Players Upset Over The Elder Scrolls Online's Subscription System

Players Upset Over The Elder Scrolls Online's Subscription System

Like most subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games, The Elder Scrolls Online includes 30-day free game time with purchase, but in order to access that 30 free days, one first has to set up a subscription and that's got some of the game's players in an uproar.

Tomorrow night at 10PM AEST, players who have purchased The Elder Scrolls Online but have yet to set up a recurring subscription or entered a game time code will no longer have access to the game.

The issue with most players making their objections heard in the Elder Scrolls Online forums over the past couple of days isn't the subscription itself -- the minimum $US14.99 monthly fee comes as no surprise. What is surprising is that Zenimax Online is pre-authorizing users' credit and debit cards the full $US14.99 (or more) fee.

Being a pre-authorisation, the charge briefly appears as a pending item with most North American banks, and won't be counted towards overdraft problems.

To many this is not a big deal. To others, it's a major inconvenience, as one forum-goer explains.

So basically, because I only have about $US12 in my bank (I'm between paydays), I'm not going to be able to play the game I ALREADY PAID FOR until next week when I have enough to cover the authorization?

What kind of nonsense is this!?

Players without credit or debit cards who were planning to pick up prepaid game time cards are running into problems as well, as the cards are not widely available at retail at this point in time. Without some form of electronic payment or a game time card in-hand, they will be out of luck come tomorrow morning.

Zenimax Online is at least working to help players with insufficient funds or those unable to locate time cards stay in the game, according to an update on the official post regarding the pre-authorisation issue.

We want everyone who purchased ESO to have immediate access to the included 30 days ofESO game time. In the event that you enter your payment information for authorization and the transaction cancels due to lack of funds in your account, please contact our Support Team. We'll work with you to ensure you have access to your included 30 days of game time.

It's a strange situation, to be sure. I've been playing MMORPGs for fifteen years, and I've had to enter plenty of credit card numbers, but I've never had a company pre-authorise my card the full amount a month before the subscription is supposed to kick in.

I reached out to Zenimax Online for comment on the billing issues, and will update the post should I receive a response. Hopefully they can get a handle on the situation, and The Elder Scrolls Online won't see a substantial drop in players come tomorrow night.

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Comments

    Found this out when trying to claim my explorer bonus's.
    Unless the game key was accompanied by a subscription, I couldn't claim my bonus's.

    It's an MMO that has been known to be pay-to-play for well over a year. Either you've just bought a full price game with the intension of only playing it for a calendar month, or you've just found something else to complain about.

    And to the example of the person with $12 in their bank account because they're in between pay days; maybe they have bigger worries than levelling a character in an MMO... like... finances?

      It's not always a matter of only having $12 in your account. I make tons of money so there's always plenty in my account, but occasionally I don't have room in my budget to put $15 aside for something that doesn't actually have to be paid until next month. I'd be pretty pissed if I had to dip into my emergency funds to pay a phone bill just to active a MMO account I only plan on playing during the 30 days I'd already paid for.
      I'd also imagine people who are married and have kids, or just have a lot of bills, struggle to justify spending enough for a retail key alone in one hit. I'm young and single so I can piss my money up the wall, but for them throwing an additional $15 on top of that could tip the balance.

      Not that any of that really matters. The only important thing here is that this has been sprung on buyers after they purchased the retail key. Buyers don't have to justify why $15 matters to them or how this negatively impacts their life. The simple fact is that even if the money is never given to Zenimax Online and it's returned after a certain period this wasn't part of the deal when buying the retail keys.
      If I sold you a hat then out of nowhere took $20 out of your account in case you wanted to buy another you'd be furious, even if I promised to give it back. It wouldn't matter that you could easily afford to go without $20 for a week.

      Last edited 06/04/14 2:40 pm

        I make tons of money

        You don't say... ;) and is there a "Mrs. DogMan", teehee

          Good grief... its $15. If $15 messes up your budget, you really should work on your finances. I don't care how much you make, if $15 messes you up, you have problems and have made some poor decisions somewhere along the way.

