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A response to Joe's great Fallout '76 review - Bethesda's history of Fallout '76-ing things up

6 posts in this topic

Hi. I think that Joe did a great job holding Bethesda accountable for Fallout '76. It was great and refreshing (from what we're used to from professional game reviews, not specifically yours) to hear you say it all like it really is.


If reviewers had held Bethesda to account for major issues that were Oblivion, Fallout 3, Skyrim... instead of glossing over them to remain dwelling in elated fan sentiments over the things about the games that they like, things would have never gotten to this point in the first place - and the same thing also applies with DICE and Battlefield / Battlefront, and other developers. Bethesda has been treated for ages like their farts are made of perfume, and as a result Bethesda has been just farting and shitting all over everything and expecting people to be impressed.

The practices of surrounding Fallout '76 aren't actually out of character for Bethesda. In fact, they're pretty much exactly what Bethesda has done all along, or at least since earlier on in their history. It's just that a lot of people didn't pay attention to any of it before and just was whatever towards it because they were too entrapped by their assumed perception of the company based on enjoying getting to play fantasy in their game worlds. And Fallout '76 is perhaps where it has all culminated into one ridiculous package.



Below, I've taken a post I made some months ago on LTT's forums and expanded it to be a more fleshed-out in providing a summary of many of the things Bethesda has done in the past that are actually perfectly in character with what they've done with Fallout '76. I'm sure that Joe already knows many of these things, but I hope that the larger historical picture might be useful to recalibrate what many people dogmatically think about Bethesda.



--------------------------------- Opening the Scrolls: Unpacking the Shady and Scandal-Plagued History of Bethesda / ZeniMax ---------------------------------


For a long time, there has existed a strange anomaly in the gaming community: The unbalanced and blind perception of Bethesda / ZeniMax as being a 'good-person' developer and publisher. This perception has been held by many of the companies' fans despite all the while the company keeps doing things that contradict that perception. In many ways, Bethesda / ZeniMax have been games industry leaders in scummy, disrespectful, and exploitative lawsuit-happy practices, going back for more than a decade, showing them to be one of the most arrogant and uncontrollably greedy companies in gaming.

So, here is a sobering look at many of Bethesda / ZeniMax' unscrupulous practices and events going back to the companies' earlier years.



The company known today as Bethesda and ZeniMax was formed through some betrayal and back-stabbing.

Julian Le Fay, generally considered the creator of the Elder Scrolls series, directed the first three Elder Scrolls games, Arena, Daggerfall, and Battlespire, and expected to continue working on the series he created with the next game, TES: Morrowind. But, he was sidelined from the project and consequently left the company.

Bethesda's founder, Christopher Weaver, was forced out of his own company after he put up lots of his own money to save the company.

Watch 23:54 - 25:30 in this video for details about those departures:




$10 horse armour DLC for Oblivion: This is the historical origin of and precedence for all other nickle-and-diming exploitative DLC practices that have since screwed gamers over. Bethesda was the first pioneer of exploitative and greedy DLC practices. After Bethesda had then gotten public expectations for DLC, a then-new and non-established concept, set at their absolute rock-bottom, many other publishers followed and expanded upon Bethesda's lead with their own exploitative DLC practices.



Bethesda sued Mojang over the use of "Scrolls" as a game title, even after Mojang already volunteered to give up the Scrolls title, and then settled out of court because it became pretty clear that Bethesda was likely going to lose the case.

Notch Offered to Give Up "Scrolls" Trademark, Bethesda Sued Anyway

Bethesda And Mojang Settle 'Scrolls' Lawsuit



Bethesda intentionally destroyed developer of 2012's Prey 2, Human Head, by starving the studio of resources to force it into a corner where Human Head would feel like they had to sell the studio to Bethesda for a far-below-value price in order to survive. Human Head did not give in to Bethesda, and as a result of having no income from Prey 2 after having spent its resources making Prey 2, couldn't afford to make another big-title game:



It has taken from then until now for Human Head to recover enough financially to be able to make a new big-title game. Human Head's first big-title game since 2006's Prey will be Rune: Ragnarok, and I'm guessing that it will release next year.



