Author Topic: The elephant in the room (or the grenade in the shitter)  (Read 44 times)

Offline Starfox

  • Master Keeper
  • Totally Awesome Member - Won A Cookie!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2456
  • Did anybody see my lenses?
    • The Foxhole
The elephant in the room (or the grenade in the shitter)
« on: November 30, 2018, 06:02:13 PM »
So, shall we address the elephant in the room? Sure we should, because in the face of all that happened and was said (and is still said) during the past weeks, how could we ignore that? Quite frankly, I can't recall a time when Bethesda was under as much fire as it currently is. In fact it never was. Until now, gamers tended to consider Bethesda with a mocking benevolence and yes, almost affection. But that seems to be really over now. And when I talk about taking fire, they're not even in damage control mode, they switched directly to panic mode because it's obvious they don't even know how to handle that. Pete Hynes had a one week Twitter blackout when the whole thing started to derail. Sure they possibly expected Fallout 76 to be like any other Bethesda release with people complaining about bugs but swallowing their pride and being ecstatic as they were exploring post-apocalyptic West Virginia. They certainly didn't expect the majority of users to stand up and cry out loud "Enough is enough band of m...f...rs! Fallout 76 is crap! And what's more, you knew it long before release!"

To be frank, I didn't play Fallout 76 nor have I any intention to play it (the main reason why I'll explain below and no it's not even because it's an online game) so I won't be the one to pass judgement on the game itself. WIth that said, I've been following the drama during the past weeks and boy... what a messy weather for Bethesda. With 34 official reviews available today on Metacritic, the game received a very disappointing (For a Bethesda game anyway) 54/100. On the user side, the score is 2.9/10 over near 4000 reviews and I'm not even talking about the Playstation 4 and Xbox One scores that are even worse. On Xbox One, the console of choice for Bethesda, professional reviewers even  properly butchered the game with a 49/100). Even accounting with the unavoidable fanboys' 10s and haters' 0s that's not feeling good for Bethesda especially because most of the negative users' reviews that are well constructed (and there are many of them -- I automatically eliminated from my consideration one lines reviews or reviews that are visibly by people who didn't even play the game) tend to start with "I'm (or was) a fan of Bethesda but this thing is pure crap". Youtube is flooded with people who played the beta and the final release and found it underwhelming (to put it gently), far from a Fallout experience or simply disastrously buggy and unplayable.

Even more, some who weren't interested in the other Fallout games because they were single player but where interest in a Fallout multiplayer game trash 76.

Some even took to call Fallout 76 "the game that makes Fallout 4 look good". From what I gathered it's fair enough the only novelties being the online component and the Atom market (you know the in-game market from which you can buy so much crap to add to the $60 you forked for the game which incidently is the same price as Fallout 4 on its release; -- while at the same time removing most of what make a Fallout game compelling... Story, NPC, quests... yes Bethesda really tried to found the perfect way to make money while barely lifting a finger).

As for me, even if I had a modicum of interest in Fallout 76 I wouldn't buy it... Why? Because it's a game that is only available retail (can only be registered on Bethesda.net) and directly from Bethesda.net. And the last thing we need as gamers is another "Origin" because this is exactly where Bethesda is going with that. Another Steam "clone" you'll have to install if you want to play THEIR games. Currently we have Steam, Origin, UPlay and even already Bethesda.net for some products as Fallout 4 and Skyrim SE Creation Kit (that won't start if you don't log in). How many f...ing DRM platforms do we still need? One is enough but now they all want a piece of the Steam cake and to be sure that Steam won't be a shadow they decide to cut it off the loop (at least for Electronic Arts Origin and Bethesda.net; Ubisoft Uplay still has to take such an action, they only require you to register their games with UPlay but continue to sell them through Steam). To think that those people were the same saying that Steam was a joke when it started.

But it's not about all that that I post this. It's because right now, Bethesda is the perfect model to show what happens when you have literally no goodwill left in the bank... Goodwill is this thing that allows companies to have an astounding amount of pre-orders or to be forgiven in case of blunder... In short it's a measure of consumer's trust. Bethesda realizes with Fallout 76 reviews (both from professionals and customers) that they are seriously running out of goodwill to the point that it has become non-existent. Through the years though Bethesda had generated an enormous amount of goodwill mainly with the TES series from Morrowind to Skyrim and to a lesser extent with Fallout 3 and especially Fallout New Vegas even though they weren't the ones developing it. This goodwill allowed for example to have each release of their games buggy as Hell, with quite minimal attempt at correcting the bugs -- the modding community did most of that work -- and to not have the fanbase rebel (even today there are a few people left to continue the old anthem "well, Fallout 76 is buggy, it's normal, it's Bethesda, duh!". Well things is most other people seeing Fallout 76 are waking up realizing that this is NOT normal and that Bethesda should have been hold up to much higher programming standards a long time ago).