            There is a huge difference between "messes up your budget" and having other, better things to pay for. Some people bought the game for art book and statue, and were going to check out the game with 30 day "free" game time, for which they already paid by buying the product (and thus not being technically free). Forcing people to pay for something they may not want, or just don't want to begin with, by denying access to something the customer already paid for, is pathetic on the company's part. Just because I'd much rather go out and pay for a pitcher of beer with my buddies than pay a monthly for a game, I still expect to be provided with the service I already paid for.

            you have problems and have made some poor decisions somewhere along the way.

            Or I budget my money very specifically because I have long term goals to meet. I keep my weekly free spending money slim to ensure that my savings stay on track. Having $15 banished to limbo out of nowhere means I may have to take money that has been allocated to something else and shift it over to pay something important like a phone bill.
            I can just adjust everything to balance out the next week, it's not going to send me broke, but aside from being a pain in the arse to adjust my spreadsheets it's something I just don't like doing. I'm not super disciplined so I don't like being put in the sort of situation where it's easier to bend the rules and just take an extra $15 here and $20 there for things that are meant to be covered by my weekly spending money.

              Dogman, stop giving these people the satisfaction of elaborating on your financial position and budgeting methods. None of that matters in the least because what you said above is absolutely correct- players were NOT aware of the preauthorization before purchasing the game. The whole point is that its WRONG. How much money you have is irrelevant. I'd be rip roaring pissed if someone tried to put a hold on ANY amount of my money for an entire month without my consent (especially in this situation, where their blog/site explicity states that you will not be charged until after your 30 day free period comes to an end. This is apparently just one more thing to get in the way of actually being able to PLAY this outrageously expensive game. I hope I'm not smelling another EA coming down the line.

              I am now officially reluctant to enter my credit card number and finally activate my copy of ESO that has been sitting on my desk for well over a month. The only reason I am feeling inclined to do so today is to ensure I qualify for the Xbox One console transfer they are offering (never would have bought the PC version if it werent for that).

              On a side note, does anyone here know if the subscription fee I will be paying for the PC version will also cover playtime on the xbox one if i use my same login? Or will i have to pay yet ANOTHER separate subscription to be able to go back and forth and play on both platforms (not to mention the $10 Xbox Live fee as well)? If that IS the case, I would be required to pay a total of $40/month to play a game I already payed out the ass for (another stupidity, as it is now selling for $29.99 brand new from Amazon and several local retailers).

            With an attitude like that, are you sure you don't work for the company?

            15 a month for a console game is ridiculous, I don't care if it's an MMO if it's on the console you should just pay for the game disc itself, why have to pay $15 more a month that's an extra $180 a year you could be using on other games and what not. This is definitely gonna drop the sales.

          There is prob. another Mr. Dogman, If you know what I sayin

        Man you a broke ass fool how u only got 12 dollars in da bank. Mcdonalds or Walmart must not be paying you very well these days....but I do think its redonk that we have to pay a fee on top of live...js

      So basically, because I only have about $US12 in my bank...

      I agree that spending $50+ on an MMO that has a $15/mth subscription when you'll only have $12 left over is probably cutting things a bit fine.

      Last edited 06/04/14 7:31 pm

        Perhaps they are like me, I get paid, pay bills leave enough for something fun and throw the rest of it into savings. Perhaps they don't want to take $15 out of their savings for a pay cycle just to use the Game time the game comes with.

        Also WoW doesn't do this, and when your biggest competitor doesn't do something like this than perhaps neither should you.

        Last edited 07/04/14 10:59 am

        Nice job editing and changing your comment completely to get me downvoted.

          Maybe you're being downvoted because you made bad life choices and are cursing and calling other people out because of it, and we all see it. U mad because I can afford a video game? I've been playing ES since Arena, so I haven't lived with my "mum" for about 20 years.

      I think pre-authorization of credit cards and it's rarity in MMOs is the point; not the fact that you have to pay in general, which even the comment above references.

