Interview – How Elder Scrolls Online is becoming Stadia’s first streaming MMO

Google’s Stadia continues to grow, albeit at a fairly lackadaisical pace, but as the month’s tick by, more and more well known games join the burgeoning streaming system. PUBGs addition proved that Stadia was more than capable of cross-platform play, and that it had the ability to present an online experience with confidence.

Today, on June 16th, the next step for Stadia comes in the shape of Elder Scrolls Online, Zenimax’s beloved MMO set in Bethesda’s incredible fantasy world. We caught up with Eric Buhlman, the ESO Stadia Project Manager, and Game Director Matt Firor to talk about bringing their immense MMO to Google Stadia.

TSA: What attracted Zenimax to bring The Elder Scrolls Online to Google Stadia? And why now?

Eric: We’re always looking to make ESO more available and accessible to players and Stadia helps us do that – players can get into the game faster and easier than ever before, because there’s no patching or waiting for updates, and they can play from almost anywhere. The amount of players choosing to stream games will continue to grow and it’s important to us to make sure ESO is available wherever our players are.

TSA: Are there opportunities that the Stadia platform brings that you can’t find elsewhere?

Eric: Giving players choices and letting them play how they want is one of ESO’s core pillars. Stadia helps us expand on this by giving players even more choices with a myriad of supported devices. Reduced hardware requirements and ESO being available with Stadia Pro means there’s never been a better time for new players. For our existing players, our PC cross-play integration will give more ways to play as well.

TSA: Do you think it could change what we can expect from MMOs?

Eric: As streaming changes the limitations studios have to build towards, games are bound to evolve. Having a massive multiplayer game experience in your pocket at all times means more potential for social interaction. Fewer hardware restrictions mean potential for more immersive worlds on less powerful devices.

TSA: Is there anything unique about the Stadia version of ESO?

Eric: ESO has been around for many years and has a huge player base, so it’s important that we’re consistent with the game across all platforms. The fact that we’re now able to offer the ESO experience on phones and tablets is especially exciting to us. Our integration really shows off Stadia’s ability to make such a large and technically complex MMO portable.

TSA: With those years of content out there, how easy is it coming into Elder Scrolls Online as a newcomer?

Matt: ESO has a unique content model, where every year we launch a new Chapter, which includes a tutorial and a new story and area of Tamriel to explore. Because ESO is not traditionally level-based, players are free to explore the world at their own pace and can explore anywhere they want right from the beginning. So, tying those two things together, it is always a great time for new players to join ESO, as they can enjoy the newest content right alongside veteran players. ESO’s new chapter, Greymoor, will be available in the Stadia store for our June 16th launch.

TSA: What do you think the strengths of the Elder Scrolls series are, and how does ESO embody them?

Matt: The hallmark of the Elder Scrolls series is a massive world to explore, full of interesting stories and the ability for a player to experience the world at their own pace. ESO takes advantage of this freedom: you can build the character you want by mixing skills, armor and weapons (none of which are class-restricted), being able to explore the entire world from the beginning of your journey, and of course experiencing memorable stories and interesting characters.

TSA: Will there be cross-play between all the other versions of ESO?

Eric: ESO’s cross-play integration with Stadia will allow players to switch between PC/Mac, Steam, and Stadia while maintaining access to characters, progression, and purchases. Stadia players will play on our PC servers alongside all of our PC platforms. There aren’t any current plans for Stadia cross-play with console platforms.

TSA: What’s next on the roadmap for ESO? And can Stadia owners get involved straight away?

Matt: ESO has quarterly content updates, which means there is always new content and other updates just about every 12 weeks. Because ESO Stadia runs on the PC servers, Stadia gamers have access to everything that has launched on ESO in the last six years, as well as instant access to all new content as soon as the PC service receives them.

Thanks to Eric and Matt for answering our questions. Elder Scrolls Online launches for Google Stadia today, on16th June 2020, with Stadia Pro subscribers having access to the base game for free.

Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.