Elder Scrolls: Oblivion remains one of the biggest and best single-player experiences available on the current generation of consoles. But in a bold step, it seems the next entry into the series could be about to go all World of Warcraft on us, taking the path marked “MMORPG”.
The source for this story? Well it’s a bit convoluted, but here goes. Back in 2007, Zenimax Media, the parent company behind Oblivion developers Bethesda, formed an MMORPG arm called Zenimax Online. They were given access to some $300 million in development funds, but other than the registration of elderscrollsonline.com, all went very quiet.
Until recently that is. If you weren’t already aware, Bethesda also built Fallout 3. They’ve been caught in a legal battle with Interplay, the original owners of the Fallout franchise, for some time now.
Now, according to Fallout fansite Duck and Cover, testimony from an early injunction hearing has revealed that the rumoured Elder Scrolls Online project still seems very much alive, with “close to a hundred people” quietly working away since 2007. According to Duck and Cover, the game looks set to have a four-year development period, putting its release sometime in 2011. Zenimax have since asked for the information to be redacted.
Now it may not give 100% confirmation of the MMO title, but lets add this all up; $300 million dollars, the registered URL, a team of 100 working on a secret project, a massive installed fan base ready to lap it up, the redaction of top-secret info. It’s got to be true, surely? $300 million is a hell of a lot to risk on a brand new intellectual property, and, if not, it’s a licence to print money totally going to waste.
In terms of a final product, this one could swing both ways really. Elder Scrolls games have always succeeded by totally immersing the player in the game world and its lore. The thought of some 12 year old running around and calling me a “noob” while I’m playing wouldn’t exactly be a positive addition to that experience. Let’s not forget the inevitable monthly subscription costs, too. On the other hand, they are massive, great looking games; the perfect setting for some MMORPG exploration.
Fingers crossed that if this proves true (which to be honest, looks incredibly likely) Bethesda pull it off.