But then came Fallout 4 and the goodwill started to erode -- because let's face it, Fallout 4 is an average game at best, you can play it and even enjoy it -- I sort of did after I installed many many mods; hell it's the most modded Bethesda game I ever had -- if you disconnect your brain from the many issues that come with the game (and I'm talking about issues that sadly mods cannot correct -- we could start with the voiced protagonist; a voice protagonist is good for certain type of games, The Witcher, Mass Effect... but for Fallout it really isn't); to be blunt it's not the "WOW!!" game that everyone was expecting, far from it; the game engine could be much better (don't get me wrong, they progressed with it, in the stability department -- I have had far fewer CTD with Fallout 4 and Skyrim SE than I had with any of their previous games -- but still it's an heavy engine that has too high a cost in resources for the graphics it generates), the story was too superficial and common -- the premise is a simple reversal of Fallout 3 in fact the parent going after their son instead of the child going after their father --, the Radiant system too "in your face" even if the exploration which is still one of the most prevalent and good aspect, a pillar truly, of any Bethesda game is still there.

When a company sees that the goodwill of their customers is starting to go what can they do? They attempt to stabilize things, maybe by offering some incentive to keep customers happy or at least to lessen their disappointment right? A free DLC, something like that. What did Bethesda do? They came up with the Creation Club... And there the goodwill went seriously down the drain. Then there was the re-release of Skyrim in its 64 bits version (with the exact same bugs than it's older brother) with the announcement that there wouldn't be a TES 6 for several years, that Starfield is "a work in progress" but nobody really knows squat about it and then finally when they decided to release a game it was Fallout 76 that really came out of nowhere with the Atom market included -- like a quickly decided and designed stop gap waiting for Starfield to be done and really mostly a cash grab because after all Fallout 4 wasn't the overwhelming success they expected at least among fans' reviews (it was a commercial success because the game sold on its name alone but after the users reviews came, everyone could see that the welcome was less than lukewarm).

And now Bethesda, that has too often banked on the goodwill of their customers to cover their many blunders discovers that there's no goodwill left any longer. They thought that enough goodwill was remaining so the suckers customers wouldn't jump at their throat and they were seriously wrong. Seriously to the point the only persons saying good things about Fallout 76 and Bethesda are the small core of fanboys that don't give a crap if a game is lame as long as it's Bethesda stamped. Seriously to the point that lawyers are thinking about a class-action lawsuit which is also linked to their refund policy (the game being only sold by Bethesda and retailers). Seriously to the point that Bethesda didn't even planned for the backlash and the more they talk the more they are burying themselves in the ground with every new day and every new announcement and attempted response to the problem.

One thing is sure. if Bethesda wants to reverse course and regain some of the goodwill that vanished over Fallout 4, the Creation Club and Fallout 76 their next game -- that should be Starfield -- will have to be nothing short of PERFECT and amazing. Minimal bugs and amazing quality/performance ratio, great universe, splendid story, astounding handmade quests with no radiant idiocy, splendid NPC and characters interactions, all that in the same package. Anything less and at some point the question will have to be asked if there will even be a TES 6.

The good news here is that they just need to take a step back and do what they did before, in short do what they were the best at up to and including Skyrim. Being less technically crappy in the engine "performance/quality" department would definitely be a plus and being much lighter on bugs would also be sweet. But right now engine and bugs are not even the most pressing problem. The real problem for Bethesda is that a company doesn't want to stand there with a thing like Fallout 76 hanging over their head for the three or four years to come. They need to release a VERY GOOD SINGLE PLAYER OPEN WORLD RPG that can be played as one wants, when one wants and as modded as one wants.

That's really the only thing the Bethesda fanbase wants and sadly, Bethesda seems these past years to have forgotten that and focused on much more debatable practices and ideas.

So Bethesda Game Studios, stop bullshitting people with the pitiful damage control you're trying to do on Fallout 76 (which feels more like "we don't know what we're doing so let's panic"). Multiplayer games? NOT YOUR THING! So now just focus on what is really your thing, and do it good, and do it preferably faster than you are used too because until the next release people (your CUSTOMERS) will be left with the contemplation of Fallout 76. You really want to get rid of the "our last game is rated 2.9/10 by our users -- and barely average by professional reviewers) as fast as possible.

