AUG. 18, 2014 • The Elder Scrolls Online, the MMO from Zenimax Online Studios, has spent the last five weeks as the No. 1 PC game in the United Kingdom. According to GfK Chart-Track data, the title debuted at the top rank during the week ending April 5, but three weeks later started to slip down the PC game chart. By the week ending June 21 The Elder Scrolls Online was ranked at No. 5. Starting the week ending July 5 the MMO began moving back up to No. 2, and for the week ending July 19 regained the No. 1 spot, where The Elder Scrolls Online has stayed in the weeks since.
Impact: As Zenimax is a private company and does not routinely release sales numbers it is difficult to clarify what has led to the resurgence in interest in the United Kingdom for The Elder Scrolls Online. The game is not your typical MMO. Effort was made to keep the design attractive to fans of the single-player franchise, as well as add in multiplayer experiences MMO players enjoy. One of the design decisions taken was to make level 1 to 50 content very manageable but post-50 “veteran” content quite a bit more difficult to complete. Zenimax’s goal was to encourage group play in the veteran areas but got player pushback that this content was too difficult to be enjoyable. About the same time as The Elder Scrolls Online began climbing back up the U.K. PC game rankings, Zenimax announced that it was tweaking veteran content to reduce the difficulty and make it more in keeping with what was experienced during the first 50 levels of gameplay. Actively responding to player criticisms within three months can go a long way in boosting positive word-of-mouth. During the same period the MMO became available on Steam for 50% off, which can also increase awareness. Similarly, many physical retailers also dropped the price of The Elder Scrolls Online by 50% in July. For all of these reasons we think the MMO got the leg up it needed to climb back up the charts. Now it is up to Zenimax to hold those users with further content enhancements. As few new MMOs built are around the subscription model, how well The Elder Scrolls Online fares, and where it fares well, is important to understand.