Tamriel Infinium: Are Elder Scrolls Online’s events too much of a good thing?

    
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TI Header (Festivals)

The Elder Scrolls Online players are suffering an embarrassment of riches at the moment. The 25th anniversary of the Elder Scrolls franchise coincides almost directly with the 5th anniversary of the MMO, and to celebrate, ZeniMax is running an anniversary extravaganza that lasts five whole weeks. But is more always better, or does the pull to keep players logging in lead to unintended adverse effects?

Back in January of 2017, ZeniMax devs announced that they would be dropping four major updates in the year to come: a quality-of-life update (Homestead), a chapter release, a dungeon DLC, and a smaller content release. Considering the release cadence of other MMOs, I thought this sounded like a wishful goal. But to its credit, ZeniMax has been able to deliver a constant stream of quality content over the last two and a half years. The result has been a steady uptick in server population and an ever-growing number of things to do.

Following the “more is better” logic, ESO also celebrates the anniversaries of major zones launches. For example, on the anniversary of the Orsinium DLC release, players can earn extra loot for completing dailies in the region. Same for Clockwork City, Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, Imperial City, Morrowind, and perhaps others that don’t spring immediately to mind. These events typically last a week or so.

In addition to the regular content releases and the annual celebration of these zones, ESO has a holiday celebration events that include the New Life Festival (usually around the end of the year), the Witches Festival (Halloween/harvest timeframe), the Jesters Festival (April Fools week), Mid-Year Mayhem (mid year, or whenever they feel like it), the Undaunted Celebration (unclear), and the overall Anniversary Festival for the game, itself (April).

More is better, right? The content releases, celebrations, and events keep us logging in and gives us a variety of things to do. But it wasn’t enough. In April of 2018, ESO announced daily login rewards. Now ESO players had even more reason to log into the game every single day to pick up a free potion or experience scroll.

But all of these things – login rewards, festivals, celebrations – they’re all just icing on the cake, right? Players who are more interested in the “core game” can ignore them and play through the story, dungeon and PvP content to your heart’s content.

Well, technically, yes. Unless you’re the type of player who wants to collect everything or who really likes fancy mounts. That’s because in October of last year, ZeniMax gave us even more reason to participate in the event festivities. Starting with the 2018 Witches Festival, players could spend event tickets (earned during every holiday event or celebration) on one of four feathers (one feather appearing at each event) and eventually combine said feathers to summon a majestic Indrik mount. This system was later expanded to include berries that when fed to the basic Indrik mount would evolve it into a more splendorous variety.

I have neither the motivation nor the understanding to fully explain the Indrik evolution system, but suffice it to say that with the many revolving species of Indrik available, players now have a motivation to participate in every single event. Players who used to feel free to skip events were now more compelled to, at the very least, participate at the minimum level to earn a ticket or two.

ESO Events Timeline

To illustrate just how many events we’ve played through since the inception of the Indrik chase, I learned how to make a timeline in Microsoft Word. Do you like it? Don’t answer that. Running some rough calculations reveals from October 2018 through the middle of May 2019, I found ESO will have run events for about 21 weeks of that time.  By contrast, there have been only 11 weeks without an event of some kind. These numbers do not take into consideration that both the Wrathstone dungeon DLC and the Elsweyr prologue questline have also been released during this time period.

That’s a lot of content in just a few months! While I do realize that much of the festival driven content is recycled from year to year, ESO does like to add slight updates to the events to keep them fresh. For example, this year’s Jester’s Festival included consumable pie-throwing and associated new achievements. This year, the Indrik chase itself provides a new angle to these tried and true favorites.

