I’m a longtime fan of the Fallout video game series, so naturally I was excited for Fallout 76 when Bethesda Game Studios released it last year. That excitement soon turned to frustration due to the game’s historically wonky start. Fallout 76 had so many problems and glitches that an entire cottage industry of reviewers and streamers documenting them sprang up. Most now agree that it was one of the most bungled game releases in history.
Despite that, I continued playing… and over time, the game got better. To Bethesda’s credit, they fixed the glitches (which sometimes led to the creation of new glitches). Most importantly, they listened to consumers, and acted on those consumer complaints.
For the last year, I’ve logged on for a few hours most evenings. Sometimes I play alone. Sometimes I play with a group consisting of authors Asher Ellis, Matt Hayward, and Mehitobel Wilson, Bel’s partner Sean, pop culture dealer ‘Miss Muffintop’, and various other wastelanders (indeed, Mary giggles that I’ve amassed a ragtag army of real-world steelworkers, mechanics, call center operators, active duty military, fast food workers, and others in game, all of whom I occasionally team-up with). Over time, I’ve seen a consistent improvement in the game’s mechanics.
Yesterday at E3, Todd Howard (the head of Bethesda Game Studios) addressed the controversies and glitches head on during their presentation, and he did something unfathomable — he admitted to them all, took responsibility for them all, and apologized for them.
In an era where Facebook is literally spying on users and Amazon has banned authors like Kelli Owen (not for objectionable material, but for a technical glitch) with no resolution going on three months now — imagine if Mark Zuckererg acknowledged “Yep, we’ve been spying” or if Jeff Bezos contacted Kelli and apologized for the error? It would never happen. Not from these new oligarchs.
And yet, there was Todd Howard on stage yesterday, doing that very thing. And this morning, the Fallout player community is responding positively. I expect a surge in new consumers paying to use his product this week as a result. And that’s a sales trick these tech oligarchs could learn from.
If you’re one of the new players, you might run across me (if you’re a fan of THE RISING or my other books, then you’ll recognize my gamer tag if our paths cross).