Bethesda has not had a good run with Fallout 76. The game suffered a monumental launch day disaster: – Press “play” and the game deleted itself. Add to that all of the gameplay issues, its marketing campaign failures (Nuka Dark, the “high quality” nylon plaster bag), the bugs and glitches that run from the minor graphical texturing error to the ridiculous item duplication glitch. Let’s not forget the huge CS/CSM dumpster fires that have occurred. It’s a masterpiece in how not to develop, test, run and manage a live service game.
A New Problem
Then it reached new heights of “epic” this past week. Bethesda released a patch to fix the item duplication glitch which took the hours for them to implement. The result of said patch has been a massive ban wave on players, citing error code 4:8:2000.
The problem began on Saturday (16/02/19), with what appears to be at least HUNDREDS of players now unable to login. A quick glance at the official Bethesda Twitter or besthesda.net forum shows a lot of people asking the same question. Factor in that there are questions from across all three platforms, and you’re looking at potentially THOUSANDS of players.
Item Duplication and the 100,000
Contacting Bethesda customer support leads to receiving this email: –
What is most striking about this email is the second paragraph of it. The account access is suspended until further notice. That could mean weeks to months – if not longer. Interestingly and worrying the reddit, twitter, and official forums are now inundated with complaints from players who claim to have never duped/ duplicated any item in the game.
I’m not sure how long it takes to get that many items, but if players who rolled over from the Beta to the live service have not accumulated that many items, then it’s likely the system includes items that you have picked up, dropped and traded in that 100,000. How did Bethesda get that magic number of 100,000 anyway?
In Game Merchants Beware!
Players running in game stores or who crafted extensive amounts of scrap and components have been banned over the past months, and it seems like an extension of that first wave of the ban hammer with an automated system that produces false positives. These two results came out once players were allowed to “setup shops” in-game to trade and barter: –
It seems that the biggest mistake of all has been a total failure by Bethesda in explaining what has actually happened. I.e. A Ban notification via email was NOT sent out to these players. This resulted in some players sitting back and doing nothing. Others reached out to customer support and received the aforementioned email. That was over this past weekend (16th & 17th Feb 2019).
Since Monday (18/02/19), a number of people have received formal ban notification emails but again, it states that once things are patched, they might get their accounts back. It appears that Bethesda’s own system for catching these alleged item duplicators has a high chance to flag false positives.
How Not to do Things
While Fallout 76 has not been the Golden Goose that Bethesda hoped it would be, it is becoming clear after everything that has gone wrong, that Bethesda is clearly not the studio to be handling live service games at the present time. Proof, in this case, is the handling of this entire situation from the implementation of the ban wave to its follow up and feedback: –
- A ban wave is rarely ever executed on a weekend. This is because most of your staff, from customer support to community managers ARE NOT in the office. With only a skeleton team and no decision makers in the building, it becomes incredibly difficult to coordinate any kind of response. In point, the responses should have been planned in advance.
- People would get different responses from different channels- Bethesda Twitter would say one thing, open a support ticket and get a different response. The lack of a unified response, makes Bethesda look incredibly incompetent.
- Thus far the only thread to discuss this situation linked here says nothing new or additional to what is known which really does not help the situation at all.
- Customer Support is just giving out confusing information or not giving out information at all. Having to wait over 24 hours for an acknowledgment of your support ticket is another worrying sign.
Ultimately, it is an automated system that will catch a number of people who were duping/glitch items and resources. Some people have admitted to duping and will eventually get caught and banned for it. However, any automated system will have cases of false positives, especially amongst high level players and those who run stores and trade a lot. Even if it is a 95% accurate, that still means five innocent people banned out of every 100 correctly banned players.
The combination of these factors has taken what should have been a relatively simple and POSITIVE development for Fallout 76 and turned it into something that will fan the flames of rage and hatred higher – as if those flames were not high enough before.