Hot Take – Bethesda Is Nuking Its Goodwill

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Note: The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author’s and does not represent the views of MP1st and its staff as a whole.

A Hot Take is a piece of commentary deliberately written to be provocative and is based on shallow moralizing in response to a recent news story.

Bethesda has for a long time been one of the more favored developers of RPGs in the industry, its legendary franchises The Elder Scrolls and Fallout have been in everyone’s house one way or another. That is, until now.

Bethesda has joined the ranks of EA, Ubisoft, and Activision as a publisher and developer that has nuked its goodwill to the point that it will take years of not screwing up to regain consumer trust. Drastic changes to its Fallout series have foreshadowed a new direction that fans were skeptical of following, and with the release of Fallout 76, Bethesda’s multiplayer take on the Fallout franchise, that skepticism paid off.

Bug after bug has plagued their latest title, and it’s not some games media conspiracy to point it out. There are so many bugs in the game that there are now entire compilation videos on YouTube detailing them. No other developer receives treatment like that. The best part? Bethesda had to have known their title was unreasonably buggy when they launched the game just over two weeks ago. The mindset of ‘release now fix later’ is akin to biting the hand that feeds you; Sacrificing goodwill to meet sales and to get the game out of the door always comes back negatively from those who buy your game. And with the power of the internet, that negative response goes from a small Reddit post to being plastered on the front page of every outlet that covers video games.

To make matters comically worse, Bethesda’s $200 collector’s edition was advertised to come with a canvas carrying bag but instead came with a nylon bag, which, based off of the pictures of it, is much lower quality. Bethesda didn’t even notify those who ordered the edition that the bag shown in the advertisement was only a prototype and that they weren’t actually receiving a canvas bag. Bethesda didn’t even bother to retake photos of their collector’s edition with a nylon bag, let alone inform retailers of this change. Best Buy’s listing for the edition on their website STILL advertises the collector’s edition as coming with a canvas bag.

Bethesda’s response to the justifiable outrage? “We’re sorry,” and here’s $5 of fake money that you can use in the game to buy maybe a door and some stickers. Yup. That’s right. Five whole dollars of in-game money as an apology for falsely advertising to you on a $200 collector’s edition of a game so broken it required a patch larger than the initial download.

The video game industry is full of people who make good video games for people who appreciate and enjoy them. They make an excellent effort to make their buyers and potential buyers feel like they have a voice and that they genuinely matter even when they are nickel and diming you with predatory loot boxes and microtransactions. Bethesda, for a long time, followed that philosophy even through selling you horse armor, until now.

They have, without a doubt, taken what goodwill they had left and nuked it by being cheap and careless. It feels like Bethesda wanted to capitalize on sentiment that all their games are buggy, so it would be okay to release it now and fix it later like they always do. Wait. I’m sorry. That’s actually not true. Bethesda doesn’t even fix their games; they leave it to their die-hard modding community to patch the problems themselves. Why waste company resources when some kid with a gaming PC can do it for free in his bedroom?

It’s time Bethesda takes a hard look at their management and ask themselves if they need new leadership because it’s clear that those at the helm are steering this ship into an iceberg that they can clearly see.

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