Welcome back to another installment of my Weekend Edition. Your ever-present host Viggy here to break down what’s been on my mind this week. Down below I’ll be discussing valuable communication lessons business can learn from the recent release of the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A.
As some of you may know, I’m a big Bethesda game studios buff. I’ve been playing their games since well before I was the ‘recommended age.’ This started for me personally way back with Oblivion but I have fond memories of watching my older brothers play Morrowind, and have since familiarized myself with the earlier entries. Now despite my love for the studio, I’m gonna have to throw some flak their way.
Recently the Fallout 76 beta went live for Xbox players. This had been marketed as an opportunity to play the game early, help catch bugs, and bring forward your progress into the full game set to release on November 14th. However, to the surprise of most everyone, when the beta went live we discovered this would not be a continuously running beta.
I personally only discovered this the second day of the beta opening. I logged on the day after launch, having worked hard the previous day to clear my schedule for the next few days. I was greeted with an error message telling me I didn’t currently have credentials. “That’s impossible,” I thought to myself and quickly turned to Google for the answers. That’s when I learned that Bethesda, in an effort to test their multiplayer servers, had actually created limited windows of time where players could access the B.E.T.A.
I understand why they did this, as a studio that doesn’t have much experience with online multiplayer they needed to make sure their servers could handle the load at launch. What I do have an issue with is the way Bethesda communicated this to the pre-order players.
What was originally marketed as “Xbox user’s play the beta a week early,” really became Xbox players enjoy limited access for an extra week. Then to make matters worse, there was no communication about the planned access times! To clarify for some, the requirements to even join the beta required you to give your name, email address, and create a Bethesda.net account (besides just preordering the game). The company had various ways to inform the player base that they would be using a set schedule but instead waited until the very last minute to do so.
Now for the kicker, Bethesda claims they did this to get as many people online at one time as possible in order to test the strain on their servers. I absolutely believe that to be the truth; however, if you’re trying to get as many people online at one time as possible why aren’t you communicating the times! If I had known on day 1 I’d only have a handful of hours to get on, I would have gotten on. Instead, I thought I have the whole week to get on. By not communicating their plans, Bethesda effectively did the exact opposite of their goal. Rather than getting as many people online at one time as possible, they cut out a potential substantial number of players due to being misinformed.
This really irks me, because I love this company, and after getting to play for a small two-hour sliver today I can say I love the game too. However, whoever is running their marketing has failed majorly. Why didn’t you send us an email? Why didn’t you leave us a message on Bethesda.net? Why did you treat this as a secret? If your goal was, “get as many people online as possible,” tell us! I would have gladly shifted my schedule to help you. Instead, you’ve ended up dissatisfying fans, decreasing the trust in your company, and giving yourself a subpar test for the server launch.
So for all future companies, please understand communication is key. Don’t market it one way and pull the rug in another. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this in the first place, and yet somehow we’ve had a successful studio do just that. Bethesda normally has a good reputation as a company that delivers on consumer expectations, but now? Without a doubt, in my mind, this is a stain on that track record.
So that’s my two cents on the game. I can honestly say it’s fun, but not perfect. And that it has much it could improve upon to give it a true Fallout vibe. I could go into more detail, but then this would be a review of the game and I just haven’t gotten my hands on it enough yet to do that.
Did you enjoy this Weekend Edition? Leave a like or share it if you did! If you want me to do a Fallout 76 review in the coming weeks drop a comment down below as well. More content like this can be found under the Weekend Edition category found in the top right. And as always more exclusive content can be found on my Patreon.