Bethesda reportedly did the same thing to Arkane Studios





Suing Facebook and Oculus for $4 billion, trying to get ownership over Oculus technology, while outright losing their original case. The jury awarded $500 million in damages to ZeniMax over breach of NDA, copyright infringement, and false-designation, but all of ZeniMax' original and core claims against Facebook and Oculus were found to be invalid by the court.

ZeniMax awarded $500 million judgment in Oculus lawsuit

Facebook and Oculus are appealing the $500 million verdict: Oculus Vows Appeal of $500 Million Verdict, ZeniMax Threatens Injunction

John Carmack has given a public defence of himself, while suggesting that ZeniMax are liars. He said that ‘The Internet Would Have Viciously Mocked The Analysis’ in the $500 million verdict.



Suing Samsung as an extension of their lawsuit against Facebook and Oculus.

ZeniMax sues Samsung over VR technology in Gear goggles



Suing developer of Kickstarter project "Prey for the Gods" over having the word Prey in their title. The developer opted to simply modify their game's name to "Praey for the Gods" rather than to deal with Bethesda's frivolous lawsuit.

Prey for the Gods changes name to avoid fight with Bethesda's Prey



Turning community mods into a capitalist venture with paid mods and opening their own Bethesda games digital distribution storefront to continue to pursue paid mods after Valve backtracked on having them sold through Steam following public backlash.



If you criticize Bethesda too much on their forums, expect to be banned. The Bethesda forums are like a daycare centre for toddlers because of draconian moderation. Partial lobotomy and Bethesda fanboyism is required for entrance and staying there.



In a clear violation of the law, Bethesda tried to pretend that it was the law and could stop people from reselling their own game properties and dictate whether a person could list their own unopened games as "new" when reselling them.

Bethesda tried to pull this stunt despite the US Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the EU both having definitively ruled that people may resell their copyrighted goods without needing any permission from the copyright holder. Bethesda purporting to prohibit people from listing their unopened games a "new" condition would be an instance of the copyright-holder denying the game owner permission to resell that game-owner's own game, and would therefore be a violation of the US Supreme Court and the EU's Court of Justice rulings:

US Supreme Court Rules People May Resell Copyrighted Goods Without Copyright-Holder's Permission - US Software Association Has a Fit

EU Court Says, Yes, You Can Resell Your Software, Even If The Software Company Says You Can't



A whole lot about Fallout '76, which is a dated asset-flip game too buggy for some people to even play:


- The $200 USD Power Armour edition that screwed buyers of it over when Bethesda pulled a bait-and-switch with the advertised canvas bag that was replaced in the actual released product with what basically looks like a crumpled-up garbage bag with no resemblance to the advertised bag.

- The blunt brush-off from Bethesda support admitting that they did pull a bait-and-switch with the canvas bag, and further stated they simply aren't going to do anything about it. Bethesda later apologized for the curtness of the earlier Bethesda support's reply, yet didn't apologize for and didn't offer to fixe what the actual issue was, which is the bait-and-switch of the advertised canvas bag.

- The crap design of the game, which MSRP'd at $60 USD yet plays like a $20 early-access title at its release.

- Refusing to refund the game for people who couldn't play it because it was too broken.

- Completely ludicrous and offensive micro-transaction fees such as charging $18 USD for a single power armour skin just to add some blue-coloured paint to it. Coming from the inventor of nickle-and-diming exploitative and egregiously-priced DLC, though, perhaps nobody should be surprised by this - though they certainly ought to be outraged.

- Insulting upset Power Armour edition purchasers further by offering them a pathetic 500 Atoms ($5 USD) in-game currency for micro-transactions, when that can basically only buy one hairdo model, or two facial tattoos.

