Like many other big games, the soon-to-launch Fallout 76 will feature microtransactions. But Bethesda boss Pete Hines doesn’t want you to worry about them. Speaking to GameSpot at PAX Aus, Hines stressed that Bethesda will only offer cosmetics to buy with real money, not items that can affect gameplay.
This is a crucial point given that, unlike previous entries in the series, Fallout 76 is a multiplayer-focused game where players have the opportunity to go head-to-head with other human combatants. Being able to purchase better weapons could throw off the balance and give players the ability to pay to win, essentially, Hines said.
Fallout 76’s microtransactions come in the form of Atoms, which you can buy with real money in the Atomic Shop or unlock through gameplay. Bethesda has yet to announce the price points for Atoms, but whatever the case, Hines said Bethesda will reward players with heaps of Atoms for completing certain tasks and objectives in the wasteland.
“If you don’t want to spend money in the Atomic shop for cosmetic stuff you don’t have to. We give you a sh*tload of Atoms just for playing the game,” Hines said. “Folks that want to spend money on whatever the hell it is because they don’t have enough Atoms, they can, but it’s not, ‘I’m now better playing against other players because I spent money.’ It’s not pay-to-win. And it’s not loot crates.”
Hines went on to say that Bethesda has always tried to be “on the right side of the line” as it relates to microtransaction systems within its games. Hines acknowledged that it can be a “pretty ambiguous line,” but the studio has always strived to avoid situations that feel like money-grabs. Like other publishers, Bethesda has learned the best way forward by following industry trends and gathering feedback from players.
Fallout 76’s DLC packs, whatever form they end up taking, will be completely free. That’s a change of pace for the franchise, as Bethesda previously sold a variety of extra content for games like Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. Giving Fallout 76’s extra content away for free will hopefully make players feel like they are not being taken advantage of, Hines said.
“All the content we ever put out for Fallout 76–all the DLC, all the post-launch stuff–is going to be free. That’s important. And to say, the Atomic shop is cosmetic stuff. To make sure folks understand–look there’s a line. There are people who have crossed it, but we’re going to stay on the right side of it in terms of the things you can spend money on and how this stuff works and what you’re getting for your $60,” Hines said. “That you know, when they put out new content or features or whatever, I’m getting that stuff for free. That feels right.”
Everyone who pre-orders Fallout 76 on Xbox One gets 500 Atoms right away, but how much value this really offers won’t be clear until Bethesda reveals the cost of in-game items. Microsoft’s partnership with Bethesda goes further, as the company is also releasing a 1 TB Xbox One X bundle that comes with a copy of Fallout 76.
It appears Bethesda is following the model of games like Overwatch and Fortnite in that it will only allow players to spend real money on cosmetics, not items or abilities that actually affect the game. 2017’s Star Wars: Battlefront II originally featured a microtransaction system that allowed players to spend real money on items and weapons that actually affected the game. Following an uproar, Electronic Arts and developer DICE reversed course, and now the game only lets you buy cosmetics.
Another element of note in this story is how Fallout 76’s new perk system delivers them through Perk Cards. After this was announced, many wondered if players would be able to buy these with real money. However, Bethesda confirmed that it will not allow players to spend real money to acquire new perks.
Fallout 76 launches on November 14 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Players who pre-order can start playing early through limited-time beta testing sessions; all progress carries forward. In other news, Bethesda has confirmed that Fallout 76 won’t launch on Nintendo Switch because it “wasn’t doable.”