Bethesda is facing not one, but two, class action lawsuits.
D.C. based law firm, Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, is planning on filing 2 class action lawsuits against developer, Bethesda, for essentially releasing a glitch ridden, half finished mess that they’ve called a “game” and overall bad business practices. This lawsuit is being filed as ‘Deceptive Trade Practices’ due to Bethesda’s unwillingness to refund players that were asking for it, and for the false advertising surrounding the Collector’s Edition items.
The Law Firm has since released an official statement,
“Migliaccio & Rathod LLP is currently investigating Bethesda Game Studios for 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. While minor bugs and glitches are expected with the release of most new games, Fallout 76 launched with a 56GB patch that has proven to be but a starting point for the game’s problems. Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game’s myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state.”
According to Bethesda’s current return policy, refunds are not possible if the player has already downloaded the game. The issue with their return policy came to the attention of many when Reddit user “ZPKane” posted their recent interaction with Bethesda support when seeking a refund due to the glitches and overall problems with the game itself.
I contacted Bethesda for a refund on FO76 as it currently runs terribly and I can’t even connect to my friends half of the time. This was their response yesterday.
Thank you for contacting the Bethesda Customer Support Team.
Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to begin processing that refund for you right at this moment. There is nothing to worry about though. We’ll begin processing the refund as soon as we can and we’ll reach back out to you via email to let you know once we’ve started that process.
Thank you for your continued interest and support!
Bethesda Customer Support
Keep an eye on our official Facebook, Twitter, and website for upcoming news about Bethesda Softworks games here:”
From original statements from Bethesda, it seems that they were willing to do refunds, but quickly realized that their support system wasn’t equipped to do them in this manner. When ZPKane pushed back, he was greeted with this final response from the Bethesda support team.
“Greetings, Thank you for contacting the Bethesda Support Team. Customers who have downloaded the game are not eligible for a refund. We apologize for the inconvenience. If there is anything else we can assist you with please reply to this email for further assistance. Thank you for your patience. Kind Regards, Bethesda Support”
Ultimately they back pedaled on their agreement to refund, by stating that customers who have downloaded the game are ineligible for refunds. Now, I completely understand that most places won’t refund a game that’s been opened or downloaded, but this seems like a kick in the face for consumers who spent $60 on a AAA title (or nearly $200 for Collector’s Edition) to get something that would barely qualify as “Early Access” on Steam. When someone buys a product, especially one that costs a pretty penny, they expect to get a good or at least halfway decent product. It’s like buying a brand new car and the moment you drive it off the lot it comically falls apart. You would expect that the customer would either be getting the car repaired — OR their money back for being sold a faulty product.
And that’s just the FIRST lawsuit.
The second lawsuit deals with the $200 Collector’s Edition, which came with a map, a wearable helmet, a steel book, some figurines, the game, and a West Tek canvas bag. Everything but the canvas bag came as advertised. When players opened their Collectors’ Editions, they were greeted by a cheap, ratty nylon mesh bag instead of the canvas bag they were promised. According to the Law Firm, this is a classic “bait-and-switch”. At no point were the buyers informed of the switch so they could cancel their orders in advance, and instead they were told long after the fact that it was “Due to the availability of the materials”.
We understand and respect that there is disappointment with the bag in the Power Armor Edition. We are sorry. Please contact Bethesda Support to provide proof of your CE purchase. They will assist in granting your account 500 Atoms.
Please visit: https://t.co/TJBMjYaph0
— Fallout (@Fallout) November 29, 2018
What adds insult to injury, is Bethesda’s response where they once again are denying refunds and returns and additionally offered customers a $5/500 Atoms for Fallout 76, for a game they essentially spent $200 on.
Are you kidding me? Someone spends $200 on a Collector’s Edition because they want the items that make it a treasure to them. Not for a measly 500 Atoms. It really goes to show what Bethesda really thinks about their consumer base.
Now, for me to write something like this it does take a lot. I have been a huge fan of the Fallout series since the days of Interplay/Black Isle Studios, and I have loved the steps Bethesda has taken along the way to take Fallout as a franchise into the next generation. Especially their work with Fallout 3. And as much hate as Fallout 4 got for “Not being a real Fallout game”, I enjoyed it quite a bit.
No studio will ever be totally immune from criticism, and no developer is going to get a pass for major screw ups like this. And definitely, there is no studio out there “too great to stumble”. And over the years we’ve all grown accustomed to embracing and poking fun of Bethesda’s bugs, hiccups and glitches. We’ve laughed at them, and it seems like as a fan base we sent the wrong message that “It’s ok if it’s buggy, it’s part of the experience.”
It’s not. And the bugs and hiccups don’t excuse a bait and switch on your consumers either.
Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20.
With how awful BETA was, Bethesda should have taken pause and considered a hard press for pushing out the launch a bit further. Sure, fans would be disappointed that the game is delayed, but having to wait another 2-3 months for something a bit more fleshed out would have been significantly better than rushing to market. There is no shame in taking this as an option. Even EA had to take this route with Anthem in 2017. They announced the game at E3 2017 with a generalized release date of ‘End of 2018’. However, they came to realize that date was “never realistic” and pushed out launch with a tentative February 22nd, 2019 date. If Bethesda knew that November 2018 wasn’t realistic to release a mostly functioning game, they should have considered postponing the launch or setting a new target date of Spring 2019. It’s safe to say that many fans would probably be ok with Bethesda taking some responsibility for once by stating “We just need a bit more time to get things right”.
As for the issue with the bags, Bethesda should absolutely shell out the money at their own expense to honor what was promised, or offer a refund/credit for the value of what said bag would be within the Collector’s Edition. Let’s face it, the credit they gave was absolutely insulting – as the TRUE canvas bag was well worth than $5 of in-game credit. And if you’ve actually played the game or have followed the in game economy, 500 Atoms gets you almost NOTHING in the game. Reddit user /u/Goldwing8 stated “500 Atoms isn’t even enough to buy the Postman outfit with a canvas bag”.
So, we’ll leave this one up to you. Does Bethesda deserve to burn in the lowest pits of hell for this one? Do you think there’s any redemption arc for the Fallout 76 game, or will it slowly fizzle out and leave a burning hole in Bethesda’s pockets?
Will Bethesda finally learn from their mistakes? God, I sure hope so…