After one of the most "... what?!" reveals in gaming history, Fallout 76 has struggled to find its footing ever since that first in-depth look back at E3.
Bethesda's decision to take what was first and foremost a darkly humorous post-apocalyptic adventure for solo players had morphed into an always-online faux-MMO; a 32 player, microtransaction-indulging "advancement" of what went before, in a way no one seemed to want.
Still, the company thundered on and admittedly, there are some cool ideas at the game's core, until launch day sales turned out to be disastrous, plummeting to 80% lower than Fallout 4. Now we've hit breaking point, as after two weeks of nothing but complaints and footage of the game barely functioning, Bethesda are being sued under Deceptive Trade Practices by Migliaccio & Rathod LLP. While the firm notes that "minor bugs and glitches are expected with the release of most new games", Bethesda's 56GB patch has only been a "starting point" for player's problems, and as Bethesda appear to be refusing to refund players on PC, they're taking action.
Migliaccio & Rathod note, "Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game’s myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state."
The law firm are asking all players to submit their own experiences, but this seems to directly refer back to an older case from Reddit user ZPKane, who posted about securing a refund over email with Bethesda, only for them to walk that back, leaving him with what is ostensibly, an unfinished product.
Bethesda's first reply to Kane thanked him for getting in touch, but noted they "do not have the ability to begin processing [the] refund" yet. They quickly added there was "nothing to worry about", and they'd "begin processing the refund as soon as [they could]." The email ended saying Bethesda would be back in touch with an update.
Cut to a followup reply, and the new email read "Customers who have downloaded the game are not eligible for a refund. We apologize for the inconvenience."
This snafu seems like the primary catalyst for Migliaccio & Rathod's lawsuit, alongside plenty of other player issues such as the game's server crashing when three nukes were launched at once, but you have to wonder: Where we go from here?
How much should developers be held accountable for buggy software? Is Fallout 76 a tipping point? And if so, is it just for Bethesda, or the industry?
Personally, whilst obviously a lot of hard work and time has gone into creating Fallout 76, there has to be an enforced level of quality control if a game is being sold for a premium price. Bethesda are not a small indie dev on Kickstarter, simple as.