In talking with our sister site Joystiq at PAX, Bethesda's Todd Howard fields the question with blunt honesty. "I like this kind of game better," he said. "You know, it's what most of us are into. I'm not really an MMO guy. I respect them, I look at them, but I don't play them. It feels more real to me when I'm the hero and it's crafted for that. A community aspect to it, I recognize a lot of people would want that in a game like this, but it changes the flavor for me.
Of course, one man's feelings toward the genre aren't always enough to stave off corporate demands, but Howard says that isn't the case: "We can just do our thing, and it's kind of grown with each game. So there was no pressure from anybody above me to say 'Hey, you need to change this.'"
That doesn't mean Bethesda will forever abstain from MMOs, however. Bethesda's parent company, ZeniMax Media, built an MMO customer support facility in Ireland earlier this year, an indication that online gaming may very well be in the company's future.