‘The Elder Scrolls Online’: Did It Need To Be A Skyrim Sequel?

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"The Elder Scrolls Online" is an affront to everything the series has spent 20 years building. An MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) with the "Elder Scrolls" moniker?

This is madness!

Sure. That is, if you believe the ‘Elder Scrolls’ purists, who insist that the new game would be acceptable if the "Elder Scrolls" name wasn’t slapped on it. As it is, they see it as not a real "Elders Scrolls" game.

But that belief is actually rather ignorant. "The Elder Scrolls Online" isn’t the first spinoff in the series.

Yes, it is true that the past "Elder Scrolls" game, ‘‘Skyrim,” set the bar for all subsequent games. Its predecessor, "Oblivion," set the standard in its time as well, but between ‘‘Oblivion” and ‘‘Skyrim,” publisher Bethesda Softworks also released a few mobile title in the series.

The latest one was "The Elder Scrolls Travels: Oblivion," released in 2006 as a companion game to the full-scale "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion." The mobile game was released on some mobile phones and the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage, following its predecessors, "Stormhold" and "Dawnstar" - The "Travels" series has been a departure from traditional "Elder Scrolls" games for a while now.

And, if you’d like to press the “nontraditional” argument, that "Elder Scrolls" isn’t something that belongs as an MMORPG or produced on phones, consider another series heavyweight: "Final Fantasy." Square, the series’ publisher, has shown multiple times that spinoffs and branch games can be very successful: "Final Fantasy XIII-2" (3.5 million sales), "Final Fantasy Tactics" (6+ million total series sales), and "Final Fantasy X-2" (5.3 million sales) all did well.

Things change quickly in any tech industry, especially when profits are involved. Is it so strange that Bethesda would want to release an MMORPG set in the ‘Elder Scrolls’ universe? Many of the most successful franchises have tie-ins (have you seen the list of "Star Wars" game lately? "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is quite a successful MMORPG), and this style of game is a new path for Bethesda to explore.

“This will be The Elder Scrolls from now on! I don’t like this!”

You’re certainly allowed to not like the concept, or the game itself. But you’re also missing something - the name: "The Elder Scrolls Online." Lest I repeat my earlier point about the mobile titles, I invite you to glance at the last “real” ‘Elder Scrolls’ title: "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim." All of the main entries in the series are numbered, and the new Online title isn’t.

So relax. It’s not taking over the "Elder Scrolls" line, it’s just a branch title.

“Bethesda is wasting time on this! They could be making 'Elder Scrolls VI/Fallout 4'!”

You think they’re not? Bethesda has their own teams working on major titles like those. They sourced the development of "Online" out to ZeniMax Online Studios, who specialize in MMOs. Bethesda’s internal studio has always handled the main game installments.

If you don’t like "The Elder Scrolls Online," that’s okay - you don’t have to buy it. If the venture fails from lack of sales, that’ll be the end of the line.

Historically, main installments in the "Elder Scrolls" series hit the market every four or five years. ‘Skyrim’ was released in 2011, so we’re on track for the sequel.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet.

 

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