Playing The Elder Scrolls Online will require a monthly subscription fee, as confirmed in an interview with Gamestar . "Going with any other model meant that we would have to make sacrifices and changes we weren't willing to make," ZeniMax Studios Game Director Matt Firor stated in the interview, elaborating with a bunch of reasons why he believes TES isn't a good fit for free-to-play.
"The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want," Firor explained. "We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play. The Elder Scrolls Online was designed and developed to be a premium experience: hundreds of hours of gameplay, tons of depth and features, professional customer support - and a commitment to have ongoing content at regular intervals after launch. This type of experience is best paired with a one-time fee per month, as opposed to many smaller payments that would probably add up to more than $14.99/month anyway."
He added that "players will appreciate not having to worry about being 'monetized' in the middle of playing the game, which is definitely a problem that is cropping up more and more in online gaming these days. The fact that the word 'monetized' exists points to the heart of the issue for us: We don't want the player to worry about which parts of the game to pay for - with our system, they get it all."
To "get it all" will require $14.99/€12.99/£8.99, which is about standard for the few MMOs sticking with the subscription model these days, in the face of what must be immense pressure to switch to free-to-play. Star Wars: Tales of the Old Republic, Lord of the Rings Online, Tera, Rift: as PCGamesN note, these have all made the switch to the free-to-play model since development on TESO began.