First of all the Elder Scrolls setting holds a special niche in my heart somewhere near the things I hold a childlike fondness for. That same fondness that leads me to forgive certain flaws so long as the underlying idea is sound. It sits among things like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Diablo. Not quite the level of "Mom" and certainly not at the deified status of "Grandma" but you get the idea.
So the report is that ESO thus far has spent 200 million dollars. That's a hefty sunken cost, especially when only a few years about SWTOR spent 150 million and substantially underperformed. That's my first concern, all of these WoW killer type MMOs will talk big and spend big, but ultimately fail to live up to expectations. ESO needs to make up that cash, and its already been shown that they fully intend to try and get every dollar out of the customer. There will be the box fee, subscription fee, a cash shop, and of course the CE/pre-order bonuses. That is to say, it is clear that more than most developers their first goal is to get every cent they can out of the player.
Let me reiterate on the pre-order/CE topic briefly. Imperials are a race you've been able to play since at least Morrowind. To me that would be like WoW 2 coming out and expecting you to buy the Collector's Edition to play an orc. Yes, there are other races of human in the game, but they are different peoples with different cultures. Furthermore, the developers have stated that the Imperials will have a unique skill line that they will try to balance. The keyword is "try." Eight years and World of Warcraft still encounters bumps on the road of balancing its races. Which brings me to my next point...
New to a crowded block
Zenimax is a new company, and while it is certainly made up of experienced developers it is a new entity that has never been tested. Companies with much stronger pedigrees like Square and Bioware have entered the MMO market and met with mixed success and failure. Zenimax has not given me any reason to think they will succeed where their predecessors failed. Just like SWTOR it's a well established IP with a long history but that's already proven not to carry much weight when the two ton pandaren in the room still has the floor.
To make matters worse ESO is coming out at a time when the market is about to explode with new MMOs.
Not ambitious enough
I'll briefly succumb to the lure of cliche and note that, as in any industry, in the MMO market it is "Go big or go home." While ESO is trying a somewhat more engaging combat and leveling system, it isn't a revolution on what is already found in the market. Boil it down to its component parts and it's a theme park MMO with quest hubs and conquerable areas. Nothing it is doing is especially "new" it's just somewhat polished and set in a well established setting. The thing is I don't think that is enough in this day and age. If you are going to release an MMO it has to be different, it has to stand out, and it has to be interesting enough to get people to break the social and time-investment bonds they have already made in your competitor's games and move to yours.
At the end of the day, I do genuinely hope I am wrong about ESO. A large part of me would love to watch me eat those words as ESO blows the industry out of the water, but the way I see it the cards are not falling that way.
* I have none