Bethesda’s E3 conference might not give you what you want.
I think we are all expecting Fallout 4 to be announced this E3, right? I mean, it makes sense- it has been seven years since the last numbered entry in the franchise, and five since New Vegas, Bethesda alternates between Elder Scrolls and Fallout, judging by their pattern last generation (and Skyrim launched in 2011, meaning the time is ripe for a new Fallout now), and they are holding a full fledged press conference, which they have never done before. This would imply they have something major to show, right?
But just for a minute, let us assume that it is not Fallout 4. It is likely that it will be, but let’s assume that it is not. Let’s assume that it is an Elder Scrolls VI. Let’s assume that it’s a brand new IP. Let’s assume that it is a litany of new games that they are going to release this year, that they want to highlight. Let us assume that Bethesda is hosting a press conference not to launch Fallout 4, but because it now considers itself a ‘big’ publisher, the likes of EA or Ubisoft, and it wants to highlight its entire portfolio.
What impact would this have? One would want to assume that fans would rage, that they might boycott Bethesda products, that they would take the publisher up to task for toying with their hopes like this for so long, but let’s be honest- would that really happen?
For instance, if Bethesda were to announce an Elder Scrolls VI instead of a Fallout 4, do you really think there would be any measure of a successful boycott? Remember, Skyrim is the highest selling non Pokemon RPG of all time, selling 20 million copies.
Then also, consider that while you may personally care a lot about Fallout 4, Fallout isn’t exactly a big seller- the last estimate for Fallout 3 had it pegged at 5 million copies sold, worldwide, across PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. That’s not exactly a small number, but compared to Elder Scrolls, it’s not something that demands immediate attention either. If you were Bethesda, would you rather make a sequel to a 20 million selling game, or one that sold a fourth of that?
It’s not even just about Fallout or Elder Scrolls- consider Bethesda’s position here. It is a developer that manages to release a major product once every three or four years at most. That is not the most sustainable of propositions, economically speaking. It is vital for them to have a more assured and steady lineup than that, which is what their recent publishing partnerships have done for them. If they had the chance of establishing Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, Dishonored, and Doom as regular franchises that got them steady income, in addition to the millions generated by Elder Scrolls and Fallout, would they not want to do just that? Could this E3 not be a ploy towards exactly that end?
I’m not saying that Fallout 4 won’t be announced this E3 – I couldn’t possibly know either way – but I am saying that one should not get their hopes up for the imminent announcement of a Fallout 4 either way, not until we are sure that it actually exists. In fact, there is a lot of evidence lending credence to my theory that Bethesda intends to highlight its upcoming lineup, instead of using E3 as a stage to announce Fallout 4- consider that their E3 invitation makes note of all of their various active franchises, but none of Fallout. And while various industry insiders are teasing Fallout 4 at E3, well, to put it bluntly, they have also teased Fallout 4 at goodness knows how many other previous major events in the past, and the game has obviously never once turned up there.
It might not turn up here either.