Disclaimer: I harvest no hatred towards Bethesda. I love the company and nearly all of its works. This article is meant for educational and analytical purposes.
Bethesda Game Studios. They brought us so many wonders and amazing adventures in the form of the Elder Scrolls franchise as well as Fallout 3. Heck, even Fallout 4 wasn’t even a that bad depending on who you ask. But recently the company has been coming under fire for many things that are bottling up and preparing to blow over on them if they continue the path they are taking.
For those who do not know, Bethesda Game Studios (also known as BGS) is a triple A games developer. They have built quite a reputation of creating fantastic open world role playing experiences thanks to the efforts of those such as Todd Howard. Such games include The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, Fallout 3, and The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. As you can tell, they have quite the reputation in the gaming community.
However, things began to change when the highly anticipated Fallout 4 began receiving mediocre or negative reception from the fanbase. This wasn’t a huge issue, but it planted the seeds of doubt. The blunders of Fallout 4 included a series of (expected) bugs and glitches, fewer role-playing options, outdated visuals, and a poor narrative direction in comparison to games like Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. The bugs and glitches as well as visual enhancements were mostly taken care of early on by the modding community like clockwork, but the lack of choice and narrative failures were harder to excuse. Todd Howard himself in an interview with Gamespot has admitted to some of those problems as he said,
“I think our fans are used to it over time, that we do like to try new things. And we’ll have some successes, you know I think the shooting in Fallout 4 is really good, I think it plays really well. Obviously, the way we did some dialogue stuff, that didn’t work as well. But it was I think — I know the reasons we tried that, to make a nice interactive conversation, but [it was] less successful than other things in the game. For us, we take that feedback, and I think long term…
Or other things we did in the game, like the choices you have in the end. When we have an opportunity with something like Far Harbor, like “Okay, how many ways can it end?” Let’s give them more choice with something like that. And so, it’s not just a one-off, meaning Fallout 4 comes out and then we forget about it…
I think it’s an ongoing thing, and I think that kind of feedback we get is really, really helpful. And you’re right that everybody does have an opinion, and I think that’s good.”
His transparent acknowledgement of some issues had calmed down the fans’ decline in faith in the company including myself.
Unfortunately, BGS began to fan the flames again when they implemented the Creation Club feature in Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition. The Creation Club feature introduced paid mods to Bethesda titles. Again, this was not seen as a huge problem due to said mods being replicated and being able to be used for free, or the fact that the PC player base has no need for what the Creation Club offers simply due to the vast variety of options in methods of acquiring free mods. Generally, overtime, the fan base still had faith in BGS and their upcoming titles such as the at the time rumored Starfield and anticipation for a new Elder Scrolls game announcement.
So E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) 2018 hits and BGS announces a large amount of amazing upcoming titles such as Starfield, Elder Scrolls VI, etc. But there was a game that stood out from the crowd that they announced just before E3; the one releasing this year (2018): Fallout 76. This game from the very beginning was controversial as Kotaku writer, Jason Schreier, said that the game was going to be an “Online Survival RPG.”
People expected a full-on single player RPG due to the atmosphere of the cinematic trailer. BGS should have been more transparent with what type of game Fallout 76 was going to be. But I don’t hold BGS entirely at fault. They take 4-5 year development cycles and announces Fallout 76 three years after the release of Fallout 4, and I believe fans including myself are also at fault for assuming that it was a full on BGS game.
At the E3 showcase BGS confirmed the rumors of Fallout 76 being an online game and this is where the vocal minority of BGS doubters began to rapidly grow. Once the game released, it turned those fanned flames into a wildfire. The game in its current state is simply broken, full of bugs that were fixed by modders in Fallout 4. The visuals of the game have improved, but only slightly and fans were disappointed severely. To be fair to BGS, they did say that the online element is a new venture for them and they did ask us to be patient with them. So many fans and I gave them the benefit of the doubt.
And now more recent blunders by BGS are making the calming wildfire into a firestorm. There was a recent controversy for those who purchased the $200 edition of Fallout 76. They were promised a canvas duffel bag in the bundle. To fans’ disappointment, they have received a cheaper nylon bag. The response form Bethesda was lukewarm at best; offering a $5.00 value compensation in in-game Fallout 76 currency. At this point, the fans are really unhappy. Also, to kick ‘em while they’re down, it has
been released in an online article that influencers (games media, journalists, youtubers, etc.) have received very nice quality bags for playing the game early at press events. Of course, this doesn’t show any sort of bias necessarily, but fans see that BGS has the capability and resources to create such bag and the fans that spent so much feels neglected. Later, BGS did address the issues and gave a formal apology. Unfortunately, the damage has beendone, and the fans’ trust in BGS is officially scarred.
This is where I’m going to insert my thoughts, so if you do not care, feel free to end your reading of this article. Bethesda has really dug themselves into a ditch in this situation. Like EA, Activision Blizzard, and Bungie, all of the good faith fans of BGS including myself had has been tarnished. I love Bethesda and all of the games published under them, however these recent actions are inexcusable. After such an amazing E3 presentation, it’s saddening to see the PR disaster Bethesda has gotten themselves into. My advice would be to back up your apologetic words and just give the $200 purchasers the canvas duffel bags, or better forms of compensation. In the future if there will be any changes to a product being purchased, just be transparent. Bethesda needs to think long-term. If you go to a restaurant and food is supposed to be good, but the service is terrible, will you go back to that restaurant? I sure wouldn’t. Also, fans want you to update your visuals in your games for the longest time. Please listen to the players, that’s the lesson every corporate head at these game companies should see. For example, During the first 4-5 seasons of Fortnite, people loved the game to death. Epic was listening to fans and improving the game based off of fan interaction, but now Fortnite’s developers have not been as communicative and have been making the game’s quality worse every season. I don’t have fun playing it anymore. I do hope that Fallout 76 is a way for Bethesda to make extra money to make future titles even better like how Hideo Kojima released Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes to raise some more money for the development of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
My message for Bethesda: Please put the player first. The reason why you got so big was due to taking your time and creating high quality works that fans love. Don’t get greedy for money; passion is what creates success for both gamers and developers. If you need any further proof, look at the success of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 and CD Projekt Red with The Witcher III.
Written By: Julius Choi
Published By: GenZNews