I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed opinions about The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind in the week since Patch 3.0 launched on PC/Mac, leading many players who are still on the fence about purchasing the new Chapter to ask: should I buy it? Should I cancel my pre-order? Is it worth $40?
Is Morrowind Worth $40?
The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to definitively say for certain, one way or another, whether Morrowind, or any new content release for any game, for that matter, is “worth it”. The way you value something is an entirely subjective and personal matter – what feels “worth $40” to you is going to differ significantly from what someone else may feel is “worth $40”. But what you can do is try to make fair, apples-to-apples comparisons: if X costs $40, and Y costs $40, how do X and Y compare to one another?
I’ve been seeing a lot of players attempting to do just that in the past few days, drawing comparisons between Morrowind and other “$40” Expansion Packs for other major AAA MMORPGs, most notably World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy: XIV. And while I can appreciate the effort to compare the two, there’s just one big problem: those aren’t apple-to-apples comparisons.
In other MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, when the developers release a new $40 Expansion Pack, that expansion comes with, usually, an entirely new continent, filled with multiple zones to explore and quests to complete, and that content is expected to act as core content for the game for the next two-plus years. The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind is not an Expansion Pack designed to be the content for the next two years – it’s designed to last for the next three-to-four months. There was never any intention of Morrowind being the new core content for multiple years – it’s a glorified, super-sized DLC Pack, with new game modes and a new class and Trial, significantly larger than any other DLC ESO has ever seen – but still not even close to the size of a true Expansion.
But, then, why were both Morrowind and Warlords of Draenor priced at $40? The answer to that question is actually quite simple: it’s all in the business model.
When a player picked up World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor in November 2014, the expectation was that that content would largely satisfy them, along with 3 or 4 incremental patches every 6-8 months (each releasing a few new quests and sometimes a new PvE Raid), for about two years. And for the most part, it did – Legion launched in August of 2016, marking the end of the Draenor era. But in order to play for that entire two-year period, and enjoy all of that content, that player is expected to pay a mandatory monthly subscription fee of $15/month. Over the course of 21 months of play, that’s $315 – plus your $40 Expansion Pack.
Over that same time period, The Elder Scrolls Online will release two Q1 Content DLCs (roughly $20 each), two Q2 Chapters ($40 each), two Q3 Dungeon DLCs (about $10 a piece), and two Q4 Content DLCs (again, $20 each) – and players only need to purchase the ones that they want to play, and can ignore those that don’t interest them, without having to pay a cent more for any sort of subscription. Add those costs up, and even if you buy every single DLC/Chapter for two years, you can still expect to only end up paying about $180 – half of what you’ll pay in WoW or FFXIV.
I won’t sit here and try to convince you to purchase Morrowind if it doesn’t interest you, or tell you that the Chapter is perfect in every way – it isn’t – but I’d caution anyone basing their decision purely on price to weigh their options and, at the very least, make accurate comparisons.