Tobold's Blog
Monday, June 15, 2015
Fallout Shelter

Recently somebody assured me that Bethesda was not one of those game companies that would milk a franchise for all that it's worth. Today they released Fallout Shelter for iOS, a Free2Play vault management game with in-app purchases. Now some fanboi will probably explain to me that this is so totally not the same a Dungeon Keeper for iOS. But from where I stand, without rose-tinted glasses, I must say that this looks mighty suspicious. My personal guess is that The Elder Scrolls Online created some cash-flow problems for Bethesda; the mobile Fallout Shelter and the 2-years-in-advance pre-purchase offer for Fallout 4 suggest that they are rather desperate for cash.

Or to say it in other words: You would be suspicious as well if this had been EA.

Eh I wouldn't see it like that. I think it's simply a business seeing some money and opportunity lying somewhere they haven't bothered to go get yet.

While I haven't played it myself yet what I've read about it says that things have no build times, there are no cooldowns on performing actions and that the buyables are random loot that's already better then Dungeon Keeper or Clash of Clans, etc.

Somebody at Bethseda finally realized they could make all this extra money if they brought fallout and elder scrolls to a mobile format. As a business why would they not do that.

As far as being suspicious if it had been EA yeah that's probably right. EA has a track record of accessing over customers though. Bethseda doesn't, so yeah I would give them the benefit of the doubt here.
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Fallout is one of those games that creates and extreme fanboysm. I've seen the recent Fallout4 trailer and let me say it really didn't impress me at all. Graphics, even considering the bad compression, are absolutely dull. Animations/npc's same stuff, featuring mechanical movements, goofy death animations and so on.

It really looks like and old game.
This is one of those cases where going after a realistic graphical style really hurts a game. Nobody comes to a fallout hand expecting amazing graphics but the graphics did in fact look dated.

Apparently they are using the same engine they used to make skyrim which explains the dated looks. It basically looks like what my skyrim looks like with the enhanced HD mods.

In the long run I don't think graphics will hurt them that much, but it does kind put a damper on your hot new next gen game when graphically it barely looks better then a years old, old gen game.

This is why I wish more devs would use stylistic graphics. Games that do hold up over time way better then games using realistic art styles.
"2-years-in-advance pre-purchase offer for Fallout 4"

You pre-ordered Fallout 4 in 2013?

Or in your rush to try to further a poorly supported idea, did you miss something without your glasses? Unless I also missed EA releasing a full DK game after the mobile app that ending up being "game of the year"?
A mobile fallout game? That makes no sense.... Bethesda's games are popular because they are modable...
It's nothing like a standard fallout game. You basically build and run one of the games vaults in the mobile game.
Yeah I wasn't sure where that came from either...the game was announced yesterday and is coming out this year...
At the time they made the pre-purchase offer they had not yet announced the release date, and a release in 2017 seemed likely. But apparently they are so strapped for cash that they can't wait so long, and will rush out an unfinished piece of shovelware in November this year already.
This is the first I'm hearing of a prepurchase for this game. Where did you see that?

I think your jumping to conclusions Tobold. The last fallout game Bethesda made was fallout 3 in 2008. Surely they don't need 9 years to make a game... Not sure what makes you think the game will be unfinished shovelware.

Anyways if Bethesda did do that they would really kill all the goodwill they have built up for the fallout franchise.
It's not such a huge studio, and they made a lot of other games in those 9 years. I can't believe they have been working on the game for very long. It sure was *after* Skyrim, because it uses that engine, and presumably after TESO as well because that must have kept them busy. Does the trailer to you look like a game that has already been years into development?
The last time bethesda have reported any solid figures on the number of employees was in 2012 and they reported 600 employees. I would say thats probably grown since then. Thats not exactly small potatoes. They said last night they have been working on the game since they shipped fallout 3. It looks like all the major features are in place and done. The story is done. I'm assuming it's going to have a karma/faction system like 3 and new Vegas. They have a new dialogue system. A new follower command system. Vehicles. A whole new crafting system. Settlement building system. A new character creation system. What exactly do you think is unfinished?

I could see an argument about the graphics because those certainly look dated. And I wish they would delay the game and polish those a bit, but I don't get what looks unfinished. People complained about the physics and the non VATS gunplay and those could certainly be improved. I wouldn't call them unfinished though.
What's the problem with milking a franchise for all its worth? Isn't that what franchises are for? Why would you want to milk a franchise for less than it was worth? If they are monetizing their IPs efficiently isn't that exactly what a responsible commercial operation should be doing?

Wouldn't it make sense either to play this new app yourself or wait until it's been out long enough for some reviews to come in before writing it off as "suspicious"? It might be good. Even if it isn't people might like it.

