Bethesda has just announced that The Elder Scrolls Online has received an “M” rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The listing is not yet in the ESRB’s database, but a posting on the game’s official Facebook page indicates the way forward.

While we don’t yet know what factors led to the ESRB determination, Bethesda indicates it will not contest it. “The ESRB advised us that it has given The Elder Scrolls Online a Mature rating,” the Facebook post reads. “While we may disagree with the ESRB’s determination, we do not plan to challenge the rating, and we are unwilling to change the game’s content to achieve a different rating. The game we have created is the one we want our fans to be able to play.“

The Elder Scrolls Online is slated to launch with $60 price tag and $15 monthly subscription fee, bucking contemporary trends toward free to play. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV also carry subscription fees. Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, DC Universe Online, and many others have shifted from a paid model to free-to-play.

Most of the major MMOs are rated “T”, keeping the door open for younger players. World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, Final Fantasy XIV, and DC Universe Online all carry that rating. Funcom’s The Secret World is one of the few bigger titles that is recommended for mature audiences. The last two single-player games in the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion and Skyrim, were rated Mature by the ESRB.

The Elder Scrolls Online will be out on PC and Mac on April 4, 2014. Releases on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are also planned. For a recent video showing group combat, check out this morning's coverage.

[Source: The Elder Scrolls Online on Facebook]


Our Take
The Elder Scrolls Online is dealt a blow with this rating. An “M” closes the door on younger players. On top of a $15 monthly subscription, Bethesda is going to have its work cut out attracting, building, and maintaining an audience. Regardless of how good the content is, a subscription MMO in a free-to-play world is a harder sell.