There's a new editorial piece up on Ten Ton Hammer, in which the author points to Bethesda's "proven track record" and the focus on conflict as good reasons to believe the forthcoming The Elder Scrolls Online should make a significant splash in the MMO space. I'm not sure I'd say that Matt Firor "founded" ZeniMax Online, however:
The choice of ZeniMax Online Studios as the developer for the new game was a wise decision. Matt Firor founded the company after eleven years at Mythic Entertainment where he worked as a producer for Dark Age of Camelot. DAoC produced one of the best PvP systems seen in MMOs to this day, and Firor has revealed that a similar system will be in use for The Elder Scrolls Online. This system will be composed of three different alliances, engaging each other in persistent PvP or, more appropriately, Realm vs. Realm. This type of PvP has proven to be very dynamic and has demonstrated a great deal of sustainability in DAoC, keeping the game competitive in the market long after many others would have failed.
Capturing the sense of conflict in the MMO will breathe into The Elder Scrolls online the life that it needs to survive. I know it sounds a bit nihilist to make a statement like that, but think about it. There is nothing more immersive than conflict, and giving a player a personal stake in that conflict is a direct path to full on player investment. How many extra hours did you end up plugging into Skyrim just to ensure Imperial dominion or free the Nords of their oppressors?
The Fighters and Mages Guilds are the standard in the Elder Scrolls games, but perhaps before that, there were any number of guilds, all vying for control of regions. ZeniMax needs to allow players to take that ownership and promote inter-guild politics. This can be done without turning it into a madhouse of PvP. They could allow something like the EVE Online system of guilds/alliances to declare relationships, and the DAoC system of relevant areas being centers for PvP with advantages to securing areas. Don't limit it to faction benefits, but allow it to go to Guild/Alliance levels to promote dynamic experiences. Story may make a game, but PvP will sustain it.