I’ve been doing a bit of nosing around and, while we can’t be absolutely certain just yet, it looks pretty damn likely that Bethesda is migrating its games from Steam to its own Bethesda.net launcher. Heck, once the games are on Bethesda.net, I suspect they can have a better go at the whole paid mods thing without rousing the pitchforking protesters on Steam from their deep slumber.
Bethesda is keeping fairly quiet on the matter, but there’s a whole lot of evidence pointing towards the likes of Fallout 76, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls VI, and Starfield, all launching exclusively on Bethesda’s own gaming client.
First and foremost, neither Fallout 76 nor Rage 2 have Steam store pages. When Fallout 4 was announced, a Steam store listing went up practically instantly, and it’s the same for just about every Bethesda-published title. Fallout 76 is the big one though as Bethesda is actively running a pre-order campaign for the game right now. You can head onto the Xbox Marketplace and pre-order Fallout 76 for Xbox One. Or, you can head onto the PlayStation Network and pre-order Fallout 76 for the PlayStation 4. But, you can’t head onto Steam and pre-order Fallout 76 on PC.
However, if I log into the Bethesda.net game client, Fallout 76 is available to pre-purchase front and centre. Doing so will guarantee access to the Fallout 76 beta, which is confirmed to be exclusive to the Bethesda launcher. It doesn’t explicitly say anywhere on the page that this isn't a Steam key, but nor does it say it is. Compare this to Fallout 4 page on the Bethesda store, which says right at the bottom in bold: REQUIRES STEAM ACCOUNT TO ACTIVATE. Nowhere does it say this same message on the Fallout 76 store page.
All evidence seems to be pointing towards Fallout 76 not coming to Steam then. Every day there isn’t a Steam store page live for Fallout 76, pre-orders are undoubtedly being lost.
If we’re too assume that Fallout 76 isn’t releasing on Steam, then it probably stands to reason that the rest of Bethesda’s catalogue of games will too. The benefit for Bethesda is obvious - the 30% cut that Valve takes from Steam sales will now be in Bethesda’s pocket, provided fans are willing to leave Steam to purchase a Bethesda game. On top of this, Bethesda will gain more control over the modding scene for its games. In particular, the Creation Club which allows Bethesda to hand-pick the best community-created content and sell it to fans. There will no doubt still be free mods available, but Bethesda will probably be pushing the Creation Club in a big way for its future titles.
Which leaves us all in a conundrum, particularly those of us who somewhat slavishly want every game to launch on Steam. It looks as if Bethesda is following in the footsteps of EA, Epic, Ubisoft, and Activision-Blizzard, in moving to its own digital storefront. Will you be following them though, or will you refuse to buy a Bethesda game if it doesn’t launch on Steam?
Get voting and let us know why below!