Earlier this month, video game publisher Bethesda suspended the account of a Fallout 76 player after he shared an exploit with the developers so that they could patch it. At the time, the player also described how he’d requested a refund on his Fallout 1st membership because of all the unfixed bugs in the game but Bethesda had denied the refund request.
The player that Bethesda had suspended and denied a refund request was the creator of the popular community tool Map76 – a website that mapped objects, resources, and other items in Fallout 76. After feeling mistreated by Bethesda, this player took Map76 offline and replaced it with updates on the current Bethesda situation.
Now, as it faces mounting backlash from the Fallout 76 community for its treatment of the Map76 creator, Bethesda has backtracked on its initial refund refusal and released an official response to the incident.
The Map76 creator shared the news that Bethesda had decided to give him a refund in an update which contained the following message from Bethesda customer support:
“Thank you for your follow up reply and please note that I have spoken to our management team on your behalf. With this in mind we have made an exception processed the refund for your purchase of Fallout 1st.
Please note that it can take up to 10 business days for the funds to appear in the correct account. If you have questions concerning the length of time for your refund, we recommend contacting your financial institution for more information on the process.
As always please let us know if you have any other questions, issues or concerns and we will make sure that you are taken care of.”
The Map76 creator said that he sees the offer of a refund as “a start” but that the real problem is this being an “exemption” rather than a change in policy that would allow other players to get refunds on Fallout 1st.
Following this update, Bethesda then issued an official statement on Reddit which said:
“We’ve been seeing rumors flying around about the notion that players who report issues are banned. We want to assure you this is without a doubt NOT true. Players are absolutely encouraged to report issues, especially through a Customer Support ticket so we can better track it. Reported issues are critical in helping us find and fix the things you are seeing, whether that’s a minor bug to a problematic exploit. We are so grateful to those that take the time to point these out and let us know about them. We would NEVER ban a player for reporting issues or exploits.
There have been cases where players have used third-party software to take advantage of an exploit usually in excess of hundreds of times. In cases where this has happened, this is a violation of our Terms of Service and in those cases the accounts are actioned. If you find an exploit, you should absolutely report it to us but do not continue use of it.
We are actively issuing suspensions and bans to players confirmed to be hacking and cheating in Nuclear Winter while we work on a fix to address some of the most common exploits and cheats. Please continue to send us any information regarding players you suspect of hacking so that we may investigate these accounts. Providing videos and usernames is extremely helpful!
We can’t stress enough how much we appreciate receiving reports so that we can investigate and fix issues you’re letting us know about. Thank you.”
Essentially the statement says that Bethesda won’t ban players for reporting issues or exploits but if those players use third-party software to test for exploits before reporting them, they may be banned.
After Bethesda posted this statement, the Map76 creator responded by highlighting that before being banned, he was concerned about “a big enormous game destroying exploit” and was using his technical expertise to get more details on and then report this exploit to Bethesda. However, even when he tried to explain this intention and context to Bethesda, he was still banned. To make matters worse, the same exploit that he was trying to report has still not been fixed over a month later.
The incident has sparked criticism of Bethesda’s inconsistent stances between its different departments and also in the way it treats people using exploits to cheat compared with those testing exploits so that they can be reported to Bethesda.
When he was banned from Fallout 76, the Map76 creator described how Bethesda’s community managers understand that third-party tools are sometimes used by the community to test exploits before reporting them and often work directly with those in the Fallout 76 community who find such exploits. However, Bethesda support doesn’t take this into account and often bans players for using these tools, regardless of context.
The top responses to Bethesda’s statement on Reddit also highlight the community’s frustration with Bethesda’s inconsistent application of its rules. Many of these responses point out that hackers or cheaters often get warnings or three-day suspensions while players such as the Map76 creator, who are testing exploits, get banned permanently.