Bethesda's 'Fallout First' Fallout 76 subscription is the worst deal in gaming history

Fallout 76
Fallout 76 (Image credit: Bethesda)

There was a time where I would have called Bethesda my favorite publisher. Fallout 3, Prey, DOOM, New Vegas, and Skyrim are among my all-time favorite games. Bethesda's dedication to single-player experiences also led to excellent games like Dishonored, the Wolfenstein reboot, and The Evil Within, leading Bethesda to go as far as launching a campaign to prove its dedication to single-player gameplay.

After the piles of cash Bethesda made from the mobile game Fallout Shelter, it felt a bit like it realized what it could truly achieve by sending its IP out into a wilderness of microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics. This leads us to Bethesda's latest bout of IP abuse, Fallout First, which is the worst deal in gaming today — and plenty of people will probably still pay for it.

What is Fallout First?

Source: Bethesda Softworks (Image credit: Source: Bethesda Softworks)

Fallout First is an expensive $100-per-year subscription to Fallout 76, Bethesda's MMO-lite Fallout game. For what it's worth, I actually quite enjoyed my time with Fallout 76, despite the bugs, crappy engine, server problems, and shallow endgame. Since I quit playing (because, well, there was nothing to do), Bethesda introduced a couple of weak updates to placate the game's remaining hopefuls, while also introducing pay-to-win "utilities" in its previously promised "cosmetic-only" store.

Most of the community has moved on and written off Fallout 76 for what it truly is: a cynical cash grab. With Fallout First, Bethesda seems to be fully embracing the game's bottom-shelf, penny-pinching identity, hoping that there are enough dedicated fans left to squeeze out a few more caps.

Reddit: Fallout 76 community reacts to Fallout First.

Fallout First grants some exclusive emotes, a set of exclusive iconic New Vegas ranger armor, and an unlimited storage box for all your scrapping needs, once again granting a gameplay advantage to paying players. None of these are the biggest slap in the face to fans, though.

Since Fallout 76 launched, the community was asking Bethesda to provide players a way to play offline, without interference from others, complete with mod support. You know, like a regular Fallout game. After all, '76 still has some interesting quests and lore to uncover, if you're willing to suffer through the jank, after all.

With this update, players will finally be able to play solo, use mods, and with a group of friends of their choosing. If you pay, that is. For the "low, low" price of $100 per year, you'll gain the privilege to play in a private world with up to seven friends of your choosing. I say privilege because, unlike Minecraft Realms, these aren't dedicated 24/7 servers. They require a paying player to be online in order for the server to be active, a feature Minecraft offers for free with its player-hosted worlds. If you're at work and your friends want to play on your world — tough.

Spend your money on literally anything else

Source: Bethesda Softworks

Source: Bethesda Softworks (Image credit: Source: Bethesda Softworks)

Minecraft Realms, by pure comparison, grants access to a permanent, infinitely-generating always-online private server for up to ten players. Only the server owner needs to pay for it to be live, and they don't need to be online. Xbox Game Pass provides access to over a hundred games — including Gears, Minecraft, and Fallout New Vegas successor The Outer Worlds — for roughly the same price as Fallout First.

Hell, you can buy two bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label and reminisce about the good old days when Fallout wasn't a throwaway IP Bethesda used to test how much it could get away with pissing people off.


But hey, at least The Outer Worlds is pretty damn good.

