Todd Howard should just post his nudes already

Y’know, despite my past intentions to get a job as a legitimate “gaming journalist” (a term that is almost meaningless nowadays), I rarely actually follow gaming news. Anyone who’s taken even a cursory glance at this blog can figure out my journalistic style: Make a small, silly observation and blow it up to ridiculous proportions. That seems to have worked out pretty well for me so far, so I’ve never felt the need to keep up with game stories that I wasn’t personally involved in.

And yet, there is one piece of games-related news I have indeed been keeping up with lately — and it’s somehow managed to get much bigger and far more astonishingly stupid than anything I could ever concoct on my own.

If you’re reading this article, I doubt that I need to tell you all of the problems that have arisen since the release of Fallout 76. That said, there’s been such an unrestrained torrent of fuckery in the last two months that I’ve literally been keeping a list in one of my notebooks just to keep track of it all, so let’s review anyway to make sure we’re all up to speed. I’ll also be linking some sources whenever I can, because this shit is so bananas it will legit look like I’m making some of it up if I don’t.

As of this writing, the following has been executed, orchestrated, or approved of by Bethesda:

  • Bethesda announces Fallout 76 at E3 2018. (source)
    • A beta is promised before release, while acknowledging Bethesda’s history of buggy games.
      • A pre-order was required to participate. (source)
      • Available pre-orders included the $200 Power Armor edition.
  • Opened up the beta on 10/23 for Xbox One and 10/30 for PS4 and PC users
    • However, the release date is 11/14 of the same year. This is literally just early access.
    • The “beta” is only available during certain windows of time on certain days. (source)
    • The game is clunky and feedback is generally very mixed among players and reviewers.
  • Fallout 76 is released on 11/14.
    • The game is just plain broken and unfinished all around in addition to generally poor design decisions (source).
      • Many, MANY users are getting randomly disconnected — which fails to save your progress. (source)
      • Others get stuck in infinite load screens. (source)
      • Some enemies constantly regenerate health and can’t be killed by any means. (source)
      • Enemies also sometimes load in places where you can’t harm them or are invisible — but of course they can still harm you! (source)
    • The game earns a Metacritic score so bad that it’s almost impressive. (source)
    • In the midst of all this, Bethesda also confirms it’s going to continue using its outdated Creation Engine on The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield (source). Because things are going so swimmingly with Fallout 76 they see no reason to change, I suppose.
  • Multiple problems with the $200 Power Armor collector’s edition.
    • Most of those that pre-ordered directly from Bethesda got theirs late — some as late as a week after release. (source)
    • $55 was charged for UPS shipping, but it was actually sent USPS Parcel Post. (source)
    • Most notoriously, the promised canvas bag was changed to a nylon bag. (source)
      • This switch was never communicated to pre-order holders. It literally fits basically all of the legal requirements for false advertising and/or bait-and-switch. (source)
      • One response from the Bethesda store support stated that the original promised in photos and pre-order pages “was a prototype” and “too expensive” to manufacture. (source)
      • Bethesda promptly threw this support tech under the bus and instead claimed that the canvas was “unavailable.” (source)
      • Yet it was suspiciously available for Bethesda to make nice bags for media influencers that got to play early versions of the game. (source)
      • Bethesda offers 500 Atoms ($5’s worth of microtransaction currency) as compensation, which isn’t even enough to get an IN-GAME canvas bag. (source)
    • Bethesda FINALLY agrees to replace bags and sets up a page for CE customers to submit their information to receive one. (source)
      • However, this page was set up so quickly and thoughtlessly that all that customer information was quickly leaked to other customers via access to other people’s tickets. (source)
      • No additional compensation is offered for this data leak.
      • To add a little more salt in the wound, the replacement bags will take about 6 months to manufacture and ship. (source)
  • Bethesda implements a no-refunds policy that is especially dickish to PC users. (source)
    • Fallout 76 is hosted on Bethesda’s personal website rather than Steam, exempting them from Steam’s policy of having to give refunds. (source)
    • Per Bethesda’s policy, PC users forfeit the right to a refund by virtue of simply having downloaded the game at all. Even without having played it (and thus having no way to determine if a refund would be needed), the chance at a refund is completely waived. (source)
      • Which is illegal in some countries, particularly in Europe.
    • Requests to the site for refunds were met with refusals or simply no response.
      • Which prompted a class-action lawsuit. (source)
      • One user was promised a refund, but then that promise was immediately broken. (source)
    • Then out of nowhere, Bethesda does begin issuing some refunds, but inconsistently and with no visibly consistent standards. (source)
  • Due to abysmal sales, Fallout 76 immediately goes on sale after only one week.
    • Fallout 76 sales are more than 80% lower than those of Fallout 4. (source)
    • The price drops to around 50%, depending on the retailer. (source)
    • And even as cheap as 76% off from CD Keys. (source)
    • This is essentially punishing their most loyal fans, who paid the full price up-front or pre-ordered.
    • Disgruntled players who voice their complaints are (again) offered 500 Atoms as compensation for their ripoff. (source)
    • Sales are so bad that rumors circulate that the game may go free-to-play, which would only further punish the most loyal fans that paid $60-$200. (source)
      • Not to mention opening the game up to even more shitty business practices.
  • Bethesda tries to appear sympathetic with users not enjoying the game while also bragging that so many people are enjoying it. (source)
    • And then update the game not to fix bugs, but to make the game more of a grind. (source)
  • An astute player discovers that Bethesda copied code directly out of Fallout 4 and Skyrim for Fallout 76. (source)
    • Which I guess explains the fact that the game has a fucking DRAGON.
  • Fallout 76 had no real means of reporting harassment from other gamers, forcing one user to attempt contact via Twitter. (source)
