Bethesda and Fallout 76 – A misfire of sizable proportion

Bethesda has been practically silent on the bungled launch of Fallout 76 and it’s honestly a bit surprising. What’s not surprising is just how upset consumers are when you launch a game that clearly wasn’t ready for public consumption. Fallout 76 could be a good game in time, but the warning signs were present all along. It was announced at E3 that it would release in the fall, the B.E.T.A. was a few weeks before release, there was a sizable patch during the testing period which fixed nothing, and then Bethesda decided to release the title anyway.

It didn’t take long for consumers to realize that something was off. The game looks and runs like it was a title meant for last generation. Check out Digital Foundry’s analysis for an in-depth review on the tech behind the game. Reviews have been less than stellar and a week after release the game dropped significantly in price. While this is partially due to the holiday season and deals will be present everywhere, no title from a Triple-A studio should drop almost 50% in price a week after release. It’s a slap in the face for all those who preordered or bought the game at full price.

With all of the negativity surrounding the game, it was only a matter of time where consumers would get extreme in voicing their displeasure with Bethesda. Recently, a class action lawsuit is being proposed due to alleged deceptive practices by the studio and while it is shady that they are not conducting refunds, I doubt that the lawsuit will gain any ground. Yes, the game does not live up to the standards of the studio, but this proposed lawsuit will more than likely result in bringing Bethesda’s practices further into the public light.

Can Bethesda fix the issues of Fallout 76? Absolutely, but the real problem lies in repairing the frayed relationship with the gaming community. EA has to be enjoying the fact that another major studio is getting grilled for mishandling a beloved franchise. Bethesda’s lack of response is eye-opening because they are letting their fanbase do the talking for them. There are people adamantly defending the studio because of their track record. Take a look on social media, it’s illogical that people would defend this game fully aware that it clearly wasn’t ready.

If Bethesda wants to save face, the easiest path forward is to acknowledge the issues and reward players for their patience. Refunds are probably out of the question, but making future content free would be an acceptable response. Something has to be done to ease public discord. Remove all microtransactions, anything that will act as a peace offering would be for future benefit. If Bethesda decides to do nothing, it could be disastrous for future releases. That may seem hard to believe, but look at how the public has responded to EA titles since the controversy surrounding Battlefront 2. It hasn’t been good and EA has been working extra hard to repair their public image.

Missteps happen all the time in gaming. Franchises are constantly being reinvented to maintain relevancy and the results arent always going to be positive. The best a studio can do is accept the loss and do their best to move on. Fallout 76 is currently a misfire and Bethesda is 100% at fault. No need to mince words when the product’s quality does all the talking on the companies behalf. Silence is not the best option, quietly releasing patches is not a smart strategy, the customer needs to be involved otherwise you will lose business.

It would be unfair to say that Bethesda is anything like EA. Up until this point, there hasn’t been any real issues with the studio. This doesn’t however, absolve them from any wrongdoing with the release of Fallout 76. The fact that Fallout Miami, a mod that is currently being developed by the community, looks better and more interesting than a title developed in-house, speaks volumes about the issues surrounding their recent release. It’s not an unfixable situation, but one that can get worse with inactivity.

The negative response by the gaming community won’t stop anytime soon. Fallout 76 will be heavily scrutinized as long as it is associated with the Fallout franchise. This will unfortunately be an example of what not to do when dealing with the public. You can’t sweep the negativity under the rug and hope it goes away. Social media will ensure that you always remember your failures. When you’re a highly visible studio like Bethesda, there is no place where you can hide. Fans will always have the last say and in a year with so many high quality titles, a low quality title from a renown franchise will almost certainly draw the ire of the community. See Mass Effect Andromeda or Metal Gear Survive. It’s unfortunate, but true.

Welcome to the Wasteland, Bethesda.

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