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Bethesda really knows how to do poor value. First horse armour. Now this.
  • Horse armour... I was there! The beginning of an era 🤑.
  • Me too! Remember the outrage then?
  • It seems like a decent deal to me, but then again, I actually prefer to enjoy the games I play, not complain about them...
  • I just think they should treat their fans a little less like garbage. This is bad value, they're not even dedicated servers. Not really something I can in good faith claim is good.
  • The anger you constantly put forth in the article and this comment seems entirely out of proportion to the reality of the game. Yes, it's very hip to hate things and make everything seem like a major moral outrage, but it gets very tiresome for the reader.
  • He's absolutely in the right, though. This deal is one of the most egregious examples of the anti-consumer rot destroying modern gaming. Anybody who buys this hurts their fellow consumers and contributes to the decline of the industry.
  • How is it out of proportion? Like honestly asking, I don't see it. Plus I see it as an opinion piece about the subscription service which I think is fair.
  • So you're in favour of game developers just ham fisting microtransaction crap on people instead of, you know, making a good game? Fallout 76 is a travesty of a game. It was broken at launch, it never really got fixed and now they want to give you this for 100 bucks a year? Jez is absolutely correct. If we accept this kind of behaviour as the norm then that's what it will become. Bethesda has completely lost its way.
  • @noirsoft decent deal??🤣🤣 I guess you also pay 10 bucks for coffee / tea? lol😅 Also it's not anger it's criticism and needs to be highlighted because by not holding Bethesda accountable for this move will indicated to other developers they can get away with similiar things. As Jez pointed out these are not dedicated servers - if your friends want to play that means you have to be online and if you have monthly data caps... you can say goodbye to doing anything else within that data cap. Additionally, constantly being online requires heck load of bandwidth and redudancy. Dedicated servers in reality require less bandwidth allocation overall as not every single player is online at the same.
  • @noirsoft
    LOL what a ridiculous post. Yes, let these AAA publisher do whatever they want and we should just sit back let them **** us in the *** and enjoy it. LOL
    ofc no one should complain... It's because of people like you that these publishers do this. That they start to focus more on "how to make more money after selling a game", rather than just focus on "making a quality game".
  • At least it's optional... I mean, you can still play Fallout 76 without getting this. Is that at all redeeming? I would never do this and agree with Jez on it being a bad deal, but as long as Bethesda continues to make single-player games in addition to this, I suppose I don't mind if they can get more money to fund their single-player development from MMO players. :-)
  • I usedta have a similar mentality. The problem is that devs are now structuring their games (including SP games) around these scams, removing content and convenience so they can sell 'em back at exorbitant rates. You've probably heard Bethesda's spiel on how one of their biggest regrets is that they didn't make money off Skyrim mods and didn't turn Skyrim into some kind of a live-service with recurrent fees. Additionally, real SP games are getting greenlit less and less because they have lower scam potential. The cost of bad-faith deals like this isn't just people with more money than sense making it rain. No, this is the company testing what it can get away with. And the answer is increasingly "anything", because it's proving more valuable to cater to a minority of uberspender idjits than it is to maintain a good reputation with other players.
  • Get ready for ES6 First. 100 bucks a year to make another creation engine game worth playing.
  • @Granite
    Nothing is really optional. Like microtransactions their very existence means that they are focusing on "how to make more money" and not just on "making a quality game". If this makes money, you think they'll make more single player games? You think they'll make more quality games that are free from this bs microtransactions?
    If you think that then sorry to say but I think that's really naive. History shows us that these AAA publishers don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.
    If this is successful, it'll ONLY get worse.
  • Adios Bethesda, totally ruined the Fallout franchise for me as well.... they sure have sunk lower than a cesspool of bs. First they shank modders with Fallout 4, then kick gamers in the nuts with Fallout 76 and now they want to bleed you dry with a 100 dollar a year subscription? 8.33... dollars a month what a joke, damned mosquitos. The majority of people who pay for microtransactions and will pay this have no concept of the value of money.
  • Don't understand the issue, been playing the game on and off for a few months now, have they said they are taking something off us that use to be free or something?
    If not, personally my opinion is If people want to pay for a kind of Vip treatment then so be it, I won't be though. If I was a big fan of the game and played everyday, the 1650 Atoms a month seems quite good as it currently cost £8 for a 1000 on the market place. The perk of unlimited storage would also be quite handy.
  • "The perk of unlimited storage would also be quite handy."
    You do understand that it is a restriction that was created by the game developer. You do understand how microtransactions work. Free2play economics, grinding and frustration creating mechanism... Anyway, can I ask you when have you started gaming? And how often do you game?
  • It's just what you mentioned. Companies now are pulling out basic features and selling them back at absurd price points. Another common strategy is designing problems into the game and then selling the solution. If you wonder why so many games now have much slower leveling, longer travel times, or grindy crafting systems, it's so the devs can sell you XP boosts, special mounts, or resource packs. The problem here is that the game is made worse so that devs can squeeze customers for more money, which is especially egregious in a full-price game you already bought. There's also the issue of broken promises. Bethesda specifically promised when promoting the game to not do the exact things they're doing now. The way consumers normally protest is with our wallets. If a company does scummy things, they get financial backlash and learn they can't get away with that stuff. If a company does good things, they get rewarded with money. But the recent trend is for scummy companies to charge absurd prices that're completely unanchored from the value of the product. If this disgusts 99% of the playerbase but 1% caves, then the company comes out ahead and is encouraged to keep making these consumer-hostile decisions. That's why the FO76 reddit is full of people typing "that's karma" in each thread about people who've lost all their items to the bugged subscription box. People who support blatantly bad-faith game-making are encouraging the industry to keep screwing over their fellow consumers.
  • I agree with all you said.
    Another thing though. we really need to call them out here. But also any other company in the future going with microtransactions and saying it's not as bad as "fallout 76".
    After the whole Star Wars battlefront 2, so many publishers sold their microtransactions vision as "not that bad". And we had so many company fanboys defending games with microtransactions with that same argument. They are constantly doing it. They are trying to make it a trend in gaming. So slowly slowly, people expect them in the games. Slowly slowly games are getting worse as the expectation are lowered.
    We as a community should criticise EVERY one of these games.
    We are fighting for gaming. We are fighting to not let gaming turn into the crap that mobile gaming as become...
  • This whole Fallout 76 has been one of the worst example of anti-gaming policies by a AAA publisher. So many things went wrong with this game. I had my doubt when they announced this and this turned out worse than I ever thought it would. We as a community should stay united and not let these greedy publishers turn gaming into what mobile gaming is today... We should stand up for gaming. For the future of the gaming. We should not let any publishers get away with these type of bs no matter who they are and no matter what they did in the past.