      Agreed! 12 bucks? Figure it out bud!

      It doesn't matter if they announced it was pay-to-play the day after Jesus' birth, the point is that I've already paid for 30 days. Maybe I won't play longer than 30 days. Maybe it will be way too boring or repetitive or too poorly programmed to play.

      And it doesn't matter whether the person has only 12$ left. They bought a game and are not receiving what was promised on the box.

    Hmmm while I do want to initially say 'that's a terrible idea' I can see how that would be beneficial in curbing spammers etc in the game. All up if you're intending to play, I guess it's not the companies responsibility to ensure you have the money on hand, BUT they should still allow you to play your 30 days without entering those details...

    BUT that opens up the issue of spammers...

    Ugh its such a razor edge issue.

      It's done nothing at all to slow down spammers, they have taken over every zone chat. It's a stupid move to pull when they are trying to establish an ongoing relationship with someone's wallet.

        Ugh wonderful. Another friggin MMO with 'PAY TEN DOLLARS AND GET UNLIMITED MONEY' eh? I hate those guys :(

          Go home, you're drunk..

    Pretty silly for people to be in an uproar about this when WoW has been doing it for yonks.

      WoW didn't take 15 from your account before you could use your pre-allocated time.

        pre-auth =/= "taking". It's more of a problem for people with debit cards, because those funds are locked until auth is finished.

          It's held in limbo without your ability to use it, I have a credit card with some money currently 'pre-authorised' with an inability to access that amount, though it hasn't exactly transferred to their account yet, I still can't access that amount so for all intents and purposes, unless I contact them and ask them to reverse it, it's 'gone'. You're kind of splitting hairs here.

          Last edited 06/04/14 10:57 am

            Nevermind how long it takes to release varies between the issuers and even then its a bit random...

        Incorrect, you still need to have an active billing account even when you first load a new account. Next.

    They deserve it for paying for the game in the first place. Is anyone surprised by this at all?

    Breaking news: MMO with subscriptions charges people for said subscriptions!

      They aren't upset about the subscription they're upset about being hit before they can use their free time.

      Imagine if you had to pre-purchase your desert before you could order a main at a Restaurant, people would be walking out in droves.

      It's not the cost it's the timing.

    It's not so bad, but just surprising.

    The reason it's even an issues is because it was unexpected and frustrating for those on low income who have budgeted what they expected to have to pay for their first month.

    On the plus side I'm really, REALLY glad Zenimax are taking this seriously enough to allow players to contact support and organise something. The game is good, and all the experiences I've heard about customer support has been positive.

    http://static.ericnagel.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/cash-cow.jpg

    This is out and out extortion and should be addressed.
    You have purchased a game which includes 30 days of play time and then Zenimax is demanding that you give or at least temporarily offer more money before you are allowed to use the product that you have already payed to play.

      Can you provide legal evidence this is extortion?

      *sits back, this'll be fun...*

        >Can you provide legal evidence this is extortion?

        I assume you are trolling or simply do not know what extortion means.
        However to be clear, extortion is where you offer something (or nothing) with the intention of refusing to honor the offer unless you get more than the initial agreement. In this case, Zenimax is allowing you to purchase a game that includes free play time and then refusing to honor that free play time without some form of paid for subscription and that is what I am referring to as extortion.
        I have no doubt that their legal team have gone over these details with a fine tooth come to ensure that it is all technically legal even if it is not in the spirit of the transaction actually legal.
        I am also sure that if you are not trolling that you already know this.

        Was that fun for you o.O

    FFXIV did this exact same pre-authorisation thing.
    This isn't new, however it is hardly ideal for a launch..

    I don't play MMOs but didn't WOW have pre-paid cards you could buy in the store rather than credi card payments?

