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Bethesda Pulls the Plug on Pre-release Game Reviews: an OP-ED


Kendo 2
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Bethesda announces they will be sending media review copies of games one day before official release.

Here is the article link on Bethesda.net.

Basically what this does is prevent potential customers from being informed in advance, before they make the decision to purchase a Bethesda game release.  One day is not enough time for a reviewer on a platform like Youtube to do some in-depth game play, compile a comprehensive video and provide a qualified opinion.  Given the release states of previous Bethesda game titles (i.e. all of the day-one bugs) it appears Bethesda doesn't have a lot of faith in their products.  Reviewers being able to actually review the games seems like an unwanted burden to Bethesda.

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Basically what you posted means people don't have enough time to catch on to a review before buying the product. Which then leads me to believe if YT goes forth with that YT HERO crap, Bethesda will have their eye on any negative reviews on their games and blacklist them so that others cannot view them. But fear not for the fanboys will surely defend this BS.

I get the impression YT Hero was pushed forward due to corporations disliking negative reviews because it does hurt their sales.

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Bethesda is infamous for DMCA notices on Youtube.  Even if a reviewer was able to get some game play footage up with the 24 hr window it would be copyright flagged.  Look at what Bethesda did with FO4 and people resorting to PornHub just to get videos up.  Bethesda doesn't want the public knowing about the game until they buy it.  That's also why game reviewers get flak for saying something like 'The game is bugged so hold off on buying it for a couple of weeks'.  That bites Bethesda's bottom line and it doesn't look good with their shareholders.  It is like Bethesda knows what their games lack and the want to keep potential customers in the dark.

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Well game day release sales is a very important revenue source.

So I guess if anyone is smart they will not prepay for the game... which means Bethesda will raise the prices (like they did with the Season Pass for Fallout4) and those that want to play the game will have to wait if they want reasonable pricing until about a year after the release. Good news however is it takes a bout a year to get the mod systems up and running properly and for the mod authors to get the system understanding.

There will always be those that want the newest and first to play a game good or bad. Those with the income or willingness to risk their $$$ on something that might just be crap. Let them spend their $$$. I never bought the Skyrim when it was released and bought it well over a year later when it was 30~40 % off. I bought the FNV and F04 day one... the last game.. was a disappointment. Not talking about day one bugs which I can accept. It was the game itself and what was given. Doubt seriously I will buy a day one release of Fallout titles in the future again. Most of the time I find a few games I might want.. place them on the wish list in Steam and wait and wait until I get a price I think they are worth and then buy them. Even Witcher I waited until it was a good price for the GOTY version. I was interested in getting that game but never paid full price for it and entertainment and quality of that game is well that above Fallout 4 is at least for me.

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5 hours ago, Doublezero said:

But seriously though, this in a sense is a review embargo; not a winning strategy going forward. This isn't giving me a lot confidence that TES:VI will good game on a new engine.

We'll find out around 2020.  It takes Bethesda about 4 years to make a game, even with an engine they've been using since 2002 and Morrowind.  If it took them 8 years to make FO4 just imagine how long it will take for TES6 and a new engine to run it.  And there isn't going to be an Obsidian FO game based on the FO4 engine like what happened with FO3 and New Vegas.  FO: New Orleans, FO: Boneyard are not happening.  That means NO new Bethesda titles that can be modded.  It's FO4 and the broken and now abandoned CK for it.

Skyrim Remastered won't fill the gap because the mods people want require frameworks that will have to be refitted for a 64bit engine.  It took Skyrim modding 4 years to peak, but that was a new game and all of the interest that drives.  People have already seen Skyrim.  64bit doesn't offer anything we haven't seen when mods and ENBs are used with the 32bit version.

What all of this boils down to is Bethesda continuously shooting themselves in the foot.  Them not allowing for advance notice game reviews is just another bullet in the chamber.  Popular Youtubers are already talking about this 'one day' review scheme.  They aren't happy and neither are their subscribers.  When that happens word spreads fast and the gist of most comments is 'They're trying to hide how bad their games are.'  People like Bethesda games, but there is no denying how buggy they are when compared to other modern releases.

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I still can't believe FO4's CK is still in beta. They really own up to their word. More than likely this was done so that it pushes modders to make more simple mods so that console gamers can get those simple mods. If that's the case, we see the future of modding Bethesda games.

 

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After Bethesda releases the final DLC for a game they do one patch for the construction set and then they abandon it.  Oblivion, FO3, NV, Skyrim and now FO4.  Also funny that the FO4 season pass and all of the 'extra-content' promised at purchase never happened.  Bethesda is not CDProjektRed and they don't give anything away.

