If you thought the controversy surrounding Fallout 76 ended at the game itself, you're in for a surprise. Bethesda is now in trouble with fans for promising a canvas duffel bag in its $200 (£156) Power Armour Edition of the game - and instead delivering a cheap nylon replacement.
Now, in an attempt to placate fans, Bethesda has apologised and promised to give affected customers 500 Atoms (Fallout 76's in-game currency) as compensation.
The foundations for bag-gate began last week when recipients of the Power Armour Edition noticed something was amiss in their deluxe package. Customers began to post comparisons of the promotional material for the edition and what was actually delivered, and claimed Bethesda had changed the bag's description on the site after they began submitting complaints. Sure enough, the official Bethesda Store now says the bag is made of nylon, but the image still reads "canvas," as does the Amazon listing for the product.
i made this comparason day 1 of launch that picture on the left was still on the website at the time pic.twitter.com/tRnnOSIFNY— MrFive2Five (@MrFive2Five) November 21, 2018
Already enraged by what some described as Bethesda's attempt to "cover their tracks", affected customers posted several screenshots of customer service responses, one of which was an unbelievably curt reply telling the customer: "the bag shown in the media was a prototype and was too expensive to make. We aren't planning on doing anything about it."
For anyone hoping that @Bethesda was going to do something about the "canvas" bag that came with the @Fallout 76 Power Armor edition. Bad news. @BethesdaSupport @BethesdaStudios #notcanvas #falseadvertising pic.twitter.com/YylasB9Ojp— Kyle Krcmaric (@krcm0209) November 21, 2018
Bethesda has since confirmed this email is real, but insisted the response was "incorrect,". The company switched to a nylon carrying case "due to unavailability of materials", Bethesda said. As for the customer service staff member behind the curt reply above, Bethesda said they're "a temporary contract employee and not directly employed by Bethesda or Bethesda Game Studios".
Unfortunately, due to unavailability of materials, we had to switch to a nylon carrying case in the Fallout 76: Power Armor Edition. We hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from enjoying what we feel is one of our best collector’s editions.— Fallout (@Fallout) November 28, 2018
In an attempt to resolve the situation, Bethesda is now offering affected customers 500 Atoms as compensation, and has set up a support page for those who bought the Power Armour Edition. In real-world money, a pack of 500 Atoms can be bought for £3.99 - but as many have highlighted on social media, this (ironically) isn't enough to buy the in-game version of the outfit that comes with the canvas bag, which costs 700 Atoms. Whether you get cloth or plastic when you scrap it is still unconfirmed.
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.— Fallout (@Fallout) November 29, 2018
Please visit: https://t.co/TJBMjYaph0
Ironically 500 Atoms won't even buy you the Fallout 76 postman skin that actually has a canvas bag (it costs 700) pic.twitter.com/UCN3kXYDmn— Chris Livingston (@screencuisine) November 29, 2018
Although Bethesda has finally come clean, it's still unclear whether this gesture will be enough to calm fans who dropped several hundred dollars on what was supposed to be a deluxe version of the game. Speaking to LanternCupcake - one of the customers who posted a support message screenshot - it sounds like this won't be the case.
"I was pretty disappointed after paying close to $300 AUD to get such a shitty quality item, then knowing that they would have known about the change for a few months," he told me. "I think they should deliver on what they promised - a canvas bag. I don't want compensation or anything like that, I just want what I bought."
Online too, the reaction to Bethesda's actions remains overwhelmingly negative. As Reddit user SenorBeef highlights, giving away virtual currency does not have direct costs for Bethesda. "Why not give people $50 or even $100 worth? $5 of a real refund would feel insulting, let alone $5 in virtual currency," they added.
Seems like the only thing Bethesda has bagged themselves is further PR woes. Judging by the reaction so far, bag-gate may rumble on for some time to come.