Fallout 76 not launching on Steam could hurt its chances this year


Fallout 76 is one of the biggest video games coming out this year, no doubt.

This is the latest instalment in the Fallout franchise, and with its predecessor Fallout 4 selling boatloads of copies across all platforms when it launched back in 2015, people are surely expecting great things from Bethesda’s upcoming game.

But it’s likely many video game fans couldn’t help but be shocked when Bethesda said earlier this month that the PC version of Fallout 76 would be skipping Steam, and releasing instead on Bethesda.net, the company’s own digital platform.

This is because Steam is the world’s most popular online distribution platform for games, and many people won’t purchase a game unless it’s released on it, for good or ill. Also, while Steam has many millions of users, Bethesda’s own platform is much less known worldwide, meaning it surely is not as trusted by gamers as the tried and tested Steam client is…

Although clearly there’s a reason behind Bethesda’s move, likely the same one Fortnite creators epic had for skipping Google Play for the Android launch of their mega-popular multiplayer game, as one Forbes contributor pointed out.

That is, avoiding the 30 % cut that Google (and Steam company Valve too) take for offering a video game on their platform, something that makes sense taking into account both games are expected to generate millions of dollars in profits.

The thing is, skipping Steam for Bethesda.net is something that could hurt Fallout 76’s chances of success this year, no matter how you look at it.

I and probably many others would prefer to stick to Steam for my video game purchases, as this is a tried and tested, secure platform which I have no problem dealing with. Plus, Steam’s solid refund policy is always a bonus.

It’s also inconvenient having to juggle multiple video game launchers at once, and between Steam, Electronic Arts’ Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay, PC gamers surely have plenty to keep track of.

This means some could decide to skip Fallout 76 now that it’s been confirmed it won’t be launching on Steam like 2015’s Fallout 4 did. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the game might come out on Steam later on, as it has happened with other high profile games in the past.

There’s something else, though, that could keep some people away from Fallout 76 aside of it being confined to Bethesda.net. This is because Fallout 76, unlike the earlier Fallout 4, won’t offer a traditional single player experience like the previous game did.

Rather, it will be an online multiplayer game. This means there won’t be any human non-player characters roaming about (rather it will be humans only, surely acting “out of character” as can be expected). There will be computer-controlled robots whom players will be getting quests from, though. How interesting these NPCs will be is something that remains to be seen.

At least designer Todd Howard has promised Fallout 76’s West Virginia will be four times bigger than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth, while this new game will also offer a far higher level of graphical detail than its predecessors did.

Plus, you’ll also be able to nuke other player’s bases, which surely is something many people will be looking forward to no doubt come the game’s release date this November.

But still, Fallout 76 skipping Steam and launching instead on Bethesda’s platform, plus the online nature of the game makes this something of a gamble for the Maryland-based company. Here’s hoping, though, that none of this matters in the end, and that Fallout 76 ends up being as engaging an experience as previous games in the series have been when it debuts this fall.