Update: Bethesda denied the rumors via Twitter. No changes in the game's distribution model are planned, it appears.
In recent months, Fallout 76 has earned the title of one of the biggest industry catastrophes in recent years, which has seriously undermined the reputation of the Fallout series, as well as (or perhaps mainly) that of its current developer and publisher – Bethesda. The game received disastrous reviews from the critics and a few weeks after its release in November last year, the number of people playing it has shrunk dramatically. The situation was not even remedied by the fact that the creators repeatedly assured of continuing support for the production by publishing regular updates and patches. All the failures of the title had a strong impact on its sales, despite the rapid and unprecedented discounts. What's more, as some fans have noticed, it seems that a few shops have already given up on selling new copies of the boxed Fallout 76. We're talking about chains such as Australian EB Games, which already has only the collector's version in its offer.
If more large retailers join EB Games and other smaller entities, it may mean that Bethesda is preparing the ground for switching the game to the free-to-play game model. This move is potentially the only way for the company to recover at least a part of the money invested not only in production, but above all in the marketing campaign, for which they have spared no resources and efforts. Let's recall that in mid-December modders have discovered suspicius entris in the game’s config files, which related to various lootboxes and premium cards, which theoretically could be activated by the developers at any time.
The next few weeks will be crucial for Bethesda's dying work. Introduction of the free-to-play model would certainly make the remaining handful of 76’s faithful fans utterly mad. What's more, it doesn't have to result in an increased interest in the game among people who haven't had any contact with it so far. Problems of Fallout 76 are not limited to just bugs and technical issues – the game has some fundamental problems with the premise and course of the gameplay.
- Fallout official homepage