But there are drawbacks to providing this much login incentive. Many MMO players pride themselves on being completionists. They collect motifs, mementos, achievements and skins. They complete every quest and explore every zone. They can’t pass up an opportunity to log in and try to accumulate whatever is available at the moment. This mentality is partially what attracts people to MMOs in the first place, but it’s not always compatible with “more is better.” The accumulation has to be reasonably obtainable, else a feeling of hopelessness and burnout can soon follow. I’ve heard some of the biggest cheerleaders within the community complain about the sheer number of events we’ve seen recently. The “I can’t even” is real. Some players have only one or two hours of playtime each day, which can easily be absorbed in the daily grind of the festival activities. Players can be left wondering if they’ll have time to actually play the game – that is, to experience the story, dungeons, or PvP.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for a return to a two-year expansion cycle, nor to the time when events were exactly the same year after year. I happen to think that ESO is doing the right thing with regard to a content release cycle, and I do enjoy special events, especially when they’re accompanied by an experience boost.

But it does give me pause when I hear members of my guild dreading yet another event that will distract them from their self-imposed goals.

I’m also impressed by the idea to tie several events together by creating a goal that requires participation in several celebrations per year. It fits nicely with the longer story arc Zenimax is attempting with their “year of the dragon” content releases. But the complexity involved in the Indrik evolution leaves something to be desired. People who don’t play the game regularly will surely be confused by the tickets-to-feathers-to-berries conversion rates as well as the presence or absence of certain types of berries at the event vendors. New players who start playing the game in the middle of the event season will also be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to collecting these types of mounts. It’s a good concept, but the execution could use some polish.

It’s conceivable that this year is an anomaly. The fact that the 25-year anniversary of The Elder Scrolls coincided with the five-year anniversary of ESO may have been the perfect storm that set the current aggressive schedule of events in motion. If not, the playerbase may need to start being more selective about its daily activities because as anybody who’s ever been to a soft-serve ice cream buffet will tell you, it is possible to have too much of a good thing!

Traverse the troubled land of Tamriel in the Elder Scrolls Online! Larry Everett and Ben Griggs will be your guides here in Tamriel Infinium on Wednesdays as we explore together the world created by ZeniMax and Bethesda in one of the biggest MMOs in the genre. Larry and Ben welcome questions and topic ideas!
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Lasse Vågsæther Karlsen

There’s always going to be people that complain.

Some people complain that the game doesn’t have enough content.
Some people complain that it has TOO MUCH content.
Then some people complain that not enough content IS BEING ADDED.
Then some people complain that too much content is being added ALL THE TIME.
Some people complain that the items added in the latest patch has the wrong shade of green.
Some people complain just because they’re miserable, and that’s all they got going for them.

You’re no different, except that I see where you’re coming from. You’re just asking a question, right? You’re not complaining, a question isn’t the same as complaining, right?

Right.

So … what if … Bethesda/Zenimax didn’t release all this content. Would you be the guy that posted an article asking why? Because I can guarantee there would be someone who did.

There is no hope satisfying everyone, all the time. Someone is ALWAYS going to find an angle where they can be miserable.

All I can say is this… Is everything all right? Do you need a hug?

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BaranthusTV

Hardly. There are more players than ever before, the game is content-rich and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If too much of a good thing is fun events that have 0 impact on the more serious type of gamer, then it seems that no one told the players.
I think alongside the continuing events and regular content updates, is the way the devs try things to keep gameplay and mechanics fresh. While many people scream “NERF HAMMER” the truth is that they soon adapt to any changes and carry on.
Theres a lot of life in ESO and the continuing events are a pleasant aside – there’s no obligation to even take part, nevermind complete them.

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Toy Clown

Yeah, definitely. I’d just come off of BDO’s 5-week anniversary event burnt-out to the point I didn’t finish the last week and jumped right into ESO’s 5-week anniversary event to not log in after the first week.

When I feel burned-out, the last thing I want to deal with is people, so I fell into doing the crafting writs the first week, tried the delve/overland bosses the next week and gave it up after the first onslaught dealing with inconsiderate players. Sadly, I’ve lost patience with these types of players and it pushed me over the burned-out phase into not logging in at all.

I do have plans to log in the last week when crafting writs are up again, then using all the cash I’ve earned from writs to buy any motifs I’m missing for cheap. That’s the one good thing about the long-arse event: Cheaaaap motifs!

