- Bethesda Studios, the company behind “Fallout 76,” recently barred a wave of players it said were cheating with third-party modifications.
- The 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 didn’t specify 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,” Bethesda Studios, recently barred a group of players it said were cheating and closed their accounts without warning, then told them in an email detailing the ban that they could 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 initially said they were unsure exactly what software led to the ban, but reports from several barred players identified a handful of programs, including Cheat Engine and Nexus Mod Manager.
Mod software can be used for a range of effects, such as making a player unkillable or duplicating rare items and money. But some of the barred players said they used third-party modifications only to improve the game’s graphics or fix persistent issues, or make changes that otherwise don’t alter gameplay or affect other players.
Because the email did not specify how the cheat software was used, players on the r/Fallout subreddit said they felt Bethesda’s essay request was both condescending and presumptuous in assuming that all mods have a negative effect.
“It’s insulting,” a user named Vaperius wrote. “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.”
Since its release in November, “Fallout 76” has seen its fair share of criticism about game-halting glitches and generally hollow gameplay. At one point, players threatened a class-action lawsuit against Bethesda, accusing it of 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 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 punishing 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,” a Reddit user named bbigs11 wrote on r/Fallout. “If I was one of these modders I’d write them an essay with tips how to fix their broken arse 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.”
At least one user on Youtube completed the essay and had their account successfully restored.
“I wrote an essay and got unbanned, it wasn’t from an in-game ban but from the bethesda.net forums,” a user named Sinister Hand wrote before sharing the above message from Bethesda. “The essay isn’t a joke, if you’re not a P.O.S. you might be unbanned.”
Past Bethesda games like “Fallout 4” and “Skyrim” were famous for their modding communities, but those games were also single-player. As “Fallout 76” incorporates always-online multiplayer, allowing game-altering mods arguably could create an imbalanced playing field.
With the game’s emphasis on online multiplayer, its legacy will rest in the strength of its community. While Bethesda’s effort to stop cheaters is designed to keep the game fair, it could also be ruining the fun for the most hardcore “Fallout” players.
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