According to CNET, the Fallout 76 beta isn’t coming to Steam. Instead, the PC version of the beta will be exclusive to Bethesda’s own platform on Bethesda.net. Everyone is up in arms about the beta not coming to Steam, but I think they’re overlooking the bigger bombshell:
Bethedsa has their own platform?!?
Sure enough. I go to the site and there’s a link for “download the Bethesda Launcher”. How long has this thing existed?
According to the FAQ, the beta is available to people who pre-purchase the game. So you can pay up front to be a QA tester. On the upside, they’re promising your progress will carry over to the full game at launch. On the downside, this means at launch you’ll be entering a PvP realm where some people have several weeks of head start.
I’m always conflicted when I hear there’s a new game platform on the PC. I like having another competitor to Steam to work against their market hegemony and encourage them to not take their customers for granted. At the same time, it’s annoying having to manage yet another account and maintain yet another launcher. It’s more convenient to have all your games in one library. Also, the idea of a game launcher from Bethesda Softworks is mildly terrifying. Skyrim is the jewel of Bethesda’s works, and it was still counter-intuitive, occasionally broken, and janky as hell. I can only imagine what their launcher would be like.
I don’t care about Fallout 76, but I am curious what the Bethesda launcher is like. So let’s try it…
So I try to create an account, and discover I already have one. That’s cool. The password is already saved in my browser, so that makes things easy.
I download the launcher and realize that I don’t know the password to this account. It’s saved in my web browser, but I need to actually know it to log in via the launcher. So I have to reset it. Fine. Easy. But then I notice the launcher won’t save my password. I’ll need to type it in every time I launch the application.
The thing is, I use a password manager and strong passwords. Every single password is different and they’re all impossible to remember strings like “iG2k3qt51J7UMwr7HNCE”. That works fine as long as I only need to enter it once and have it stored. If I need to type it every time I launch it, then the password needs to be something I can rememberLaunching the password manager and copying the password every single time is too much hassle.. In trying to make the platform more secure they end up forcing me to use less secure passwords. Too many companies seem to be confused about what passwords are for. I’m worried about strangers gaining access to my accounts remotely. I am NOT worried about strangers gaining access to my physical machine. If they have access to my desktop then they’re in my house, and if I haven’t bludgeoned them unconscious then it’s because they’re pointing a gun at me. At this point the last thing in the universe I care about is my stupid games account.
Damn it, designers. At least give me the option to save the password.
Anyway, this setup means I can either use a lousy password or launching BNArg. I just realized that Bethesda.net has the same abbreviation as Battle.net. That will make it annoying if I every write about both at once. Can’t you guys name your launcher? Branding is good! will always be a cumbersome three-step process to open my password manager, copy the password, and then launch BN. This gives me a strong incentive to get a game via Steam rather than using BN.
Whatever. I launch the launcher to see what’s up.
I own zero games on this platform. So why did I create this account? Perhaps I created it when I played Elder Scrolls Online? Nope. Looks like ESO isn’t available through this launcher.
I see you can link your Bethedsa.net account with a Steam account. Ah! Smart move, Bethesda. You can look at my Steam library, see what games I’ve purchased, and grant me access to those games here in the BN launcher. That can jumpstart my account so I have some reason to engage with the platform.
Oh. I see here I’ve already linked my Steam account? Interesting. But now I’m wondering why it says I don’t own any games. I own nearly the entire Bethesda catalog on Steam, and none of that this showing up here. So I’m wondering what the point of this feature is.
Okay. Let’s see what’s involved in buying a game on this thing. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is at the top of the listWhat is this sorting based on? Why is Wolfenstein at the top? so I randomly click on that. Hitting the “Buy” button takes me away from the BN launcher and just opens the store page in Chrome. As icing on the cake, the game is selling for the launch-day price of $60.
Whelp, I’m bored and annoyed. There’s absolutely no reason to use this platform.
I know Steam keeps something like 30% of the sale price of a gameIt’s possible that big publishing houses might be able to negotiate a better cut for themselves, but even if they secretly haggle Valve down to 25%, that’s still a big bite. so I can’t understand why someone would go to all the trouble to build a launcher and then make no effort to entice people to use it.
Whatever. No skin off my back. I guess I can keep using GoG and Steam.
 Launching the password manager and copying the password every single time is too much hassle.
 Arg. I just realized that Bethesda.net has the same abbreviation as Battle.net. That will make it annoying if I every write about both at once. Can’t you guys name your launcher? Branding is good!
 What is this sorting based on? Why is Wolfenstein at the top?
 It’s possible that big publishing houses might be able to negotiate a better cut for themselves, but even if they secretly haggle Valve down to 25%, that’s still a big bite.
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