Over 20 years ago, a teen was looking forward to the release of Fallout 2. One problem, however: He couldn’t afford the game, and based on a conversation with his parents, the prospects of getting it for Christmas seemed grim. So, he did what any desperate fan might do. He contacted the developer, Black Isle, directly.
To his surprise, the gambit worked — famed developer Feargus Urquhart himself responded with a free copy of the classic role-playing game. The twist is that the fan did get Fallout 2 for Christmas, too, so he ended up with two copies of the game. He wasn’t even sure the game could run on his computer, which was hardly top of the line. He ended up giving the extra copy to a neighbor who also played games.
Fast-forward to 2019. Black Isle is no more, but some of the biggest names behind the storied developer are now at Obsidian, the studio behind the newly released The Outer Worlds. As a joke, the fan — who goes by tuxedojack on Reddit — decided to try his luck once more. This time, tuxedojack noted that while he was excited to play the game, he was bummed to have to wait for a year for the game to stop being exclusive on the Epic Games Store. It was all in jest, as he had actually already bought a copy of The Outer Worlds. He wasn’t actually expecting a response at all.
The support ticket, which was obtained by Polygon, reads in full:
In 1998, Feargus Urquhart sent me a copy of Fallout 2 because I emailed Black Isle and said my parents couldn’t afford to buy it for me. That’s a real thing that happened (and a super weird story in retrospect). Now, 20+ years later as a tax paying adult, I am ready, willing and able to spend money on the latest title from my absolute favorite developers — and it’s exclusive on PC to the Epic Games Store for a fucking YEAR? Dude this suuuuuucks. I’ve invested thousands of dollars into my Steam library, and I really don’t want to have to download the Epic launcher. Please don’t make me.
Mr. Urquhart — if I repay my debt to you from 1998, can we somehow reduce that exclusivity wait? I can paypal you immediately for F2 — plus interest from the last 21 years.
To tuxedojack’s surprise, not only did he get a response, Urquhart got involved once more, Obsidian confirmed to Polygon. tuxedojack forwarded a copy of the email to Polygon, where a customer support representative says they shared the anecdote with the powers that be:
Thank you for reaching out to us! So I talked with Feargus and he asked me to respond with this:
That is amazing that you remember that, and I’m glad that you did. I think I’m going to “help you out” again. Here’s a key to the Epic Game Store for The Outer Worlds. I’m not saying this is a challenge or anything, but what will you do?
[An Epic Game Store key followed.]
All the best,
The answer, as it turns out, was to give the code out on Reddit, where the thread sharing the story went viral. While there’s been some pushback on the forum, tuxedojack tells Polygon that he just wanted to see if the folks at Obsidian remembered the exchange from back in 1998. The Epic Games Store stuff wasn’t truly a problem — after all, he had already bought the game. He wasn’t truly expecting a free game or a response.
Tuxedojack says he’s thoroughly enjoying the RPG, where he’s playing as a character with high persuasion and lock picking. More than anything, though, the story is a testament to Obsidian’s temperament as a studio. It would have been easy to ignore the support ticket, given that the fan wasn’t actually having an issue with his game. It would have especially been easy to ignore an email from a fan asking for a free game, even as a joke.
But instead, Obsidian saw it as an opportunity to play nice and challenge a player. Credit where credit is due.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.