I’m not sure I’ve ever witnessed a well-respected developer fall from grace as fast as Bethesda is falling right now with this entire Fallout76 fiasco. Blizzard’s fall was slower, with welfare epics in WotLK being a minor hint rather than the full-face slap that F76 is ushering in. EA has been terrible for as long as I can remember. Ubisoft has always been hit or miss, same with Sony. But until F76, Bethesda the developer (not to be confused with Bethesda the publisher) had a great track record of games and support.
Yes, Bethesda games traditionally were a buggy mess on release, but not to the point where most couldn’t actually enjoy them. I played recent Fallout and Elder Scroll games on release, and sure, they had bugs, but day-one they were amazing titles that only got better with time. There was enough justified negativity around F76 to make me pass on that being a day-one title, and nothing since release has pushed me closer to buying in. In fact, I’m now more ‘out’ on F76 than ever. I still have faith it will eventually be a buy-worthy title, but “buy eventually at a discount to get some enjoyment out of it” is a steep, steep drop from all previous titles.
But IMO by far the worst thing to happen is the bait-and-switch related to the bag included in the $200 special edition. Polygon has an article up, but basically the advertised duffel bag was show as a canvas bag, but instead a cheaper nylon bag was shipped instead. Bethesda’s justification? The canvas bag was too expensive to make, so they went nylon. I’d not only instantly fire whoever came up with that response, but I’d fire just about anyone who had knowledge of this switch and went along with it.
Here is why this is so egregious. The average gamer isn’t buying your $200 special edition. The average Bethesda fan isn’t either. Not even the average Fallout fan. No, the vast majority of the people spending $200 on a copy of your game are your superfans. The hardcore of the hardcore. The absolute last group of people you want to piss off, and especially over money. They already gave you $200, and we can be fairly confidence that the profit margin on the special edition is higher than the standard edition. But even if we pretend the margin is lower, you’re still making money. You don’t put together the stuff in the special edition, get the cost, and then set the price at basically the cost. Bethesda isn’t paying $200 to make the special edition. I doubt they are paying even $50.
So let’s say the price to produce the canvas bag goes up after Bethesda announced and sold the edition, even if it goes up 100% over the original estimated cost. That doesn’t put Bethesda in the red on selling the special edition. And we are talking about a fairly basic item here. This isn’t some specially produced, ‘only one place in the world can make it’ item. It’s a goddamn bag with some Fallout graphics on it. And yes, the quality of the bag ultimately isn’t a huge deal, and has zero impact on the actual game, but it’s the message this sends. Bethesda would rather save a few bucks than do right by their most dedicated fans. (as shown by wallet-vote, the absolute most important metric of how big a fan you really are)
Want to know how you make the above disaster worse? Double down on the giant ‘F you’ to fans by having your second response be an offer of $5 of in-game cash shop currency. Five bucks, of in-game value, to people who paid you $200. Honestly Bethesda telling everyone to shove it and get over the bag being cheap would have been a MORE acceptable answer than trying to ‘make right’ by offering five bucks of in-game currency. I bet even EA looked at that response and shook their heads (or got an idea for next time…)
Just all around terrible, from a studio I was a huge fan and supporter of prior to F76. Get it together in time for Elder Scrolls 6 please!
Edit: This truly is incredible. The in-game cost for a bag in F76 is 700 atoms, so the 500 Bethesda gave for this isn’t even enough to buy a bag skin in-game.