The Elder Scrolls OnlineThe other shoe has finally dropped: The Elder Scrolls Online is going free-to-play. The signs have been around for a while now. First, the six-month subscription option was dropped last December, followed by the boxed sets for the subscription service disappearing from store shelves. Now, at last, Bethesda Softworks has announced that starting in March 2015, the game will be free of subscription fees entirely. Along with the fee structure change comes a new name: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. 

Free doesn’t mean completely free, though. If you want to play the game, you will still need to buy the software itself, but that extra monthly charge on your credit card goes away. Still, you’ll get access to all the upgrades and add-ons to date for free, and that includes the new Champion and Justice systems. New downloadable content (“DLC”) will still be something you have to pay for, but if you want, you can get an “ESO Plus” membership that gives you access to all future DLC. These memberships come in 30-day, 90-day, and 180-day packages. If you let your membership expire, you’ll lose access to the optional areas, but you’ll get to keep whatever booty you found or won while playing in them.

Bethesda still has to make its money, so a paid membership will allow you to level up faster, and provide you with a steady allowance of crowns, the new in-game currency you’ll be able to use to buy things like pets, mounts, and other customization items.

Current TESO subscriptions that extend beyond the changeover will be automatically transitioned to ESO Plus memberships, and TESO players who have previously cancelled their subscriptions can leap back into the subscriptions-free action using their old account info (and will be given 500 complimentary crowns if they do.) Refunds on existing subscriptions will not be offered.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited goes live on March 17, 2015.

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