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Fallout 76 buyers entitled to refunds, Australia rules

Aussie consumers who bought it before June 1 can get their money back

Fallout 76 - a Vault Dweller holds a Brotherhood of Steel helmet Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Fallout 76 buyers in Australia are entitled to a refund, under a ruling from that country’s Competition and Consumer Commission published earlier today. In a statement, the ACCC said that ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Fallout maker Bethesda Softworks, “accepted that their actions were likely to have contravened the Australian Consumer Law.”

Consumers who bought Fallout 76 from its Nov. 24, 2018 launch until June 1, 2019 can request the refund. If they accept a refund, they will no longer be able to access and play the game. Fallout 76 is an always-online multiplayer game that requires a check-in to Bethesda Softworks’ servers on startup.

The ACCC’s statement listed “problems with the servers, lagging, graphic and visual problems” as faults within Fallout 76 that were significant enough to warrant a refund. ZeniMax, according to the committee, acknowledged that its customer service representatives “are likely to have misled certain Australian consumers about their rights to a refund when they experienced faults with their Fallout 76 game.”

“When a consumer has purchased a product that has a fault which amounts to a major failure, the Australian Consumer Law provides them with the right to ask for their choice of either a repair, replacement or refund,” the commission said.

Rights to a refund vary by jurisdiction and in the United States, consumer recourse typically comes through a seller’s policies. The Xbox and PlayStation 4 marketplaces do not offer returns for online purchases. Steam and the Epic Games Store have policies where buyers can get their money back, no questions asked, if they demand a refund within two weeks of purchase and with less than two hours of gameplay time in the title. Earlier this year, Activision agreed to a settlement refunding buyers of Guitar Hero Live after the company turned off its streaming music library, effectively gutting the game.

Polygon has reached out to a Bethesda Softworks representative for additional comment.

Fallout 76 had several technical problems following its launch which included a game-breaking, item-duping exploit that allowed players to replicate high-value weapons, gear, and the like, threatening the in-game economy. Though Fallout 76’s post-launch support has added several new features and largely resolved its technical faults, players still have much to criticize about the franchise’s attempt at a multiplayer game.

Bethesda Softworks recently announced an in-game subscription for Fallout 76 that delivers private servers, newly created instances, and other content to those paying $12.99 per month. Players said last week that key features of “Fallout 1st” weren’t working as advertised, though.

The ACCC’s statement said that ZeniMax/Bethesda “has also undertaken to amend its customer service documents and scripts to address the ACCC’s concerns about misrepresentation of consumer guarantee rights under the [Australian Consumer Law].”