- Turning previously-free character customization content from Fallout 4 into nickle-and-diming paid content in Fallout '76


Because of all the scandals surrounding Fallout '76, Bethesda has come under investigation for bad business practices.



All-around really bad, just completely mindless game-design, met with low production quality values including what perhaps bugs me the most about Bethesda games: the pisspoor, unintentionally-cringy loopy writing, and the banal quest design - which, in some cases, is also combined with mishandling of lore such as for the Fallout series which Bethesda acquired from Interplay in 2007. And then there is the notorious dumbing-down of their games which I find has resulted in there being hardly anything meaningful left to do in them anymore.

I think it's a reasonable argument to make, to say that Bethesda Games Studios games have traditionally often displayed the lowest production quality values out of the whole AAA games business - in writing, animations, voice-acting, quest design, character models...


The Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 3 - a five-part analysis





Some final thoughts

There might some additional information about other ZeniMax / Bethesda lawsuits in this article: A brief history of Bethesda’s many legal tangles

So, when talking scummy and greedy publishers, I think both history and the present show that ZeniMax / Bethesda is not only ranked up there at the top along with all the worst of publishers in the history of the games industry (whether people think of EA, ActiVision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, or any other publisher), but that Bethesda has even done and is still doing a lot of stuff that's worse than stuff we think of other big publishers as evil for doing. People just haven't been tuning into it.

Bethesda is basically the software developer equivalent of a patent troll: They acquire big idea game IPs from non-Bethesda talent (including TES, since the series creator was separated from it and then left the compnay), and then milk them while progressively squeezing the life out of them as they're dumbed-down closer to oblivion with each successive release.

For all these reasons, I think it's important and very long overdue that people start practising serious cautiousness and discretion when thinking about what Bethesda represents. Through so many years of unbalanced and blind-eye-turning praise, Bethesda fans have enabled and encouraged Bethesda to think of themselves as a lot better and more entitled than they really are by letting everything all go to Bethesda's heads despite Bethesda not really having done things to deserve their historically-positive reputation. And now, Bethesda no longer even cares to simply try to appear be reasonable and decent for the sake of their own reputation.


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I'll also throw in these two additional examples of things that have stirred some controversy or community misgivings about Bethesda. These were told me by a couple of other people elsewhere.



Maybe a niche one, but something you can add.

They launched fallout 4, and later the VR edition, but it's another full-price release and has no DLC (officially supported at least).


For people that have fallout 4 and get an oculus or a vive, it's a massive slap in the face because.

1. You need to buy the exact same game AGAIN, with the only difference being VR supprt.

2. No official DLC, if you want the DLC you need to mod it in, which doesn't always work perfectly.

3. (minor one, mainly annoying) Different saves, if you play F4 VR and want to switch to non-vr (or the other way round) you need to manually copy around your save. No offiicial support for that either but it usually works.


Also support after release has been crap, almost no updates but that's no surprise i guess.




Yeah, you forgot one thing.

Fallout: New Vegas

Why did I mention possible one of the most revered modern Fallout titles by the fanbase?

The PC version of the game got a Metacritic score of 84. That sounds good, right? Well, yeah, but it wasn't for Obsidian, because Bethesda had targeted an 85 for Obsidian in order to obtain a bonus.

And the result? "NO BONUS FOR YOU"



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Damn. Just damn. No wonder Bethesda has been sloppy. I feel now by this point that karma is slowly catching up to them.

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Given Joe's new video and the yet one more ridiculous behaviour from Bethesda, this seems pertinent again.

A lot of people say Bethesda has become a terrible company, but I think It's not so much that Bethesda has become a terrible company as it is that they were always a terrible company but gamers just didn't tune into it or want to hear it in previous years because, to the massive influx of sixth and seventh console gamers, everything was new, golden, and shiny, and they wanted nothing to rain on their party of blindly hyping up the companies making their shiny worlds as 'chosen ones' or real-life St Nicholases. Also, the information wasn't as well compiled and readily available years ago, and the vocal gaming audience was younger and less experienced and mature and didn't care as much for business practices and politics.

