Gamer buys Fallout 76 add-on domain to criticise Bethesda

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A composite image. On the left is David Chapman, he is smiling. On the right is the mascot of the Fallout series, also smiling.
Left: David Chapman from Indiana. Right: Vault Boy from Fallout 76.

What would you do if a company did something you didn’t like?

Some people would take to social media to voice their frustrations. Others might consider writing a letter to the business.

But when game developer Bethesda introduced a new subscription to their online game Fallout 76, David Chapman felt he had to do something with more impact.

He made a website.

And not just any website – he pinched the domain from right under the developer’s nose, so anyone looking for information about the subscription would instead be greeted with his critique.

“My motivation stems from a frustration with Bethesda,” he told the BBC. “And in general the current trend of the gaming industry.”

He added: “They said players had been asking for this – players never asked to pay a subscription for features hidden behind a pay wall.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me make this website.”

Wait, what did Bethesda do?

Bethesda Softworks developed and published post-apocalyptic game Fallout 76.

It is an online-only game, meaning that gamers must be connected to the internet to play, and will see other people they don’t know while they’re playing.

There is no monthly cost to play online, but in a sense this is about to change.

Now players will be offered additional features which affect the gameplay, such as the ability to play without strangers or store as many items as they like, for the annual price of £99.99.

The new service, called Fallout 1st, has angered gamers who point out Bethesda promised not to charge for additional features in the past.

An expletive-laden rant about the new Fallout 1st subscription. Transcription: As a slave of Fallout EXPLETIVE 1st, you also pay for access to your own private Scrapbox. Use the Scrapbox to store all your crafting components so they aren't taking up space in your Stash Box (Yay pay to win systems!). The Scrapbox has unlimited storage (WAIT WTF SERIOUSLY), so no need to worry about picking and choosing when it comes to hoarding scrap. (I am actually really starting to get EXPLETIVE the more I read this EXPLETIVE)
Image captionDavid took text from Bethesda’s own press release and added his own foul-mouthed running commentary

‘The goal was to start a conversation’

David Chapman said he set up the website in the hope that it would get people talking.

“I’ve been a fan of the series for some time,” he said. “But I haven’t played Fallout 76 in eight months.

“I love the response. The point I knew I’d done good was when someone said after they heard about Fallout 1st they just typed in [the domain I took] and got my site.”

He took the domain using the name of the online-only service, which Bethesda had not yet bought, and according to an invoice seen by the BBC, David’s escapade cost $27.46 (£21.40)

He said if Bethesda came to him asking to have the domain, he would happily hand it over – although he did have a personal request.

“I would like to sit down with [Fallout creator] Todd Howard and have a constructive discussion about Fallout 1st,” he said. “I care about their games and the direction they are heading.

“I would love to be the mediator between Bethesda and the gaming community.”

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