The Elder Scrolls Online has had a tough life. Despite releasing to good reviews, the fantasy franchise's first MMO failed to gain traction amongst PC gamers, and eventual abandoned its subscription-based roots in favor of a Guild Wars-style "buy once, play forever".
And over two years later, and following a name change, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited seems to have found a home on consoles. Data revealed to Polygon by The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited game director Matt Firor depicts a roughly equal split between players gaming from their Windows PC/Mac, their PS4, or their Xbox One. And as keen mathematicians noticed, that shows a dominance of console over PC - rather unusual for a MMO.
According to Polygon, the removal of the subscription fee in March 2015 also caused a much larger return to the game than any of Zenimax's employees had thought likely. While the game still required an initial purchase to play, so many players returned to the game that its PC population tripled.
The console launch on June 2015 blew their expectations up still further, with enough people attempting to come online on launch day that it took The Elder Scrolls: Tamriel Unlimited's servers down for four hours. While Firor declined to give Polygon specific numbers for the current active player base (recently announced to be around 7 million), he did mention that they had managed to attract almost 500,000 concurrent players at once, a week post-launch. Admittedly, that number included the 200,000 players queuing to enter the game, so that number can be taken to further reflect the sudden boom in popularity.
The latest update for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, One Tamriel came out earlier this month for the PC. It launches today for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and changes the scaling of area mobs to match each player character. This allows any players to challenge any area, and allows players of different strengths to group together for the same experience.
It's easy to hypothesize why consoles dominate PCs in this case. Whereas PC players are spoilt for choice of MMORPGs to play, console players are somewhat more limited in their choice of MMO. Simply put, it's the platform which has the looming shadow of World of Warcraft's giant castle that's not going to do as well as the platforms without.