Elder Scrolls Online lead says "we're the most prolific AAA game studio" after making an MMO that's "the equivalent of more than 10 single-player games"

Elder Scrolls Online
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Elder Scrolls Online narrative director Bill Slavicsek reckons ZeniMax Online is the most prolific AAA game studio ever after 10 years of updates he reckons are equivalent to 10 single-player games.

I recently caught up with Slavicsek amid ESO's 10th anniversary festivities, and he explained how, right from the beginning of ESO's development, ZeniMax Online was essentially creating creating single-player stories packaged in an MMORPG. "And I think that has helped us craft the intricate stories that we're now known for," Slavicsek says.

As someone who plays ESO largely solo, I can appreciate what Slavicsek is saying here. I first jumped into ESO almost 10 years ago as a stopgap between Skyrim and Elder Scrolls 6, foolishly assuming there'd be a new mainline entry before too long, and I'm still playing the MMO today largely because the lore and world-building are top-notch.

"I think it also helps that in that 10 years, we have had a constant stream of good releases. I like to say that we're the most prolific AAA game studio, potentially ever," Slavicsek says. "That's the equivalent of more than 10 single player games coming out one right after another, and they all have a certain level of quality that's just not found anywhere else. We're proud of that."

ESO is, of course, a multiplayer game, but it releases yearly updates that have historically trended toward roughly 30 hours of new story content - which is indeed right in line with most single-player AAA releases. This year's big expansion, Gold Road, tells the story of a brand new Daedric Prince - a first in ESO's long history. 

"I had to talk to Bethesda to get them on board with it in a way that would not alter their history, because we don't know about Ithelia in Oblivion or Morrowind or Skyrim," Slavicsek said. "We had to do a story that would account for that. I don't want to spoil how it ends, but we do account for that. And I'm very proud of what the team has accomplished, both with this character who we spent a lot of time developing, and the story we put her in."

Elder Scrolls Online: Gold Road hits PC on June 3 and PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One on June 18. For more, check out my hands-on preview.

Find out where ESO ranked on our list of the best MMOs to play today.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.