      TESO does too, but the issue is that you need to use either one of those pre-paid cards or pre-authorise* a credit/debit card before you can use your 'free' 30 days that come with a retail key. Apparently a lot of users didn't realise that and those pre-paid cards are a little hard to get hold of right now, so a large group of people planning on using pre-paid cards are effectively locked out of the game. It sounds pretty minor, just use a credit card for now and cancel the subscription before the first month kicks in, but a lot of those people are in non-negotiable situations.
      You effectively have to pay for the 30 days that comes with the retail key and then wait for a refund on it. They're not the first MMO to do this and they won't be the last, but it's still worth complaining about just to get the message across that if you want to do things this way you need to ensure that players know about it ahead of time.

      In non-MMO terms imagine buying a game that has planned DLC a month after launch, and then finding out that in order to play the game you need to prove you can afford to buy the right now by giving the bank enough money to pay for the DLC, even if you don't plan on buying the DLC. The bank will give you the money back soon and you can choose to buy the DLC or not, so in the long term it works out even, but in the short term they're forcing you to pay for something extra they're not even giving you.
      It's a bit more complicated than that, and they have some good reasons for doing it, but they failed to make it clear this was how it was going to work which left a lot of players in a tough position.

      *From the buyers perspective it's more or less the same as being charged the full amount, but the money sort of goes into limbo instead of over to Zenimax Online's account. It's actually a really useful function of credit/debit cards when used properly.

        People don't mention is that this money doesn't really go into "limbo". it's being held by Zenimax's processing company. even though the money is said to be in your bank account on hold, it is not actually there. their company is holding on to it and actually making money off of it in the short term. that's why these little transactions are cutting the edge legality. if you hold onto money that is not used or paid towards a service not yet rendered, you become a holding company. holding companies make huge $$ off of daily transaction balance adjustments.

    credit cards for various things have been doing this for years, with pre-orders, game subs and lot of other things. the complaint squad for this game really are going over time to hate on this game. Hate in 2014 is just a tiresome thing. This is just yet another example.

      Agreed, it's almost become 'cool' to hate on this game. I don't care what people think, I am looking forward to this game coming out on Ps4 even if myself and my one mate I managed to convince are the only ones left playing it :-)

      The people who are complaining about this purchased the game, they are the least likely to hate it. But the idea of making you pay (even temporarily) to use your included 30 days seems stupid.

      And for the record I don't hate this game, I tried the Beta and I didn't enjoy it. But that's just me, others do and they are welcome to that choice.

      Historically CC authorisations use a 0.99c allocation, not a full month's sub :)

        Hackers also use the 99c auth to check if stolen CC numbers are valid. So much so that legit businesses no longer do that and all 99c authorisations are now seen and IDed as potential fraudulent activity and can lock down the credit card depending on the institution.

          That is something I didn't know. Interesting, thanks. I'm curious as to how blizzard does their billing now then, because it use ping a one time 99c charge of the cc then just charged the card on the subject renewal date

    The first of what I predict will be many problems with Elder Scrolls Online. This won't be the end of the issues, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if more issues arose involving the subscription system alone. I know there's people who have chosen not to play the game because of the price, myself included-15 per month plus 60 just to buy the damn game in the first place is too steep.

    Needing to enter your card number at the time you start your 30 free days, and in most cases getting a preauth (which falls off after a week) is par for the course.

    Anyone would think these people have never played an MMO before.

    Really? I didn't have a problem. Got a 6 month sub and it didn't affect my bank balance at all. I do use Paypal so maybe its a not affected. Been enjoying the hell out of this game though.

    Kotaku, as usual wrote this article on hearsay, not fact.
    ESO Player here, got the sub selection pop up on the launcher, took me to the account page, asked me to enter my subscription type I'd be using, a payment method and then explicit told me I wouldn't be charged til I run out of game time.
    Even the pop up was worded to point out that the payment method wouldn't be charged until necessary.

      could this really be the first time in history that a company does something different than stated or is it people just spreading lies?

      for a fine tooth argument about semantics, they aren't technically "charging" you for anything yet, but they are temporarily verifying your account balance and ability to pay for future services. this may pop up on your account as a processing transaction, in which may temporarily affect your available balance.