    • Bethesda did respond and directed the player to a harassment reporting page on their site, which required a video to be attached. However, the page also didn’t allow video filetypes to be selected for said attachment, rendering itself useless. (source.)
    • Bethesda stepped up and banned the offending players. (source)
      • However, this has led to criticism for the lack of a warning system prior to a permanent ban.
  • The game contained no option for ultra-wide monitor settings at release. (source)
    • Due to screen stretching and resulting input lag, the game was borderline unplayable on this type of monitor. (source)
    • Players came up with a temporary fix themselves. (source)
    • Bethesda finally releases the “fix,” but it turns out to be exactly the same as the bandaid players had come up with much earlier. (source)
  • The Atomic Shop, Fallout 76‘s in-game microtransaction store, is one of the most egregious demonstrations of corporate greed the world of gaming has ever seen. (source)
    • Atoms, the Atomic Shop currency, reflects real money at a rate of 100 atoms to $1 USD. (source)
    • Prices are astronomical, charging as much as $18 to simply change the color of your character’s power armor. (source)
    • In-game items from Fallout 4 (which, by definition, were free in that game) are absent from Fallout 76 to be resold in the Atomic Shop for outrageous prices. (source)
    • Time-limited holiday items were added with fake “sale” prices: An emote pack “originally” $24 but “on sale” for $12 and a pair of Santa suits “originally” $30 but “on sale” for $20. (source)
      • These items were never in the Atomic shop at their alleged full prices, suggesting that the “sale” prices are the actual intended prices set up to look like a bargain. (source)
      • Which, if that’s the case, is also illegal. (source)
      • When the “sale” expired, the “discounted” prices were the ones that remained, not the so-called “original” prices. In other words, Bethesda themselves proved that the sale was fake. (source)
      • To top it off, the emotes pack didn’t even have custom animations, just new .jpgs to display above the character. This, of course, was never disclosed to the buyer. (source)
    • Investigation into one of the updates found code suggesting that lunchboxes (the Fallout version of loot boxes) may eventually being added. (source)
      • Which was fine back in Fallout Shelter, because 1) it was free, and 2) it was single-player. (source)
      • The code in Fallout 76, on the other hand, suggests lunchboxes will implement predatory pay-to-win practices. (source)
  • Bethesda begins banning Fallout 76 players for using mods, allegedly to prevent cheating. (source)
    • BANS FOR USING MODS. IN FUCKING FALLOUT. BETHESDA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
    • Bethesda’s official stance on mods was that they’re “not recommended,” but never stated that they were against the rules.
    • Datamining revealed that the game actively scans for Cheat Engine, regardless of whether it’s being used for an unfair advantage or to improve visuals and functionality. (source)
    • Banned players can attempt to get unbanned by writing an essay about why cheating is bad. (source)
      • Which Bethesda promptly denies, then immediately confirms again, then disregards entirely. (source)
  • Perhaps as an apology for all the shenanigans (who knows, because Bethesda never actually apologizes for anything), Fallout 76 players will receive 3 free Fallout games, regardless of what platform you’re playing on. (source)
    • However, it’s Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics, rather than the far more popular Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4. (source)
    • Which is… fine? I mean sure they’re also great games, but if given a choice, most players who’re playing Fallout 76 would’ve opted for the latter group.
    • Furthermore, this was originally a pre-order bonus for PC users, so this really just dilutes the value of either the pre-order or the ‘apology,’ depending on how you look at it. (source)
    • And to add a little more insult, the original set was available for only $2.50 each or $6.00 for the collection on Steam at that same time. (source)
  • Bethesda produces another tie-in promotional item for the series: Nuka Dark cola-flavored rum. (source)
    • The product page advertises it as sharing “the same look as the other bottles of Nuka-Cola but a black color and a simplistic label,” drawing the attention of both Fallout fans and liquor bottle collectors. (source)
    • Each bottle costs $80 (actually $100 after taxes and shipping).
    • The product was supposed to be released at the same time as the game, but saw repeated delays, allegedly due to maintaining high standards. (source)
      • Eventually promised to at least arrive before Christmas, but many didn’t even make that deadline.
    • A video is finally released showing the rum being bottled and sent for delivery. It is here that it’s revealed that the bottle does not at all have the iconic rocket-shape like other Nuka Cola bottles, but is instead a standard bottle in a plastic casing. (source)
      • This critically important detail was never disclosed. It’s literally the canvas bag situation all over again.
    • Buyers are understandably outraged, as this in no way justifies the $100 price tag, since the bottle isn’t special and if they just wanted rum they could’ve gotten it for a lot cheaper. (source)
    • To top it all off, the bottle can’t pour the drink properly (source) and the actual rum tastes like garbage (source).
    • Silver Screen Bottling releases an apology, whereas Bethesda says absolutely nothing.
      • Unfortunately the “apology” doesn’t really apologize at all and in fact just doubles down on the design, along with a monumental amount of backpedaling. (source)
      • They claim that it was always the plan to have the plastic case so that it would be “in a vault of its own.” They also claim that it would’ve been cheaper to do a custom glass bottle.
      • Even if all of that is true (which it obviously isn’t), it would only show that they’re so stupid that they spent twice as much money on something that their buyers did not want in the least.
  • Fallout 76‘s nukes, one of the few end game goals, stopped working as of January 1, 2019. (source)
    • This game came out in mid-November. They spent so little time programming it that they didn’t think about what would happen when the year changed in only SIX WEEKS.
    • The nukes are one of the major draws of the game. They were even hyped up in the initial E3 reveal! THIS IS ONE OF THE MAJOR FEATURES OF THE GAME HOW DID YOU GUYS FUCK UP EVEN THIS?!

