Last month, youtuber Luke Stephens posted a theory (linked below) about why Bethesda has taken such a sharp turn away from offline, endlessly customizable games and towards microtransactions and the GaaS mentality. The TLDR version is that their parent company, Zenimax, is likely forcing a move to continuous revenue models in order to maximize their appeal to investors, as well as possibly retaining massive shareholders that may be seeking to leave.
The question then becomes: With 76 crashing and burning, and their community's good will evaporating, what is Bethesda's path forward? I can see a few possibilities, and I'll outline each below.
#1- The Worst Case Scenario: The first possibility is that Bethesda refuses to learn from Fallout 76 and continues to aggressively monetize every element of their future games. They lock all modding behind a paywall for Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 becomes an always online, subscription-only game. The community continues to revile Bethesda, and competitors like CD Projekt and Obsidian begin to take their place in the industry. The games still sell decently, but ultimately are less successful and far less beloved than their classic titles ever were. Most of the talent leaves and the company eventually flounders.
#2- The R* Approach: Rockstar is arguably the only company to solve the riddle of making a thriving GaaS experience while also serving the needs of a massive offline, singleplayer fanbase. The secret? Divide every big release into two distinct and totally separate halves. Singleplayer fans get a traditional, content-rich and highly moddable offline game, while multiplayer fans get to go online and play with their friends in a cooperative and more competitively monetized environment. Nobody complains, because both types of player get exactly what they want. I could absolutely see The Elder Scrolls VI adopting GTAV & RDR2's exact structure, and becoming an enormous hit as a result. This option has the highest risk, being extremely expensive, but also has by far the highest potential reward for Bethesda as a company.
#3- The Mobile Approach: This is where Bethesda initially seemed to be going with Fallout Shelter, and refers to the process of bankrolling your massive, traditional, offline games with the profits from your aggressively monetized mobile titles. Arguably the most simple approach, this allows Bethesda to exploit their IPs by marketing them to a casual audience without betraying the hardcore fans they've worked so hard to cultivate. Sure, Bethesda still looks a little scummy when they're marketing their latest China-exclusive Elder Scrolls mobile game, but everyone collectively holds their noses and is simply thankful that Maryland's output isn't tainted by the process.
#4- The (Impossible) Best Case Scenario: The opposite of option #1. The influential developers at BGS see the harm that the pursuit of continuous revenue has done to their reputation, and exercise their power within the company to the fullest extent. Leadership, against typical corporate logic, decides that they are satisfied with selling 30+ million copies of Bethesda's traditional singleplayer games and allows the Maryland team to have complete control over future projects. The Austin team is tasked with creating New Vegas-style spinoffs to fill the time between Maryland's releases, and the fanbase is ecstatic.
With all that said, which approach do you think is most likely? What alternatives have I missed?
Source: Original link
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