ROCKVILLE, MD – The MMORPG industry has been shaken to its very core by the news that The Elder Scrolls Online is dropping its monthly subscription, becoming what experts are now calling “buy-to-play”. The unprecedented move without any precedent, apart from any other game that once charged a subscription but now doesn’t, has plunged gamers into a state of confusion. “Let me get this straight” said Ian Gamer on a fictional gaming forum “I have to… ‘buy’ this game… and then I can play it? No, sorry, I’m not following.” Elder Scrolls spokesman Ian Spokesman tried to explain the change in a press release accompanying the news: “So you know free-to-play, yeah? And how it’s, like, free, except where you want to do stuff that isn’t free and you have to pay money but you don’t have to do that so it’s free as in beer not free as in speech, if it was free beer with optional microtransactions and a premium beer option that wasn’t free as in speech or beer or the French forces under De Gaulle. You know that, yeah? Well buy-to-play is like that, but without the option not to pay.”
When The Elder Scrolls Online launched in 2014 the subscription model for MMORPGs was completely normal, every single other MMORPG requiring the purchase of a box then payment of a monthly subscription except for 99.487% of them; nobody in the industry was at all surprised or commented on the monthly fee at all. Not even the most radical of soothsayers could have predicted that the subscription would be a sort of additional “enthusiasm tax”, making the most out of keen early adopters before dropping the requirement for regular payment once players numbers had slumped after launch as had happened with almost every MMORPG launched in the ten years since WoW. The occasional dissenting voice, who didn’t really exist because there weren’t any but just imagine if there had been, was silenced by the cast iron logic that even if some other MMORPGs had struggled to retain players, which they hadn’t, then a really big franchise with a rock solid history of single player games was a guaranteed sure fire hit when MMOGified, and nobody could think of a single instance of well-regarded single player RPGs set far back in the history of a colossal interstellar franchise that had spawned a MMORPG that had been a perfectly good game but just not retained the sort of subscriber numbers required as a counterexample.
Unable to cope with the radical new gaming landscape that has resulted, several MMORPG industry experts have vowed to move into safer areas of commentary such as the continuing non-Catholicism of the Pope, and absence of bear excrement from wooded areas.