the Crown Store.
The Elder Scrolls Online‘s Crown Store features various items, such as mounts, armor styles, and even quality-of-life additions. However, how exactly some of these items are sold to the player can raise some eyebrows. Though none of it is pay-to-win, some of the Crown Store’s practices can be controversial.
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The Elder Scrolls Online features a buy-to-play system, where players can purchase the game, DLC, and major expansions while keeping permanent access to them. This is a breath of fresh air compared to games like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14, which feature mandatory subscriptions. However, The Elder Scrolls Online does feature an optional subscription service that provides players with access to every DLC, a craft bag, and a decent sum of Crowns (Crown Store currency). The Elder Scrolls Online‘s subscription, also called ESO plus, is definitely one of the more generous subscriptions found in MMOs. The monetization of the game and its content is not in question, however, as it is The Elder Scrolls Online‘s Crown Store that players are unhappy with.
One of the biggest gripes about the Crown Store is that it features loot boxes known as Crown Crates. Loot boxes are a contentious topic within the gaming community, as they are often compared to unrestricted online gambling. For reference, the drop rate for a Radiant Apex mount, which are among the rarest and best looking The Elder Scrolls Online mounts, have a drop rate of .28%. This means players would have to purchase 120,000 Crowns on average in order to receive one. That would also mean spending nearly $900 USD, before taxes. Not only does their inclusion damage the integrity of the game, but it can also be said to hurt the actual content of the game as well.
However, the existence of Crown Crates isn’t the only thing holding back the crown store. Many of the items in the Crown Store can also be somewhat egregious in terms of their pricing. For example, the Quasigriff was a mount in February 2023 being sold in the Crown Store for 4000 Crowns. In order to have enough Crowns to purchase it, players had to buy the 5500 Crown Pack, as there is no 4000 crown pack, only 3000 and below. A 5500 crown pack is $40 before taxes, which is twice as much as the base game itself, and just as much as an expansion. To make matters worse, the mount is a re-skin of a mount introduced in 2021. This puts even The Elder Scrolls Online‘s Crown Crates to shame.
Very few of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s mounts can be obtained through in-game activities. A majority of the game’s mounts come from the Crown Store, and this echoes true for other cosmetics such as emotes and armor/weapon styles. The few pets and mounts that players receive from simply playing the game, The Elder Scrolls Online players have not been too happy with. Knowing that the best-looking cosmetics in the game are locked behind a cash shop delegitimizes the achievements players work towards during their time playing the game.
In a game that features an optional subscription and yearly $40 expansions, the Crown Store can seem like a hindrance to The Elder Scrolls Online‘s integrity. The same rewards presented in the Crown Store could easily be made available to players through in-game challenges. Hopefully, with ZeniMax promising to listen to player feedback this year, The Elder Scrolls Online can see big changes and improvements to these systems, just as it has in the past.
The Elder Scrolls Online is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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