It all started with Fallout 76’s less-than-impressive launch.
Then the problems started rolling in with basically everything Bethesda touched.
So what is going on at one of gaming’s biggest developers?
No one is quite sure, but it seems like the monetization bug has infected some of our most-beloved franchises.
Because, let’s be clear, Fallout 76 came out in a sorry state and is still barely playable by most standards.
Not only is it seen as a quick cash grab on a storied named, but also it’s just a bad game with half-baked concepts and weak execution.
If you’re thinking people are disappointed in it, you’d be correct.
The thing is, though, that Bethesda might have gotten away with it had they just turned out a quality product.
But they didn’t do that – instead, they gave us all a game that has the feel of an indie interpretation of a Fallout game.
This in an era of fan mods that sometimes eclipse full, triple-A releases of games.
Then the company released an Elder Scrolls mobile app that has also had a less-than-warm reception with paywalls and money grabs everywhere in the game.
What is the explanation behind these pretty questionable moves?
Many people point to increased pressure on Bethesda to monetize aspects of their games and make more money.
While this is a pressure that many studios have felt in a general sense, it seems to be expressing itself in a much more clear way with Bethesda than with others.
This might be because of a couple of reasons, but two of the biggest are Bethesda’s limited stable of games and the relative high-quality of those games.
You see, if Bethesda wants to make a mobile app, they don’t have an old IP they could dust off and make some money from selling it. Their best games are their most popular games, and their history is somewhat confined to that.
Imagine if Blizzard only had Diablo and maybe Warcraft as massive, general audience franchises. To be sure, Bethesda makes some big name games, but are DOOM and company the best candidates for a mobile title?
Not really, but most RPGs, regardless of the developer, are some of the easiest transitions to a mobile app that devs can make.
And that’s why Bethesda has made some questionable moves with hallowed franchises.
Plus, there’s a bit of hubris at work here, too.
When The Elder Scrolls Online first came out, it was basically garbage.
Everyone criticized the company for tarnishing the name of TES with that MMORPG installment.
But the team stuck with it and now TES Online is one of the bigger MMORPGs out there.
Why shouldn’t lightning strike twice?
Whether or not it will work out with regard to Bethesda’s mobile games and monetized offerings remains to be seen but the company has dug in its heels and is determined to fight the good fight for the long haul.
Some of us just wonder how much collateral damage will have to be taken in the meantime.