Fallout 76, the highly anticipated post-nuclear apocalyptic Bethesda prequel to the Fallout universe, is set to be released on November 14, 2018. However, Bethesda recently announced that the game will not debut on Steam, the popular PC digital distribution platform.
The company confirmed the news to PC Gamer, stating: “the PC version of Fallout 76, for both the B.E.T.A. [otherwise known as Break it Early Test Application] and the launch, will be available only via Bethesda.net, not on Steam.”
The news surprised many fans, as Bethesda already has several games available through Stream, including Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Fallout: 76 would effectively be the first major game from the company not to debut on Valve’s platform.
The Fallout 76 beta FAQ states that “the B.E.T.A. and the game will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and on PC (via Bethesda.net only).”
Some are wondering if the move is just a temporary one, and that Bethesda might just be planning a delay in releasing the game through Steam, as they did with Fallout Shelter. The game was released on Bethesda.net in July 2016, but didn’t make it to Steam until March 2017. PC Gamer speculates that Bethesda could also be pushing for “more widespread adoption of its own launcher,” which would also make sense.
However, the news that Fallout 76 won’t be available on Steam has stirred some controversy among fans of the Fallout universe. Several users have complained on Twitter, claiming Bethesda was continuing to “make decisions that no one asked for,” while others think the game will fail before it’s even been released due to the decision to keep it off of Steam.
Others argued that people were less likely to want to use Bethesda’s network, because it would be an entirely different launcher for people to download and continue to update.
“Speculative sales are still sales,” user Pamela Koehne-Drube wrote on Twitter. “People will buy on Steam on a whim. That’s still revenue. People are less likely to speculatively purchase on a new launcher they have to download and keep updated.”
Other gamers agreed, and said they weren’t interested in adding another launcher to the several launchers they already have to deal with, such as Epic Games, Battle Net and Origin. Users also commented that they enjoy Steam because all of their games are up and ready to go when they sign on.
Some users speculated that Bethesda will eventually give up having it strictly available through Bethesda.net and put it back on Steam within a few months of the release.
“I give it 3-maybe 4 months of people flipping the finger at Bethesda before they decide to take it back and put the game on Steam like they did with Fallout Shelter,” CaptainDodo wrote.
There were some rumors that gamers would have to pay to play, but Bethesda has assured users that all updates in the game will be free, and that there will be “microtransactions” available, but Bethesda assures players that they will only be for cosmetic elements of the game.
CNET reports: “According to the Making of Fallout 76 documentary, you won’t have to pay for updates: all major in-game DLC for the game will be free, and updates will be available ‘for years to come.’ That said, Bethesda will be all to happy to shut up and take your money — microtransactions will allow players to purchase cosmetic items for their character through an online store. Bethesda says players can earn these games through regular gameplay too.”
For those that are curious about the timeline of Fallout 76, the game will be the earliest prequel in the timeline of the series. Previous games mention that Vault 76 is one of the earliest bunkers opened before the blast that wiped out the planet, but none of the games have taken place so soon after, making players among the first survivors of the Great War. According to Bethesda, the game will take place a little over 20 years after the bombs fell, as confirmed on the stage at E3 2018. An detailed layout of what the game will entail can be found here.
The Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. test is set to begin sometime in October. Everyone who pre-orders the game will be invited to take part.