    Please, please keep following the discussion. There has been no official word from ZO since the "well, if you don't have a payment method to bounce first, we can't help you" no news on gamecards, I personally have been waiting since 8:20 am EST 4.4.14 for a response to a support ticket to return the game for a refund, got a reply 6:20 am 4.6.14 telling me how to get around the re-install bug people are having, and the ticket was moved to resolved. This is ridiculous, now there are queues (which are paused!) to login to your account management on the website and set up your subscription payment.

    There are people who've set up their subs and still get bad account info errors.

    The FPS for plenty of people (I know random seeming, or intermittant errors are hard to track but tell us what is going on! tell us how it's nbeing addressed! talk to us!) is capping around 20-30 on systems that ran Skyrim on ultra-high.

    This game was not tested thoroughly and was not prepared for a launch, in my opinion. ZO as a company obviously did not hire enough support staff, or schedule them correctly, to deal with a friday launch.

    The most amusing thing about this whole issue is how far it has been blown out of proportion. In general these authorisation amounts are refunded within a few days and are simply used to ensure that the credit card information you are entering is not fraudulent. There are MMO's that have used this in the past, though as lf1mtank mentioned it is usually not the full amount.

    I actually posted on the thread my opinions of the situation, and I actually tend to side with those who are complaining not about the issue, but that people are making it that big of an issue. I just think the whole thing is being blown waaaaaaaaay out of proportion.

      It's more a problem of principle. People should complain if they think it's not right, and they don't want it to happen again. :-)
      Aside from the reason already discussed, you paid for a full 30 days of gametime, minus the server maintenance. Which means that if you want to play and made some free time especially for launch, and are locked out of the game because of this problem, and have to deal with customer support, you are effectively being robbed of your gametime. (and have to waste time on it to have it fixed). You find yourself robbed and upset :-P

      Luckily, I'm not affected by the problem and I am enjoying the game, but MMO players being borderline addicts (myself included), you can see how this can literally explode out of proportion :-D

      Last edited 07/04/14 5:58 am

        For me it is more about the principle of the whole situation. I dont play many MMO's but am a fan of the Elder Scrolls and ordered what I thought was a 30 day credit to play the game. That may be all I ever want to play of this game.

        I have many credit cards but resent having to fork over my payment information and resent even more the onus being placed on me to cancel my subscription before I am billed again. Why do I need to subscribe at all ... If I like the game then I can choose to pay more for it after my pre-paid 30 days are over. There is absolutely no reason they need to verify my ability to pay ... I have already payed and expect my game access to be suspended in 30 days if I do not subscribe again.

      I agree and think this has been blown out of proportion to be honest. The geek community just needs something to thump it's chest about even though the people who actually are impacted would be pretty freakin' minor.

      Whatevs. I have more important things to complain/worry about.

    All you have to do is select paypal as your subscription method and there is no preauthorization, you dont even have to sign into your paypal account. I honestly believe this was probably a mistake on their part rather than a deliberate effort to screw anyone in the first month of their game.

    Yeah I played the Beta and wow I instantly thought this is a crappy World of Warcraft clone. Didn't have really anything much going for the game, and they have the hide to charge a monthly fee to play after charging what $90 to buy the damn game haha, good fucking luck. That's just not worth it. Game is shit. Nothing like Skyrim, not as pretty, and certainly not as good, I was hoping for a multiplayer type Skyrim game, instead they deliver a crappy WOW clone with poxy gfx. As a member of the pc master race, I cannot condone these crappy graphics which seem more suitable on a WiiU or last gen console.