As for the future of Bethesda modding it will fall more and more on modders who are able to crack the game to add content.  It will fall into the realm Sims and Mass Effect modding; player-made extractors and editors not sanctioned by the companies or subject to their licensing.  The FO4 CK being abandoned is par for the course for Bethesda; but it being in the woefully incomplete state it is now is something new.

I've already decided I'll never buy another Bethesda title until the modding community has had access to it for at least a year.  Fear of missing out outweighs my wasting 60 bucks on a game that sucks.  FO4 taught me that lesson.  I also believe the response to FO4 is one reason why Bethesda is taking their Nancy Pelosi snake-charmer 'have to buy it to see what's in it' game review policy.  When talking about game releases Bethesda touts DOOM but never mentions FO4.

What's also disturbing is the new story-driven approach Bethesda is trying to mimic from games like Mass Effect and Witcher series.  To pull that off a developer needs what we all know Bethesda lacks; writers who can script and execute a compelling story.  That talent left when Ken Ralston packed up his desk and walked out half way through FO3.

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9 hours ago, Doublezero said:

Mods will fix it. ;)

But seriously though, this in a sense is a review embargo; not a winning strategy going forward. This isn't giving me a lot confidence that TES:VI will good game on a new engine.

 

Only so much can be fixed if the mod tools like CK are crap...

They need to give the framework and some access to the tools needed to do this. ;)

Before this was the case and the argument was sound.. now it isn't. I don't see the growth that I have seen in the past. at first I took it as a  result of a new game.. however constant complaining (more so than usual) for the current CK in Fallout 4 is well more than I ever heard of in Fallout 3 or NV. Perhaps it is because I am watching more... but I doubt it.

I have very limited confidence on the next TES game. Not unless they really start to change their model

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Bethesda will only showcase and release in trailers what they want people to see. All they are doing is encouraging more piracy, a distrust connection between them and their fans, and especially making it clear that no one should give in to buy their games until people actually see what's going on. But worst of all is they are trying to insult our intelligence by saying "we want everyone to experience it at the same time" which is completely BS.

I also get this impression this was introduced because they have two new huge games in the making and probably want the hype build up and nothing bad come out of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
5 hours ago, Kendo 2 said:

Dishonored 2.  Now we can begin to understand why Bethesda doesn't want media reviews ahead of a game release.

Dishonored 2 has performance issues on PC

Bethesda responds to Dishonored 2’s PC performance issues with new tips

Quote

One player in particular noted that even while running the game on an Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics card, a high-end card that should run the game no problem, having TXAA enabled took a toll on the game. Even in low detail, they added, that made the game feel like it was chugging.

Yea... don't they even test these games now a days on the equipment that they are stating that customers should be using?

Where are those game testers? How are they playing the game. Do they have quad TitanX's to test the game? How can they be testing the game and have such poor results unless they are using some dual i7extreme rig with quad TitansX's.  Quality control is out the door now. Lets be clear I can accept some glitches.. (getting stuck, unfair game mechanics or even glaring exploits etc) but not even being able to actually play reasonably well on an recommended hardware... completely unacceptable.

Wonder if it is just that the textures and world spaces are too large for the current hardware to run (like Fallout NV New Vegas world space which was all in one during testing until they realized that hardware couldn't handle it and broke up those spaces) Or the meshes and textures are such high quality that it is just killing the computers and is more "future ready" (AKA Crysis claim etc) However it is more likely that it is poorly optimized and sloppy in design.

All the more reason to wait until the first major Steam / Origin etc sale.

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In my unpopular opinion Bethesda has lost the ever-narrowing edge they had in the gaming market and they're aware of it.  I think The Game Awards in 2015 not being a Bethesda coronation like it always was in the past hit them pretty hard.  Witcher3 beating FO4 had to sting, and Bethesda obviously doesn't have a candidate for Dec 2016.  The less-than stellar reception of FO4 was probably unexpected.  What Bethesda has been getting away with since 2006 simply won't fly today.  Euclideon software, photo-realistic graphics, modern game engines (CryEngine, Unreal4, EA’s Frostbite, CDProjekt’s RedEngine, Source, Unity, etc.)...there's no way that Bethesda can compete with any of that on consoles.

Like it or not consoles is where the high-end market has been heading since xBox and PS3.  I just bought an XBox1 and an new 28" LED 4k TV and they'll be delivered this Wednesday.  Mass Effect Andromeda and Cyberpunk 2077 are calling my name and I want to play that shit in style.  Note I'm NOT dropping almost $800 to play a Bethesda release.  They don't don't even rate an honorable mention.