The thing is, Bethesda Softworks as a publisher has other IPs allowing them to cater to different gamers' tastes... Rage, Prey, Wolfenstein, DooM... So why not just leave Bethesda Game Studios the Hell alone, developing what we expect them to develop?

Fallout 76... Was it just greed talking? Is it worth it? Because right now... I think you've got a flamethrower in your face. And the guys holding it are not happy.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:17:07 PM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Doc_Brown

  • Forums Keeper
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 460
  • Weaver of Tales
Re: The elephant in the room (or the grenade in the shitter)
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2018, 09:18:22 PM »
It gets even worse with the ongoing snafu surrounding the Power Armor edition of the game (the opening of this video sums it up nicely).  While software can be something of a murky area as far as legal action is concerned, false advertising of physical merchandise seems to be a pretty open-and-shut case.  We've seen some boneheaded moves from developers/publishers in recent history, but this might take the cake.
Roads?  Where we're going we don't need roads.

Offline Starfox

  • Master Keeper
  • Totally Awesome Member - Won A Cookie!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2456
  • Did anybody see my lenses?
    • The Foxhole
Re: The elephant in the room (or the grenade in the shitter)
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2018, 11:17:28 AM »
About the bag from the Power Armor edition, you gotta appreciate the very first answer consumers got. "The bag in the pictures was a prototype but was costing too much to make so we decided to go for a cheaper option. We don't plan do do anything about it".

What kind of company says that? So yeah after that Bethesda came and said "well, the guy who said that is an intern, he wasn't really working for us. Officially we apologize, we're sorry for the inconvenience and offer 500 atoms to each affected customers". Translation: we give you each $5 in false money that you can only spend in our online store and be happy with that. Oh, and by the way, if you accept this generous "gift" you abandon your right -- as by law -- to sue us in the future because you accepted an "amicable settlement" of the issue. Hey, it's not like if the Power Armor edition cost $200 anyway. No it didn't, it cost $199.99 and we're not sorry about that.

Oh, and I almost forgot their other most funny excuse... "The bag couldn't be manufactured due to a shortage of material"... Wait... What? There's a worldwide shortage of canvas and no one told me... It's the end of the world people!  :funup:

Bethesda... early Christmas gift for any lawyer. They keep on giving.

It's like they went to a Summer Boot Camp organized by Electronic Arts and Activision with a seminar on the thousands ways to f... the customers and they decided to improve the methods by a factor of a hundred. At least we know now who's in the starting block for the next "Worst Company in America" award. EA must be ecstatic... finally, someone else to take the heat. Thanks Bethesda!

But I agree, this whole affair about the bag and the Power Armor Edition is certainly the most legally threatening for Bethesda right now. I imagine the FTC could easily fall on them if they are so inclined like they already fell on the whole loot boxes phenomenon.

The quality of the game itself is another matter not so cut and dry. Still it may well means that the pre-orders for their next game will be near zero and that most people will wait reviews and patches before buying the game, IF they decide to buy it at all.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2018, 11:24:03 AM by Starfox »


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein

Offline Starfox

  • Master Keeper
  • Totally Awesome Member - Won A Cookie!
  • *****
  • Posts: 2456
  • Did anybody see my lenses?
    • The Foxhole
Re: The elephant in the room (or the grenade in the shitter)
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2018, 09:44:14 AM »
Is Bethesda trying to perform Seppuku in public? I mean at this point I don't really know anymore. A few days ago Bethesda finally decided to issue to owners of the Power Armor Edition the bags that were promised -- why I don't really know, possibly because they didn't want the hassle of a class action lawsuit. Then they asked owners of the PAE to log into their support website to claim their replacement bag and then... then the support tickets appeared publicly with the name, details and credit card type of the said users.

At this point that becomes really hilarious. They try to fix properly a decision that they shouldn't have taken in the first place, but doing so they generate another bigger issue. It's like if they adapted the philosophy of their game patches to their business... You know the "we fix it but break a bunch of other things at the same time" way. Bethesda stated that no card number was displayed but sorry... the display of users names and personal details is already bad enough as it is. And it's not like if they were hacked... Everything points to a website badly programmed.

The only thing missing is "Power Armor Edition helmet badly manufactured... A user died suffocated"  ::)


Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein