Preface: Companies the size of Bethsoft use reputation management software, they have a team dedicated to this. Bots watch Twitter, Reddit, Facebook – you name it – for mentions of their company, their products and the general feel of their audience. This isn't new or shocking in any way, but keep in mind that this same group of people is carefully crafting the explanations for supposed lore inconsistencies or building preemptive apology letters to an uneasy community, as we've seen today. They want you to know they care. They hired people who went through post-secondary education to learn how to create positive impressions and dampen the impact of anything that paints the company in a negative light. I'm not saying Bethesda is out to lie to you or manipulate you, but you should always keep this in mind and take everything with a grain of salt. Todd Howard isn't addressing a letter to you, his friend and fellow gamer. Bethesda is responding to a growing number of instances that their reputation management software and PR team have deemed requires a company statement in order to swing a consensus back in their favor. This is just how it works. I don't care about lore inconsistencies, but I do reject Bethesda trying to tap into your empathy and forgive them for whatever might go wrong as this wildly successful corporation ventures into "uncharted territory".
Here is why I believe you should too, and I'm hoping some good discussion can happen here.
The meat and potatoes: You are valuable. You should see yourself that way because you are, and you should give a shit when someone or something tries to take advantage of you. When early access came out and was eventually proven to be a successful business model, it signaled to publishers that they could forego a portion of quality assurance testing and pass that responsibility to the end-user. This eventually merged into existing pre-order bonuses, under the guise of early access. You get to pay money before the product is actually delivered and be a part of the quality assurance team. Quality assurance is built into the cost of most products that are brought to market. Consumers expect a polished product by the time it hits shelves. In the games industry, publishers would hire a team of individuals who specialized in pushing engines to their limits, finding exploits and then determining if the issues they found were game-breaking or simply edge-case scenarios. Publishers found an effective way to supplement the cost of a QA team and even get some kickback for it in the form of a pre-order. Genius. Take this however you want, its commonplace and not going away.
Bethesda doesn't need our help. Bethesda needs to invest more money into quality assurance. Bethesda needs to invest into a new engine built with best practices for the current decade that supports a server/client infrastructure inherently. Bethesda needs to have enough integrity to push back release until the product is ready for the market. Regardless of whether "we never asked for an online fallout", or "Bethesda is pandering to the lowest common denominator" or whatever else you agree or disagree with, the bigger issue is this:
Bethesda is skipping important steps in providing a quality product to its users and users are going to bat for them, defending their actions. A publisher the size of Bethesda can absolutely afford a new engine, a proper QA team and a reasonable release date – not one month after a very important Beta run with their player-base. Pete Hines declared proudly a few years ago that Bethesda is not a firm that pushes out yearly releases of their IPs, they take their time and polish their games and release them when they are ready. Fallout 76 is a direct antithesis to something that set them apart from EA, Acti and Ubi. These are huge red flags for an industry that's already filled with blatant anti-consumer practices. You should be doing research and carefully guarding your $60. A lot of us work very hard at jobs where we don't have the option of getting paid in full for halfway completing something. Your use of your money lets a company know whether or not they can get away with it.
The developers, writers, programmers, art team and directors likely do pour their heart into their work. But the top brass make the wheels turn at the speed they do and choose where cuts get made. Buy the game or don't, I hope you enjoy it, I hope it exceeds expectations, I love this franchise. But you are not toxic for treading carefully at these obvious warning signs – all of which allude to anti-consumer practices. You are toxic if you make it personal with people who disagree with you or contribute the circle-jerk blanket statements. There are many valid reasons to dislike the game. They are valid and valuable in this community if stated constructively. I believe there is a strong case to be made that Bethesda is venturing into anti-consumer territory, expecting users to compensate for or be patient with mistakes that could have been prevented with a proper investment in quality assurance, a new engine, consulting from the numerous development firms who have been creating games with similar scale for years, and delaying release long enough to actually resolve and polish the inevitable massive list of bugs that the beta will reveal. I hope some good discussion can come from this, and I'm open to any and all different opinions so long as they're constructive.
Thanks for reading.
© Post "[Serious] Fallout 76 From a Business Perspective (or “You are entitled to a finished product, and it doesn’t make you inherently toxic.”)" for game Fallout.
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