    I played quite a bit of ESO beta, and in no way does it's content justify a subscription. at least not yet.

    while all of you are okay with being milked like cows for a game that should still be in beta testing, i'm off to play guild wars 2 which, if you didn't know, doesn't require monthly fee and has no bug, and is a good game. i have played WoW, guild wars, many other big and small name mmo's, etc.. all the while not being a no life, but this... this is the first time i've seen this, and i complain because i am affected by this. not to blow it out of proportion but because i legitimately can't play the 30 days i should be able to. i was able to try out WoW for 30 free days, same with other games without having to pay again.
    and why should we have to prove we are going to pay again when we already paid for it? what does it's "F"ing matter to them if in one month i won't pay because i will be submerged by work, but that for now i can play? for what reason should i pay again. all you guys who have it easy and are making fun of those who can't play this game in their free time and can't get their money back, you should step down your high horse and consider our side for a bit, you over privileged little kids.
    sorry for being impolite, just saying some people don't deserve to make fun of others. AND believe me, i, contrarily to most people making fun of us, know what i am talking about as someone who has played games ever since PAC man and who works to be able to do what he likes in his free time, play (among other things).
    now let the haters come and try and shoot me down as i stand tall.

    Last edited 07/04/14 9:12 am

    i activated my code this morning... selected the $15p/month option... used paypal... it didn't charge me... it authorized the next payment as far as i can tell... the transaction is showing as cancelled right now but authorized...

    don't see this as a big deal?

    That's what you get for buying this tripe.

    Enh. It's not exactly a war crime, but it is an annoying, inconvenient, pointless decision which is hitting the most rabid enthusiastic fans (the early access pre-orders) right at the precise period of their maximum hype. Whaddya expect?

      Perfect summary of the situation. No need for any further comments.

      It's not hitting just them, but all those who planned on playing the rest of the week end. end point? wanted to play Sunday before going back to work, that's over...
      So great, just another marketing scheme to pump our blood out and fill their pockets.
      accepting this this easily shows how people are used to being followers, sheep, people who will accept anything that happens to them as a "meh it's okay, not a real problem". i wanted to play this game, but seeing a few times along the line how the video game industry is turning into a blood sucking ghoul with the DLC that you have to pay (and which appear ONLY a few months after the release).
      the most funny thing is that you are pushing away the people who understand this as rabid fans, or as crazy, idiots, etc...
      it is sad to see how society has succeeded in making a complacent population out of most of you.
      enjoy leading a life where you are told what to do, how, when and where you listen, without fail, and mock the people who are actually fighting so that companies don't do what they damn please
      PS: this is not an exaggeration. you may think that they aren't doing something bad or harmful, but it's step by steps that you change a system, and they have managed to change it into a system where you let them do whatever the hell they want with your money and personal information.
      If by not paying for this game i contribute in stopping this flood of Pay to play and pay to win disease spreading across the video game industry, then i will gladly not play it, even if it seems good.
      laugh, shoot down, whatever, you have been warned and it is your future enjoyments that are in peril. if you have money to throw away then please continue, if you are more conscious about this, then don't be a sheep.
      Now hope this will make you think a little bit at least about the world and how it does not revolve around "customer service" and "security reasons".
      once again it is not blown out of proportion, we are trying to make an example of this. if we manage to make developers who only wish to milk us fail, then we are progressing towards a world where WE decide what WE want.
      Never forget: they probe to see our reactions, and the more dull a reaction is the more they will progress towards a world where they charge and do what they want with us. the gaming world being a very harsh environment for industries is the perfect place to test out the waters and see how easily people are manipulated. hundreds of millions play video games in the developed worlds, so it is not a small place.

      Now feel free to mock, but know this will mean you just have a very small mind and that you can't see past the tip of your nose.
      good day and good night.

      Last edited 07/04/14 1:53 pm

        See, this kind of post doesn't really help your point about my struck-out rabid jibe. I'm actually pointing out to people that it's a net loss on the morality scale. Pointless implementation, no benefits, only downsides.

        But have a sense of proportion. It's 'hitting them', not torturing them. Some people are getting their accounts tagged with fifteen bucks. OH THE HORROR. Some can't afford that and it's locking them out. This would be a miniscule percentage. It's hardly worth the pages of chain-letter facebook-post-quality hyperbole you're spewing.

        And yes, it's only affecting enthusiastic fans. People who don't give a shit are doing the sensible thing and not playing a brand new MMO on launch. Because anyone who's been around the sun a few times knows that MMOs never launch smooth.

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