Bethesda's Paid Fallout 76 Membership Is a Bad Idea, and Here's Why
Ever since its release last year, Fallout 76 has been mired in substantial controversy. Whether it lacked materials in the game’s special edition or bugs affecting how players made progress in it, something was getting in the way of fans having a good online Fallout experience.
But now, Bethesda is making waves again -- and not in the best way. The company announced this morning it would offer a Fallout 76 membership, one with several exclusive benefits for either a low monthly payment or a lump sum for a 12-month subscription. Dubbed “Fallout 1st”, the program will reportedly give premium features for those preparing to pay out the nose for it.
While this may sound like a dream come true for Fallout devotees, it resembles a nightmare for everyone else. Fans have sounded off against the plan on social media, considering it to be an overall terrible idea.
And here are some of the reasons why Bethesda should’ve thought things out better:
Fallout 76’s Reputation Is Already Damaged
There are already enough critiques about Fallout 76 to tarnish its reputation. It may have done well sales-wise, but several players have already given up on the game, not fans of its faulty online set-up or limited features. Most of those fans have laughed off the idea of giving Bethesda even more money for an experience that’s already yesterday’s news.
And some believe the services should get added to the game as a way to make those that bought the game feel better about it. Instead, there's a premium fee attached to it. Bethesda didn’t say precisely why it’s set up this way, only that it’s something to “enhance the Fallout 76 experience.” If that were the case, shouldn’t it have just been an update? As an apology?
That brings us to the next thing: the price.
The Cost of a Fallout 76 Membership Is Just Too High
Currently, the Fallout 76 membership program sells for $12.99 a month or $99.99 a year. For that, players get access to “Private Worlds,” or private servers. While this also opens the door to potential group options and maybe even a single-player experience, it’s far from enticing.
The membership also includes a Scrapbox for “unlimited storage for crafting components,” and a survival tent that creates a new “fast travel point,” extra Atoms for spending, a Ranger Armor outfit, and Icons and Emotes. However, that’s it.
Again, it sounds like something that’s right at home for die-hard Fallout devotees who want to play with friends and not be bothered by anyone else. But the price feels incredibly unjustified. Private servers have become standard with most multiplayer games -- and, surprise, some developers don’t charge a dime for them.
What’s more, you can play Fallout 76’s majority of content without spending anything on a membership. These include seasonal events, the game’s take on the Battle Royale theme, and several other things provided through the routine updates.
But if you want to see what’s wrong with this price, let’s look at other services.
Comparing the Membership To Other On-Demand Gaming Services
For the longest time, PlayStation Now dwindled in numbers because its $20-a-month fee was too much for some, even with downloadable PS4 games. Fortunately, Sony recently slashed the price down to $9.99 a month, which is far more reasonable. What’s more, there are three Fallout games on the service -- Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and Fallout: New Vegas. So you’d be paying less to get access to three classic Fallout games without the need for additional add-ons, along with hundreds of other titles.
Then there’s Xbox Game Pass. It sells for $9.99, but it's $14.99 if you couple it with Xbox Live Gold, and you’re able to play hundreds of games however you please. Not to mention, it includes the classic Fallout: New Vegas -- as well as The Outer Worlds, a Fallout-like experience that drops later this week. (And, might we add, without that membership fee.)
Looking between what Fallout 76 offers and the other on-demand services have on hand, it feels like Bethesda’s membership has minimal merit. If any at all.
We understand this plan doesn't work for everyone. And the publisher had to see this criticism coming from a mile away. But at a time when they’re trying to keep up with stiff competition from the likes of The Outer Worlds and other open-world games, tacking on a membership fee is probably the worst thing it could’ve decided on in the end. Hopefully, Bethesda will figure something out a positive way to spin out of this. Otherwise, Fallout 76 might just become the wasteland it’s replicating.