A few days ago we were treated to the trailer for Fallout 4. We all looked wide-eyed at the mysterious announcement, watching the countdown to the trailer in child-like excitement, and devoted the next day in its entirety to analyzing it. We all love Fallout, and we’ve been waiting for the announcement to the next entry in the series for quite some time. It’s understandable that we would want to get excited about its release, and nobody’s more hyped for Fallout 4 than I am. That doesn’t mean that this new Fallout game isn’t without its problems, however. The first and foremost being the marketing surrounding it.
When I wrote the story detailing the announcement of Fallout 4, I mentioned the issue of half the page being designed to beg you to pre-order. We’ve seen the dangers of pre-ordering in the past, and it’s a habit that the games journalism industry has gotten keen on hating. This is for good reason – purchasing a product before anyone’s seen it is a bad idea, no matter how many extra skins or little features get tossed at you as tribute. I don’t expect any company to stop requesting pre-orders as a whole – this is a business, and tricking consumers into pre-ordering is serious profit. However, it bothers me to a serious extent the lack of attention that this pre-order push has gotten.
Batman: Arkham Knight and the new Star Wars: Battlefield both received healthy portions of scrutiny from the community as they shilled their pre-order agenda at the same time as they announced their game. Not too many people disagreed with this controversy, because it’s a fairly reprehensible thing to do – announcing a game is supposed to be the beginning of a brief time period where consumers get to be excited before the marketing teams pile on. Why is it that, as a community, we lambaste these other franchises for their shady practices, but somehow Fallout is immune from the echo chamber of internet criticism?
I understand that Fallout is one of very few sacred cows that the gaming community has. It’s a beloved franchise that introduced us to a high quality post-apocalyptic world, and Fallout 3 was one of the biggest games in the pop-culture renaissance that pushed games into the mainstream. Unfortunately, as people who care about this industry, it’s our responsibility to not only praise the achievements of our favorite developers – but to remind them when they’ve gone too far.
It doesn’t stop at the pre-order requests. On Bethesda’s store page, they’ve already started selling Fallout 4 T-shirts, and who knows what other merchandise will come out for them before E3 rolls around and we actually get to see the game. This move by Bethesda has entirely removed the mystery and sense of excitement that this announcement, by all rights, should bring to the table. I want more than anything else to be excited about Fallout 4 – believe me, I’m a long time fan of the Fallout franchise. But having Bethesda’s marketing team be so clearly looking over my shoulder as I attempt to get excited is slowly sucking all of the joy out of what ought to be exciting.
Please, don’t pre-order Fallout 4. Don’t buy their T-shirts. Vote with your wallet and make sure that Bethesda knows that we want to be excited – they’re just not letting us.