Steam has been the default service for most games, but Bethesda apparently wants to break that stranglehold for its upcoming Fallout title. Both the Fallout 76 beta (that’s B.E.T.A. in FO parlance, which stands for “Break it Early Test Application), and the final game will only be available through Bethesda.net.
The company confirmed this to PC Gamer, stating: “The PC version of Fallout 76, for both the B.E.T.A. and the launch, will be available only via Bethesda.net, not on Steam.” It could be that this is simply a delay — Fallout Shelter was released on Bethesda.net in 2016 and for Steam in March 2017, but Fallout Shelter is also a fairly small (albeit well-executed) mobile game. The Beta — excuse me, B.E.T.A. FAQ also notes that the plan, at this point, is for progress in beta to carry over into the final game.
“Our current plan for the B.E.T.A. is it will be the full game and all your progress is saved for launch. We hope you join us,” the beta FAQ states. Keys are available if you pre-order FOS, which means you’re literally paying to beta test a product. Up to you, of course.
One potentially interesting reason why Bethesda might have taken this step is to lock down how mods are distributed for its own games. Bethesda’s interest in premium (paid) modding goes back years, but the initial Skyrim rollout was various flavors of disastrous. Bethesda’s Creation Club rollout was also initially controversial, with modders complaining about automatic content downloads and fears about paid mods returning to games.
But the problems related to modding are difficult to solve. Some mods for some games are so well-executed and constructed that they absolutely deserve to be treated like paid content, as far as the quality of the work that went into them. But it’s often easy to steal work, credit is slipshod and haphazardly assigned. And few modders have a means of making any money on their creations that are compatible with the base work being the property of the original studio.
Assuming, that is, that any sequel to Fallout 4 is worth playing — something I’m not sure of, given what a wretched RPG the last one was, but obviously we’ve got no intel on any theoretical FO5.