And it hasn’t even been 2 months since Fallout 76 released. Hell, it’s taken me over a week to make this list just because going back and finding all the sources has been so time-consuming, and more stuff happened in the meantime!

At this point, there’s really only one valid explanation for all this: EA has Todd Howard’s nudes and is blackmailing him into running Fallout 76 into the ground. Think about it: Bethesda has everything to lose by behaving this way, and who would benefit more from such a tragic fall than EA, the publisher equivalent of Satan’s left testicle? Fallout 76‘s mishaps have gone way beyond the scope of simple naivety. If this had simply been a case of Bethesda misreading their audience, the current atmosphere of the AAA games industry, and international trade laws, rest assured that they would’ve slammed on the brakes a long time ago. Instead they’ve doubled down on their anti-consumer practices, repeatedly engaged in false advertising, shown more commitment to making their product less enjoyable than to making it more playable, and given their most die hard and long-time fans the finger while also asking them for even more money. What more evidence could we possibly need that EA is pulling Bethesda’s strings?

And so I call upon you, Todd Howard, to just post your nudes and get it over with. Sure, leaked nudes are a scandal, but the pain and embarrassment of people seeing your wang can’t possibly do any more damage than you’ve already done yourself. For fuck’s sake, your fans have gone from calling you God Howard to Todd Coward! If anything, admitting you were blackmailed into this nonsense would probably IMPROVE your image, because at least then there’d be a logical explanation for how such a respected and beloved company could turn to the dark side more rapidly than Anakin Skywalker. Just grit your teeth and post your nudes already; it’s the only way to end EA’s power over you.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I do not own Bethesda, Fallout, or Fallout 76. Much to my relief, to be honest.

All the credit in the WORLD goes to all of those writers and Youtubers I cited in the bullet list. There were a LOT of you in there, and tracking you all back down was not an easy feat!! Special thanks go out to YongYea, as his videos following this controversy are what got me following this story in the first place.

Additional special thanks and also an apology to a couple more sources out there that I never was able to find again. Trying to sort through the deluge of media I’ve consumed over the last 6 weeks regarding this dumpster fire took me a week and a half and I still came out only 98% successful. If I ever find your videos again, I’ll add them to this article after the fact!

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About Leedzie

Leda "Leedzie" Clark is a writer and game designer with a sharp eye for detail and a kooky sense of humor. She's been a nerd as long as she can remember, and always seems to notice the wrong thing first in any given situation.

Posted on January 10, 2019, in Developers, Video Games and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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