After gamers began questioning the sales data for Fallout 76 and noting how much controversy surrounds the game, there were rumors that began to sprout up indicating that Bethesda might make the switch from a premium-based product to a free-to-play design for the most recent entry in the Fallout series. This is a move typically made by a company to recoup sales on a game that may have performed under par. However, Bethesda made it public and made it clear that the game won't be going free-to-play.
In a very curt message responding to a customer who irascibly complained that he wanted his money back if Fallout 76 goes free-to-play, Bethesda's official Twitter account responded with the simple line "There is no truth to this rumor" putting to bed any talk about the game switching from the current model that the company has in place for it.
So, where did the rumor start? And where did it come from?
Well, going as far back as December 10th, 2018, ShackNews posed a question as the title of an editorial about the game, asking "Is Fallout 76 Ever Going Free to Play?" Within the article the outlet answers the question in the second paragraph by saying "No," and explaining that there was no evidence that the game was going free-to-play.
The question itself was posed based on players who began circulating the discussion of the possibility due to the perceived low sales, and the litany of controversies that have surrounded the release of the game, from the lack of refunds being issued, to the canvas bag mix-up, to accidentally doxing customers, to the whole rum bottle debacle.
However, all of those issues are separate from the actual gameplay itself, which has shown no signs of being reoriented or re-engineered for free-to-play purposes. Yet within various communities the discussions just kept popping up that the game might go free-to-play, especially as a talking point by some YouTubers. This also made its way onto the Fallout sub-reddit several days ago but was then promptly deleted.
What prompted SegmentNext to do an article about the game potentially going free-to-play? EB Games.
Apparently, the Australian retail outlet has been pulling new copies of the game from store shelves, and the article reports that there was a distributor recall that resulted in EB Games not receiving additional SKUs of Fallout 76.
This led some people to presume that if the game was no longer going to be sold as a premium package from certain retail outlets in certain regions, then surely Bethesda might attempt to make money on the game through an in-game cash shop using microtransactions, typically a monetization model associated with freemium multiplayer games, or games looking to gain a second wind on the market, such as Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve, which briefly went from a premium-priced game to a free-to-play title.
However, now that Bethesda has come forward to deny that the rumors are true, gamers can rest assured that they won't be playing Fallout 76 as a free-to-play title anytime soon.