“It just didn’t make sense,” says Pete Hines.
Bethesda has made some of the best games of the generation- Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, The Evil Within 2, Prey, Dishonored 2, all fantastic games from the publisher that failed to find traction in the larger market. A lot of this might have been attributable to their controversial review policy, which didn’t allow for reviews to be published before the games were available on the market.
It was unfortunate, because those were some great games that suffered commercially- and it looks like Bethesda recognizes that the experiment has failed, because in an interview with VG247, Bethesda’s Vice President of Marketing Pete Hines said that by and large, the company has gone back on the policy- the one exception to this, of course, being games like Fallout 76, where the servers won’t be live until launch day.
“We put out Evil Within 2 and sent it out to press well in advance, and we did the same thing for Wolfenstein 2,” Hines said. “Then there were other games that we sent out at launch. I think we’re going to continue to evaluate what makes the most sense. In the case of Elder Scrolls Online, we don’t have a choice. Fallout 76 is the same way, it’s a server – the game is either up or it’s not. We will continue to figure out what makes the most sense.”
Why change up the policies at all, then? Hines, of course, says that the backlash against it is what made the company reevaluate its stance. “We’re constantly iterating and reevaluating. It just didn’t make sense,” Hines said. “We did it the first time because there was the whole thing about transparency and companies needing to be transparent. We were like, ‘Well, you want us to be transparent, this is what we’re doing’.
“Then it ended up being the focal point and, honestly, we were tired of reading reviews where the first paragraph spent more time talking about our review policy than the game. So we decided we’re not going to keep drawing attention to it – we’ll send out copies and maybe people will start talking about the game instead of talking about policies. So we did.”
On the whole, it is good to see that the company has decided to go back on this policy (even though they aren’t explicitly admitting that it was a bad idea to begin with). It’s also a shame to see that so many great games might have ended up suffering while Bethesda was doing this, but better late than never, I say. Hopefully, upcoming Bethesda games do better as a result of good pre-launch word of mouth.