Todd Howard on Fallout 76 Launch: “We Knew We Were Gonna Have a Lot of Bumps”

Bethesda Director and Executive Producer Todd Howard talked up the initial reception to Fallout 76.

For those unfamiliar, the game was near-universally panned due to its various bugs and glitches rendering the game almost unplayable. A rundown on these many issues can be found in many videos online including Internet Historian and Joseph Anderson (Editor’s Note: Niche Gamer does not support any allegations made in these videos).

This was all made worse by several PR incidents including products in special editions and preorders not matching the expected quality, such as a canvas bag being made of nylon in the $200 Power Armor Edition. Attempting to quell those upset with free premium currency caused yet more controversy, as it was the equivalent of $5.00.

Bethesda eventually offered to produce the canvas bag within four to six months, but the support ticket form to fill in to acquire it (including home address and some credit-card information) allegedly ended up being sent to random individuals unencrypted. The support tickets could also be opened and closed by anyone.

Refunds were also allegedly not being handed out despite players meeting the criteria outlaid by Bethesda themselves. Finally, lawfirm Migliaccio & Rathod LLP began investigating Bethesda Game Studios over “releasing a heavily-glitched game, Fallout 76, and refusing to issue refunds for PC purchasers of the game who found it to be unplayable because of its technical problems.”

Speaking to IGN, Howard discussed the game’s reception:

“We knew we were gonna have a lot of bumps. That’s a difficult development, a lot of new systems and things like that. “Hey we’re gonna try this new thing.” Anytime you’re gonna do something new like that, you know you’re gonna have your bumps. You know a lot of people might say “That’s not the game we want from you.” But we still want to be somebody who’s trying new things, and that was a very difficult development on that game to get it where it was- and we were ready for, y’know. We were ready for… A lot of those difficulties ended up on the screen, and we knew “Hey look, this is not the type of game people are used to from us and we’re gonna get some criticism on it.” And a lot of that very well deserved criticism.”

Interviewer Ryan McCaffrey mentioned how Howard’s reputation for past titles had been akin to a “Vegas winning streak”, causing Howard to interject, explaining how he was still proud of how the game is today:

“We knew that going into this, we knew it was not that, right? We would say “Look, this isn’t a game- even from the beginning- this isn’t a game like high Metacritic Game,” this isn’t what this is, given what it is. But we knew, we felt strongly that this was a game we wanted to play, this is something we really want to do. And all of the games like this, whether it’s us or somebody else, you can go back and look at them… There’s a period once you launch, it’s not how you launch, it’s what it becomes. Y’know I can’t be prouder of the team that’s worked on it, they’ve worked tirelessly and its really turned around- it’s a fabulous game and an incredibly community around it.”

McCaffrey then inquired if there was a strategy for “shaking off the reputation” the game had developed and winning people back over. Howard explained:

I think- well there’s no strategy other than just keep making the game better. And people will play it and they’ll come back and it was- by the way it was very popular. It was a huge release for us, the community around it is really really strong. Obviously it got a lot of criticism and stories, and we see all that. You don’t want to read that but it is what it is. Again, we deserved a lot of that. It’s just working the issues like “Hey what do the consumer want? What do we want? How do we get there?” This is a very long tale for us and this game. And there’s some awesome stuff coming this year that I think people are gonna see at E3, and hopefully be very excited.

Fallout 76 is now available for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. In case you missed it – you can find our very thorough review for the game here.

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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