But I think the evidence shows that this is what Bethesda has always been since the days of Oblivion and their infamous Horse Armor DLC that may have been the first microtransaction. Bethesda pioneered being shitty nickle-and-diming gaming practices, they're progenitors of that stuff. Bethesda was that terrible company while people were caught up in Oblivion, Fallout 3 (which sucks), and Skyrim. They're maybe parading it more openly now, and targeting their customers harder after having previously focused on targeting other developers.

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Hate to say it, but now that I think about it I have to agree with you. I came into Oblivion and Fallout 3 late, but the horse armor DLC is now back on my mind. The bad thing is too is that if you compared Skyrim to Oblivion you can see a clear difference in quality so it really feels like they have been sprinting on a downhill slope for quite a while. I really hope Fallout 76 is a way for them to finally wake up and see what they are doing as a company. Fans do not want to play a game that is half-baked, full of micro-transactions, and bland/boring. In other news I think its time to hit up Outer Worlds, the true heir to Fallout style games. Just got to find a way to fit it into my current schedule.

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When that $2.50 Horse Armor came out, it was unheard of to do such a practice and to charge anything for something so small. I person might have expected back then that if such an item was to be added, that it might be maybe one of a handful of such things added as extras in a code patch. Charging $2.50 for a skin back when Bethesda did it in Oblivion seemed as outrageous to me back then as others seem to think that charging $100 or $13 a month for a Fallout '76 annual subscription that includes fundamental and needed gameplay elements is today.

One thing that a lot of people don't seem to understand is that blindly hyping something is not neutral or a victimless action. It is feeding something - greed, arrogance, and is creating the relationship dynamic with the developer and publisher that tells them that those doing the hyping are their bitches and the devloper and publisher completely owns them and are entitled to treat them any way they choose. It creates a power imbalance. There is deserved praise, and then there is hype. Hype is praise that is unsubstantiated by facts, being not connected to actual merit. It is dangerous and damaging, and it creates and feeds the monsters like Bethesda, EA, and ActiVision.

I would go so far as to say that hype is a gamer sin. Because it's truthless, being praise apart from substantiation, any amount of it that's taken as anything other than a joke or messing around results in some negative consequence later on that needs to be corrected and / or suffered through. People can't adopt a falsehood as belief without there being a negative consequence to it.


Firstly, the publishers and developers doing abusive practices are to blame for their decisions and actions and for having no independent judgment and morality that stops them from behaving corruptly, arrogant, unjustly, disrespectfully, and abusively. They are those primarily responsible for this.

However, in a way, the abuse gamers are getting today is also a product of them reaping what they sowed in years past when they gave free passes to publishers and developers as they started strange exploitative practices and then progressively ratcheted things up once they got their scheming foots in the door. Gamers fed that monster and many of them also bit at and mocked people who called out companies while the manifestations of corruption were much smaller.

And the things companies did in the past have to be looked at in the context of the times: $2.50 Horse Armor at a time when no such practices existed, when such items were just nice little patch extras, and when people were given far more for there gaming money (bugs aside) = $100 Fuck You First subscription fee in 2019. This stuff is to be judged based on how much companies are willing to move into negatives based on their current environment and contemporarily-accepted standards and expectations. The same people at the companies that do these things today would have been slave-traders in the 1700s or 1800s - and many of them would surely sell their customers into slavery if it were legal to do so today, just like Microsoft or Facebook would.

The movement towards exploitative practices is the sign that the full corruption is waiting there for an avenue to get itself established. The small exploitations become larger ones if they aren't stamped out when they appear. And the gaming community in general has been turning blind eyes to all the smaller gamer / customer exploitations for years, even rationalizing and praising them, and that's probably why there are now big gamer / customer exploitations.

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