On the last day of 2013, Bethesda finally succeeded in pulling distribution rights to the Black Isle Fallout games from the stubborn, emaciated fingers of an unrecognisable Interplay. For dramatic purposes, it’s best to imagine it happened at the stroke of midnight with a clink of champagne glasses - rather than at the stroke of 3:59PM GMT, when Pete Hines was still munching triumphantly at his morning muesli.
The triumph had turned sour by the time it trickled down to buyers, however. The rights switcheroo has seen the Fallout series divorced from GOG, where it more than once occupied the front page. The games have similarly disappeared from Steam - but Bethesda have pledged to return them under new management.
Bethesda tweeted yesterday evening that they’re already in contact with Valve about re-perching Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics on their rightful pedestals in the Steam store, “at the earliest date possible”.
We’re working to return classic @Fallout games (1, 2, Tactics) to Steam and will provide an update when they’re ready to go.
— Bethesda Softworks (@Bethblog) January 2, 2014
Committed anti-DRM types aren’t likely to be so lucky, however. Asked about the likelihood of the Fallouts returning to GOG, Bethesda replied: “Our priority right now is returning the games to Steam”.
Despite their back catalogue of fine ‘90s RPGs, Bethesda don’t have an existing relationship with GOG - and that’s surely not for want of trying on the distributor’s part. More likely, then, that the Fallout games will live exclusively on Steam and in series collections like the Elder Scrolls Anthology.
“These titles have been with us since day one, that is for over 5 years now, and they were always one of the highlights of the selection of games that we offer,” said GOG of the series on New Year's Eve. “There are very few titles in the history of computer role-playing games that have had so much impact on the gaming landscape, players' expectations, and even the popular culture.”
Importantly, copies of all three games purchased on both Steam and GOG before the offending date will continue to function as expected - as at least two of the finest Western RPGs ever committed to code. Did any of you lot forget to buy yours?