Bethesda Director and Executive Producer Todd Howard admitted Fallout 76 would have “difficulties” when it launched, but he also noted that the fans love these games and their feedback is important to Bethesda.
Fallout 76 was plagued with bugs upon launch and received a Metacritic user Score of 2.6 based on 4140 reviews.
Not only did they face technical issues at launch, but they faced a PR disaster when they decided to give gamers who ordered the $200 Power Armor Edition a nylon bag instead of the promised canvas bag.
It would get worse from there. When gamers tried to create support tickets in order to get their canvas bags, a number of gamers’ private information was exposed to other gamers through the ticket system. The private information included customers’ email and home addresses as well as their credit cards they used to purchase the Power Armor edition.
In an interview with IGN, Howard addressed Fallout 76’s reception.
“We knew we were gonna have a lot of bumps. That’s a difficult development, a lot of new systems and things like that. ‘Hey we’re gonna try this new thing.’ Anytime you’re gonna do something new like that, you know you’re gonna have your bumps. You know that a lot of people might say ‘That’s not the game we want from you.’ But we still want to be somebody who’s trying new things, and that was a very difficult, difficult development on that game to get it where it was- and we were ready for, y’know. We were ready for… A lot of those difficulties ended up on the screen, and we knew ‘Hey look, this is not the type of game people are used to from us and we’re gonna get some criticism on it.’ And a lot of that very well deserved criticism.”
IGN interviewer Ryan McCaffrey then notes that Howard and Bethesda had been on a big winning streak. Howard interjects noting he expected the game would not get high Metacritic reviews, but it was a game that he wanted to play.
“We knew that going into this, we knew it was not that, right? We would say ‘Look, this isn’t a game- even from the beginning- this isn’t a game like high Metacritic Game. This isn’t what this is, given what it is. But we knew, we felt strongly that this was a game we wanted to play, this is something we really want to do. And all of the games like this, whether it’s us or somebody else, you can go back and look at them. There’s a period once you launch, it’s not how you launch, it’s what it becomes. Y’know I can’t be prouder of the team that’s worked on it, they’ve worked tirelessly and its really turned around- it’s a fabulous game and an incredibly community around it.”
When asked if there was a strategy to win gamers back after the poor reception, Howard responded:
“I think- well there’s no strategy other than just keep making the game better. And people will play it and they’ll come back and it was, by the way it was very popular. It was a huge release for us, the community around it is really really strong. Obviously it got a lot of criticism and stories, and we see all that. You don’t want to read that, but it is what it is. Again, we deserved a lot of that. It’s just working the issues like ‘Hey what do the consumers want? What do we want? How do we get there?’ This is a very long tale for us and this game. And there’s some awesome stuff coming this year that I think people are gonna see at E3, and be hopefully very excited.”
Howard goes on to state that he does read all the reviews and even reads the comments. He states:
“We’ve experienced it all, right? We’ve had the games that hit the high 90s and win all the games of the years and we have the ones that don’t as well. That kind of comes with territory. I think it’s part of the job to read all that. Whereas I don’t always like the grammar or adjectives they use. I think the intent – even a very mean spirited comment from a fan – I think the intent behind that is actually well meaning. They love these games and they are super important to them. And they are important to us. And I think you have to dig into that and say, ‘Okay. Where could we have done better?'”
As for what his main takeaway from the negative reaction to Fallout 75, Howard explained:
“Well, the main takeaway we had was you got to let it bake with a large live audience for longer than we did. There is certain things you can never see until its running 24/7 for a number of months. If there is one thing I think I would have done differently is find a way to let at scale people be playing the game 24/7 before you say, ‘Everybody in. Here you go pay us.'”
Howard then noted that he does believe the games launch has had some lasting damage to Bethesda and Fallout’s reputation.
“I’m sure it’s had some. It would be naive to say it’s had zero, right? But I think if people come to the game now and see what’s going on there, I think they will be surprised. I’m really really proud of what everybody’s done on the game.”
Howard would also clarify his comments about the problems he expected going into Fallout 76 indicating almost all online games have problems on launch day.
“You can take most popular online games and go back to day zero. They are going to go through their problems. And you are seeing that kind of across the industry. That’s the part we knew going in. No matter what we do we were going to have some problems. We need to make sure we are ready to continue that momentum from before release right through.”
What do you make of Todd Howard’s comments regarding the Fallout 76 launch? Are you still playing on Fallout 76? Do you plan on checking back into the game?