But then I’m shutting down my sub to ESO and taking them off my news feed for a bit. I don’t even want to play the expansion at this point. Just going to dive head-long into FFXIV’s expansion for a while before I come back to ESO.

In summation: Yes, 5-week events are too much for me. It’s weird how MMO developers have pretty consistently depended on tedium and monotony as “fun” gameplay features.

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snacky

I am getting burned out with some many consecutive events. I have adopted a view that, in this regard, less is more.

Are You Feeling Event Fatigue?

https://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/469302/are-you-feeling-event-fatigue

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socontrariwise

I was a happy player of ESO (plus aka subscription) for a quite while, bought Summerwind too. But they have added in the last few month so many ridiculous grind-fests they call “events” and deliberately make these so that people spend money (buy the zone access to do the whole event span/quests, can only hold 12 tickets at a time but one mount needs 80 and the berries to advance the mount are time limited so either you take the mount B during the anniversary or you are screwed if you don’t want or can spend the time grinding for C or D later in the year – or you buy the tickets for real life money of course) that I just got fed up. Or how about the “make a gift of x RMT currency worth to someone to get this pet ‘FOR FREE'” bull… for Valentines Day?
Never seen a game company that so quickly goes from high regard in my eyes to pretty much despised within month for the “let’s wring more money out of everyone”. But we’ve seen what Bethesda has done with Fallout for money, someone sure seems in power and keen to squeeze ever cent out of the products right now.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

There are various MMORPG player archetypes, and while we may cross and mix and it might not be perfect, one of the listed types is normally “completionist”.

Since I’m not a completionist, I don’t really care how many events are being run. There can’t be too many. In fact I like it when we have to pick and choose and don’t get access to everything.

I don’t think there can ever be too much to do, yet I do recognize the completionist play style and don’t feel it’s right for me to try to tell them to change or get over it and relax (as much as I would like to tell them that :P). In fact when I didn’t make it in time to the event to get a free house worth over $100 in the Summerset event by literally one single day, I was pretty bummed. If that is how they are always feeling when they are not able to complete everything, I’d feel pretty bad for them.

There is something to be said for being able to do everything in a game, but that’s mostly for single player games. In MMORPGs we have to be used to events that come and go and not being able to complete everything. I don’t really think that ESO was made with completionists in mind when it was first created, though since One Tamriel a lot did change there.

Most events come back (are there any that don’t?), even if they are a year or so away, and most limited time sale items return as well for brief periods. So in time the completionist may be able to do everything, just they may have to pick to do some of the stuff later on.

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Alex Willis

Sorry, I needed to check this twice. We are complaining because ESO has too much to do? Too many events? Is too generous.

First World MMO Problems, apparently.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

No, it’s not too much. I like that ESO is generous. I’m tired of stingy games that make you grind all the time for everything. I have a lot of alts and I like that I can level them up quickly with all the xp bonuses. Actually, the other stuff I don’t care about. I’ve never been a mount collector. ESO is the perfect game for casual older players with not a lot of time. But it still offers challenge in the high end content and pvp for those who want to put the time in.

laelgon
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laelgon

I like in-game events, but this one just emphasizes creating an army of alts. Every character can do the dailies that have a chance to give the cosmetic rewards. That means if you’re someone who only plays one or two characters you have a much lower chance of getting the awards than someone who has 10 different characters. And it isn’t as simple as just creating an alt during the event, because the activities have level requirements. Basically, if you want the best chance at the rewards, you need to prep ahead of time with an army of alts, unlock the activities, and clear your calendar so that you can spend as much time possible grinding. That’s not FUN, that’s a job.

I’ve always thought in-game event rewards should be light fluff that are easy to unlock. Not a month long process that requires daily logins and shifting checklists.

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Darthbawl

After getting my base Nascent Indrik I have no desire to keep grinding out tickets to evolve it. I do welcome the number of events they have in the game.