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Fallout 76 won’t be on Steam because Bethesda wants a ‘direct relationship’ with players

If you tuned into the Fallout 76 panel during QuakeCon Saturday via Twitch, chances are you saw a lot of people in chat typing variations of “No Steam, no buy.” They were reacting to news that Fallout 76 won’t be available through Steam, and you’ll need to use Bethesda’s own launcher to play the game.

Bethesda’s vice president of global marketing Pete Hines addressed the issue in a Q&A session with members of the press later on at QuakeCon. He said the decision has to do with the fact that Fallout 76 is an online game, more in the mould of ‘games-as-a-service’ than Bethesda’s traditional single-player titles like Skyrim and Fallout 4.

“We’ve done online games before, we’ve done some games-as-service,” Hines said. “And with [Fallout] 76, it was just really important to us to have that direct relationship with the customer, that didn’t involve somebody else.”

Hines says having PC players all using the Bethesda.net client to play Fallout 76 will give Bethesda a better ability to address issues that inevitably crop up in an online game, and they won’t be caught flat-footed by updates from third party software or architecture like Steam.

“If there’s a problem, if there’s an issue, it’s on us. There’s no guessing,” he said. “There’s no, ‘oh, well somebody else updated something and now our thing doesn’t work and we have to wait to fix it.’”

“It’s our game, it’s our problem, and we can talk to you directly,” Hines said.
While Hines didn’t mention it during the Q&A, another benefit – for Bethesda, at least – is that running Fallout 76 through Bethesda.net means the company won’t need to fork a share of sales profits over to Valve.

But Hines said the move will make it easier for Bethesda to provide customer service, since they’ll be dealing one-on-one with customers and their accounts, rather than through a third party.

“We want to make sure, on PC, that we are providing the best level possible,” he said. “I’m positive we won’t get it all right, but I’m also positive that we know that we’re the ones who will have to fix it and do whatever we have to, and not be influenced by anybody else.”

The Fallout 76 release date is set for November 14, and it will be available on PC exclusively through Bethesda.net.