Bethesda is taking a rather unique approach to adding new in-game content for its multiplayer survival shooter Fallout 76. Instead of adding it in for free or making it part of a paid expansion, the developer is now selling a $12.99 monthly subscription it’s calling Fallout 1st, which will grant access to premium features. In particular, the membership — Bethesda is calling it a membership and not a subscription — “offers something players have been asking for since before launch: private worlds for you and select friends.”
You’ll get some other perks, too. There’s a “scrapbox” storage container for holding unlimited materials, a monthly deposit of in-game Atoms currency for you to spend, exclusive outfits and other cosmetics, and a new fast-travel option called survival tent. Overall, these appear to be a mix of items you might normally spend real money on in any given month in Fallout 76, and the private world feature, which arguably is the only real benefit here.
Except that you have to buy all of this on a monthly basis, at $12.99 (or $100 for the year), which might be a big ask for a community that has dealt with plenty of bugs and scores of other issues since the game launched a year ago. The dedicated Fallout 76 subreddit is not enthused. Some early, impassioned threads include “I can’t even defend it” and “Is this an out-of-season April Fool’s joke?” and “Wow Bethesda just wow.” Just for comparison, Apple Arcade, which has dozens of premium indie games for iOS and Mac, costs just $4.99 a month. Xbox Game Pass, which has brand-new Microsoft-produced titles like Gears 5 and more than 100 other games included, costs just $9.99 a month.
At the very least, there are some positives here. Bethesda says you’ll be able to keep all cosmetics even if you stop paying for Fallout 1st, although access to your own private world requires you to have the subscription. You’ll also still be able to access the scrapbox if you don’t renew, but won’t be able to put any new items in there. Not sure that’s going to sway players one way or the other, but at least it makes it slightly more palatable to pay more than a subscription to Xbox Live or PSN — and just $2 less than a full-on World of Warcraft subscription — for the right to use a single feature in a single video game.