ZeniMax Entertainment has confirmed console buyer’s worst fears. This past Thursday the company announced that the Xbox One and PS4 versions of Elder Scrolls Online, its massive online role-playing game that’s available on PCs & Macs today, won’t be releasing on-time.
Confirmation of the game’s delay first arrived yesterday when ZeniMax posted a new entry to its list of Frequently Asked Questions that included information about a six month delay saying, “It has become clear that our planned June release of the console versions isn’t going to be possible, we have made great progress, we have concluded that we’ll need about six more months to ensure we deliver the experience our fans expect and disservice.”
A statement released later elaborated on the cause of the delay a bit more saying that they are “still working to solve a series of unique problems specific to those platforms.” It seems that ZeniMax might have underestimated the amount of work it would take to bring the game to consoles. More specifically, ZeniMax’s statement puts the delay squarely on the shoulders of how Xbox Live and PlayStation Network operate as compared to the PC or Mac.
This delay isn’t great news for users who might have purchased an Xbox One or PS4 specifically for Elder Scrolls Online and a deal ZeniMax is offering to users underscores this. Elder Scrolls Online players who purchase the game now for Mac and PC will be able to transfer their characters from those versions to the Xbox One and PS4 versions whenever they do finally make it to store shelves. ZeniMax is also letting PC and Mac users who purchase the game now add a digital download of the Xbox One and PS4 to their orders for an extra $20. Users will also get an entire month of extra game time. That’s key since Elder Scrolls Online requires a $15 a month subscription regardless of where it’s played. More specifically, it’s a great deal for Xbox One users who are going to also need to pay for Xbox Live in addition to the game’s subscription fee on that console.
ZeniMax didn’t announce a deal for user who’d prefer to play the game on a disc instead of through the Xbox Games Store or the PlayStation Network. At this point, those users will need to pay the full $60 to get their hands on the game. They’ll still be able to port their character and all their items over to the console titles. Porting characters over will save Elder Scrolls Online players hours of grinding for their gear, remaking all of their cosmetic character customizations and completing questing tasks that they’ve already finished.
Overall, it seems like ZeniMax has made the best out of what was clearly an escalating situation. Typically, online multiplayer games only see releases on Windows and Mac. Mostly, that’s because game developers have a difficult time translating the core gaming experiences to other platforms. For example, most role-playing games include and inventory bag and other management panels. Those panels are incredibly easy for mouse and keyboard users to navigate, customize and fine-tune to their liking. The trouble is none of those methods work well for users navigating with a joystick.
Of course, the other reason games like Elder Scrolls Online don’t often make it to consoles is that users have to pay multiple subscription services for online games on the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One if the game isn’t already free to play. Elder Scrolls Online was going to be the first big MMO title to make it to the next generation consoles. Today, there aren’t very many role-playing games, online focused or otherwise available on the Xbox One and PS4. Elder Scrolls Online’s original release date would have provided role-play game lovers with a reason to pick up a next-generation console. Whether Sony or Microsoft will see sales for the Xbox One or PS4 fall because of the Elder Scrolls Online release date delay remains unclear.
The delay of Elder Scrolls Online is just the latest in a series of setbacks for those who pre-ordered a next generation console. Last fall, Ubisoft announced that it would be delaying Watch Dogs, its open-world adventure game, until this year. The Xbox One’s highly anticipated multiplayer shooter Titanfall was also delayed into this year. Here recently, Bungie’s Destiny shooter game was also delayed. Its beta isn’t slated to begin until sometime this summer now.
It doesn’t appear as if there are technology barriers causing these delays in bringing storied franchises to the PS4 and Xbox One. It seems more likely that game developers simply underestimated the time it would take to get running on the new platforms. Historically, that’s something that happens in the transition between every new console generation.
When Elder Scrolls Online for the Xbox One and PS4 does launch, it’ll cost users $60 if they haven’t taken advantage of these deals.