There have been a lot of discussions over the years about the role Steam plays in the digital distribution arena. Lots of people are okay with Steam because they see Valve as a "good guy". Others are not okay with Steam because they feel Valve has a monopoly on PC digital distribution. The solution is typically that monopolies can be broken up with more competition. But how do you create more competition when it's hard to get a full-fledged digital storefront off the ground in a legitimate way? Well, instead of looking at a third-party distributor to answer that question, you might look at fellow publishers. Bethesda recently announced that Fallout 76 will not be coming to Steam. That's right, the game will be skipping out on appearing on Valve's popular digital storefront and will instead only release on PC through Bethesda's own proprietary launcher.
The news was made available over on the Fallout 76 FAQ page, where it was revealed that first of all the upcoming Fallout 76 beta will only be available through the Bethesda Launcher. If you don't have an account for the Bethesda Launcher, you won't be able to play the game.
If you pre-ordered the game and have plans on diving into the multiplayer shooter-RPG, you will have to head on over to the Bethesda account page and follow the instructions in order to create an account or associate your Xbox Live profile or PlayStation Network account with your Bethesda account.
The move away from Steam shouldn't be a surprise to too many gamers given that we've seen this sort of effort being made by a number of publishers.
It all started when companies like Riot Games and Electronic Arts decided to host their most popular games on independent platforms instead of on distribution outlets like Steam. League of Legends is huge without being on the Steam store, just the same as Mojang's Minecraft was also huge without being on the Steam store. In the case of Mojang, then lead designer "Notch" had stated that it didn't make sense to lose 30% of the revenue to a distribution platform when they could host the game themselves.
For Electronic Arts it was all about creating a Steam competitor with Origin. While Origin never really reached Steam levels, it was buffered with huge releases like Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3 to help lure in hungry PC gamers looking for top-tier AAA experiences from Electronic Arts.
It appears as if the bug of independence has bitten Bethesda and the company is now looking to branch out from Steam with Fallout 76, even after years of having the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games appear on Valve's platform. Of course, if things don't turn out well it's possible Bethesda could always change its mind and launch Fallout 76 on Steam at a later date. But for now, it looks like it won't be on Steam for the foreseeable future.