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I agree that they know they had their asses handed to them. Likely the reason for their release of Skyrim SE. They wanted to get more positive public opinion. However they keep on tripping on their selves like the announcement that they wouldn't be giving review keys until one day before release. That is another sign that they know they are not up to par. This is a way to protect their efforts and assets and try to get the best start as possible for their products before they get trounced upon. Hopefully they know that is only a band-aid. They have to update much more than they have for Fallout 4.

Now ... as for competition.. one thing is tech the other is story. Even with 2006 tech and engine that has has only been upgraded slightly over these years. The main attraction of many to the Fallout or TES universe is the story and role playing. Engaging characters, stories, quest missions and many many many of them. One can dive in a play the previous titles 200, 500, 1000, 2000 hours and still find fresh events, side quest and other things to hold their attention and give the a reward for playing the game. Role playing... is aided by a story that can be re-worked time and time again by the ability to mod. Further adding fun and value to the game. This is the formula that they had success with. This isn't Mass Effect. They are a different company with a different formula. Their formula is different and they are successful because they remain true to their formula. Even with their flop ending of ME3 many are willing to give the new ME a try. (one thing is the company realized/realizes that they did under deliver the ending and seem to have learned their lesson) They really only made one serious fan mistake even though each game had major changes in the game play. ME1 unlimited ammo but limited by heat. ME2 limited ammo but less issues with heat. The character builds were different in capacities between the games however only to a small degree. Most of what was done through ME1 to ME3 was responses to the fan or customers feedback in a positive way. They respond and make small changes and see how they work then move on. I have confidence that they will do a great job on the new game and not make that major failure of the ending of ME3. Bethesda isn't doing this. They have lost contact with what made them successful.

The first and most important step to gain back what they lost is to return to the role playing story types and depth and feel they had in the past. This isn't that expensive considering what is involved. They have done some of what they needed to do with the engine by going to 64bit (for more memory access) and I believe they added the ability for the addition of animations directly into the mod that is created. No need for a FNIS replacement. This is a really good thing. I can give credit where credit is due. :) They need more open ended story lines for the player not the deeper more "forced" story line of Fallout 4. (a parent getting their infant kidnapped.. really.. How is someone really suppose to help the Minutemen build up their settlements or help the Brotherhood get their gadgets when their infant son is missing? The person that suggested that for the main story needs to be fired, taken out back and then shot.)  They need to look over what made their previous games GOTY and make sure that gets added to the game. Not skimp on story, quest, or character development.

Mass Effect is popular because the developers of that game understand what their core fans like about ME and give that to them. Bethesda has lost that ability and seriously need to get it back if they hope to be relevant in the future.

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Here is an article that basically covers the fact that they (the developers of ME ) know what is wanted and desired and is working to get it for you the player. (consumer)

I like the comment that they are committed. to giving and delivering the goods and that is the reason for the long time frame. I believe true fans will be more than willing to wait for a properly developed and executed game :)

https://www.masseffect.com/news/an-update-on-mea

They also are pretty good at understanding that the old universe is used and now in order for the story to properly grow they need a new space and time for this to occur. This is the reason for the new Universe .. literally :P

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Being misinformed by companies is not what the consumer wants. It's not good for the gaming industry just as much as the gaming community. If Bethesda and these other companies had any brains, they would buy reviewers instead and give them a copy of a version that is simple and very stable in order to convince the audience to buy their product. But in the end, people catch on to what is going on because at the end of the day, Bethesda will always release a faulty product. Not some minor faulty product, a bug infesting product which "mods will fix it". It's been a running joke for a long time, but it's so true and at the same time has become joke that holds no more humor to me. It's like the infesting bugs in their games, it's funny for a short while, but eventually it starts to become annoying over time. Especially when it's repetitive from game to game.

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It being okay for Bethesda to release bugged games is now the default excuse of fanboys.  'It's a Bethesda game.  What did you expect?'  Well, I expect to get what I pay for, and that's a game that functions as intended at release.  I also expect it to have the WHOLE GAME and not rely on DLCs to finish it.

Bethesda is going down a path of breadcrumbs, sucking them up as they go.  If they go far enough down that path they won't be able to find their way back.  I think that has already happened as far as game reviewers go.  One major major consensus on Youtube is reviewers now saying 'Don't buy Bethesda games at pre-release.  Wait and see what they're offering.'

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  • 11 months later...

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