One of 2018’s biggest games, Fallout 76, won’t be available on the world’s largest PC platform, Steam. Instead, Bethesda is releasing the game on PC exclusively through its own Bethesda.net launcher. The move makes business sense, as Bethesda won’t have to pay Steam operator Valve its cut of sales, but the announcement shocked some fans as previous Fallout games like Fallout 4 and Fallout 3 launched on Steam.
So why won’t Fallout 76 be available on Steam? Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines told GameSpot that the company wants to have a “direct relationship” with Fallout 76 players due to the game’s always-online, multiplayer focus.
“Well because of the kind of game it is,” Hines said when asked by Fallout 76 is bypassing Steam. “Because it’s an online, always-on game-as-a-service. Based on our experience based on other things that we’ve done, we felt like having a direct relationship with our customers was super important to us. And so doing it through Bethesda.net, exclusively, allows us to have that one-to-one relationship with customers, that quite honestly you don’t always have when you go through another third-party where they might own the relationship with the customer in terms of being able to email them or to reach out directly and contact them.”
Hines added that making Fallout 76 available exclusively on Bethesda.net also “simplifies things” as it relates to a number of things.
“We believe it’s going to help us deal with some issues and challenges that we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “And again, its a new experience, like the game itself is and we’re going to see how it goes and how it works and what benefits it allows us to have in making sure that our customers have the best experience possible.”
Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter launched as a Bethesda.net exclusive before eventually launching on Steam at a later date, so it seems at least theoretically possible that Fallout 76 could come to Steam in the future.
It’s not an unprecedented move for a big game to bypass Steam. Activision’s Destiny 2 is only available on PC through Battle.net, while Blizzard’s games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III can only be purchased digitally on PC through Battle.net as well.
Fallout 76 is also coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the console version will be released in the traditional sense on those platforms with Sony and Microsoft getting their cuts. Microsoft has a special co-marketing deal in place with Bethesda as well for Fallout 76.
The pre-order exclusive Fallout 76 beta starts on October 23 for Xbox One before coming to PS4 and PC on October 30. The beta represents the full game, and your progress will carry forward to launch on November 14.
For more on Fallout 76, you can check out GameSpot’s roundup of everything you need know, including our thoughts on what we’ve played so far and more. You can also check a lot of gameplay footage in the video embed above.