Bethesda Has Egg All Over Their Faces

Galactic Embarrassment

Alex Rowe

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My created character looks into the camera in Starfield.
Starfield Xbox Series S screenshot captured by the author. One of several pics taken for my now cancelled upcoming piece about the game.

Bethesda is responding to their hardcore PC gaming fans in the worst possible way. Rather than taking the customary high road of continuing to work on their popular game Starfield, their customer service team is instead waging battle by commenting on negative Steam user reviews. The more they comment, the more my respect for the brand will erode.

Someone needs to go back in time and take their keyboards away.

I love Starfield. It combines the scope of early Bethesda games like Daggerfall with the fun storytelling and gameplay systems of their newer titles. It’s more or less the evolution of the exact same game they’ve always made, rather than the elaborate Star Citizen or No Man’s Sky style space simulator that some fans were hoping it would be.

This divide between fan expectation and game design reality didn’t stop the game from being a huge initial success, with Bethesda’s biggest ever launch and a surprising climb up the Steam charts in spite of its appearance on game pass. It sold many millions of copies across Xbox and PC. By any reasonable metric, it’s a success — and like any successful game that turned out to be a different thing than some were hoping for, it has generated some bad user reviews.

They tell content creators not to engage with the comments for a reason. You can’t please everyone, and no matter how much you try to shape the narrative around your output, you can’t control the way that your users feel about it. Every big game has low user scores for one reason or another, oftentimes even accompanied with thoughtful treatises on why that game didn’t work for a particular individual. That’s just the nature of the roiling sea that is online discourse.

It only becomes a “problem” for companies when algorithmic stores like Steam prioritize the user score average in their discoverability system, showing higher user rated games to more people. While Starfield has enjoyed massive success so far, it now sits at the dreaded “Mixed” user score average on the Steam platform, and Bethesda decided to respond to that by falling right into absurd belligerence of the worst possible kind.

Over the last several days, customer service reps from the company have been…

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