IIRC, Bethesda created an independent studio (Zinemax Online) for TESO. The teams that worked on Skyrim and Fallout continued to work on the sequels (or whatever) in parallel to the team(s) that are working on TESO.
It's free to play and has microtransactions, but from Bethesda's presentation it is not a "greedy" game. You don't need an internet connection to play, rooms build instantly with no waiting, and there's no energy mechanic at all. The only things you can buy are extra treasure boxes, and they are optional.

I haven't actually playing Fallout Shelter yet, so if that stuff is wrong and the treasure boxes are essential to play, like that horrible Ultima F2P game that carnival barker Paul Barnett was trying to sell, please do speak up.

Free2Play isn't necessarily terrible. There are some great F2P games, that don't always have their hands out forcing you to pay. DOTA2, LoL, Hearthstone, Path of Exile, etc, come to mind. This may be one of them.
Also, the Fallout4 preorder is not 2 years in advance. It releases on November 10th, 2015. That's ~5 months out.
You don't need an internet connection to play, rooms build instantly with no waiting, and there's no energy mechanic at all.

I played it. Rooms do *build* instantly without waiting, but you do need to wait for those rooms to produce something. Not sure how that is better. Hard to say how "optional" those treasure boxes are, you get some by questing. I can see how it would be tempting to buy them, as they are the only source of gear.
So you need to wait for the rooms to produce, but there's no way to pay real money to make that happen faster, right? If so, that's kosher.
@Vitoly holy cow thanks for pointing that out. My gaming life has a reason to exist again this year, although I will be shocked if the release date isn't delayed a bit.

@Tobold what evidence is there that Fallout 4 is shovelware? It's been realistic that they've had Fallout 4 in development since at least 2011 after Skyrim was released. Four years of development time is not usually what companies devote to shovelware.

I have no comment about the app, though, beyond the fact that it sounds less evil than Dungeon Keeper did.
Also, Tobold, Zenimax studios did Elder Scrolls Online, not Bethesda's in-house studio that did Skyrim....that's the one that is working on Fallout 4, best as I can tell (and the same group that did Fallout 3, I believe). So TESO's existence is superfluous to their single-player development process. So....2006: Oblivion. 2008: Fallout 3. 2011: Skyrim. 2015: Fallout 4. Seems about right to me. The only sad news is it implies ES6 won't show until 2018-2019. Unless they contract another studio in to work on a sequel, as they did with Fallout: New Vegas (which was done by Obsidian).

Final comment: all of the above doesn't necessarily mean I disagree with the idea that Bethesda/Zenimax is cash-strapped. One could argue that even if Fallout 4 has been worked on for four years that there's evidence something is different this time; a six month announcement window on the game is half the advertising time that they gave Skyrim, for example. This suggests to me however not that they are rushing, but that maybe they are running over on development and someone is pushing to get the game out before it is delayed much longer. That said....I'd still be willing to bet that in 2-3 months we hear it is delayed to March 2016.
So I was just talking about this topic before ethis announcement. Not really so much selling out, but wishing a bigger named franchise (that I like) would get into the mobile gaming arena.

I was super excited about this announcement. A little pissed that it was iOS only but still excited. I'm not sure I would consider this as "selling out", or a sign or hurting for money. I mean they have to put up front money out without presells on this type of game. While yes the tap and wait style game is totally bait for monitized transactions, they still can be fun to play.
I can see how it would be tempting to buy them, as they are the only source of gear.

Not true - you get gear from sending people to explore the wasteland. I think the only thing you get from lunch boxes that you don't get normally is a vault dweller with better starting stats, but I haven't unlocked the radio station yet - perhaps it gives you that option without boxes.

Overall I'm having fun so far with the game, always on the edge with resources, trying to keep everyone happy. Much better than the dungeon keeper mobile.
Bethesda have a fairly solid history of officially revealing games fair close to their intended release. From what I remember, Oblivion and Skyrim were released less than 12 months from when they were officially revealed.
Fallout 4's release date: November 10, 2015. Just sayin'
Incredibly poor post Tobold, really not up to your usual standard. I know you have revised your comments on the '2 years out' release date but your other comments show you haven't even spent 5 minutes playing this game. You can easily 'beat' the game without paying a dime, beating meaning gaining enough dwellers to unlock and build all the rooms. Its a simple free time waster, not at all a money grab pay-to-win like you make it out to be.

Lunchboxes are the only thing you can buy for cash and they only give small amounts of caps, random gear, and dwellers. You can easily get all the gear you would need from sending your dwellers to explore the wastelands. In just 3 days of playing I've equipped every one of my dozens of dwellers with gear and weapons just through exploration and the few free lunchboxes you earn each day. The special dwellers from the lunchboxes just start with a small bonus to their starting stats, but you can train up any of your people you wish in the many training rooms you can build. Also, if you're having trouble gaining new dwellers you just need to build more radio rooms.
If there is no reason to buy lunchboxes, then how do you explain that the game is currently making more money per day than Candy Crush Saga?
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