- Bethesda Studios, the company behind “Fallout 76,” recently banned a wave of players from the game for cheating with third-party modifications.
- Banned players received an email from the company saying that to appeal their ban, they would need to write an essay explaining why “cheat software” is detrimental to online games.
- The email doesn’t specify exactly what software leads to a ban, and affected players are pushing back against the assignment.
- “Fallout 76” has been steeped in controversy since its launch in November, with players reporting game-halting bugs and customer service issues.
The creators of “Fallout 76” recently banned a group of players suspected of cheating and closed their accounts without warning. In an email detailing the ban, Bethesda Studios told the affected players that they can appeal their account closure by writing “an essay on ‘Why the use of third party cheat software is detrimental to an online game community.'”
Members of the “Fallout 76” community reacted to the wave of bans on Reddit and YouTube. Players were initially unsure exactly what software led to the ban, but reports from several banned players specified a handful of programs including Cheat Engine and Nexus Mod Manager. Mod software can be used for a range of effects, like making a player unkillable, or duplicating rare items and money.
However, some of those impacted by the bans claimed they only used third-party modifications to improve the game’s graphics or fix persistent issues, changes that don’t alter how the game plays or impact other players. With the email failing to identify how the cheat software was used, players on the r/Fallout subreddit felt that Bethesda’s essay request was both condescending and presumptuous in assuming that all mods have a negative impact.
“Its insulting. We are adults, or most of us; and the rest are (probably) mid-teens or older. Frankly this sort of thing is unprofessional; we aren’t some tweens in [in-school suspension] for tagging a room; we are paying costumers that used 3rd party modifications to fix their broken product,” a user named Vaperius wrote.
Since its release in November, “Fallout 76” has seen its fair share of criticism for game-halting glitches and generally hollow gameplay. At one point, players threatened a class-action lawsuit against Bethesda for refusing to issue refunds for the game and failing to deliver a canvas duffle bag as promised for the deluxe version of the game. While Bethesda ultimately reneged on its unpopular practices, further issues temporarily exposed the personal information of the players entered into the company’s customer service portal.
The problems with the game’s launch have led to a contentious relationship between Bethesda and the “Fallout 76” community. Now, many players suspect the bans targeting cheaters might also be pushing players who just want to play the game their own way.
“Most of us are adults with full time jobs and they want us to write apology essays like we’re third grade students who spoke back to their teacher out of turn? Jeeeze man. If I was one of these modders I’d write them an essay with tips how to fix their broken ass game and maybe suggest implementing them prior to release so people don’t have to mod to get the experience that they thought they paid for,” user bbigs11 wrote on r/Fallout.
Past Bethesda games like “Fallout 4” and “Skyrim” were famous for their modding communities, but those games were also single-player. With “Fallout 76” incorporating always-online multiplayer, allowing game-altering mods creates an inherently imbalanced playing field. At the same time, Bethesda is charging players for add-ons that will strengthen their character, so preventing players from using artificial power-ups also protects their business model.
With its emphasis on online multiplayer, the legacy of “Fallout 76” will rest in the strength of its community. While Bethesda’s proactive effort to stop cheaters may keep the game more fair, it could also be ruining the fun for the most hardcore “Fallout” players.