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Fallout 76 won’t launch on Steam so Bethesda can ‘directly serve’ its players

Bethesda said it’s ‘key to us being able to do the best game possible’

Fallout 76 - walking down a tree-lined street
Fallout 76
Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Fallout 76 will do something rare for a PC game: It’s skipping Steam — at least at launch — and will only be available from publisher Bethesda Softworks’ own launcher. According to Bethesda’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, Pete Hines, that’s so the publisher can bypass the middleman and work more directly with players.

“In this particular case, it’s an online game and we felt like when it comes to the PC that being able to directly serve our customers,” Hines said, “and having that one-to-one relationship was hugely important and key to us being able to do the best game possible.”

Bethesda did something similar when it launched Fallout Shelter on PC. The game was only available through the launcher initially, and it took about eight months for Bethesda to bring the game over to Steam.

“We have learned a lot doing other games — this is Bethesda Game Studios’ first online game, it is not Bethesda’s first online game,” Hines explained. “We have been down this road before. We did [The Elder Scrolls Online], and we did ESO only on [], and there are puts and takes for anything that you decide to do, but what we know for sure is if the customer comes directly to us that we have a much better ability to work directly with them on whatever comes up — as opposed to, you know, through Steam, it’s inherent: You have another party involved. You have an issue with something, like we’re having to work with somebody else to figure out your problem, as opposed to: You have a problem? It’s on us to solve, it’s on us to fix. ... There’s nobody else we have to talk to. I don’t have to go to somebody else and say, ‘Well, you have to go contact them about x, y or z.’ We have found that that is really important particularly with an online game.”

Hines didn’t offer a timeframe for when Fallout 76 might come to Steam or even if eventually will. Fallout 76’s beta test will launch in October, and the game will come to PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One in November.

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