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Why? An Open Letter to Bethesda

Dear Bethesda,

Why? Why did you let this happen?

There was a time, back in my youth, when I worshiped you! You were a god descended before me with a magical touch and sparkling brilliance. I remember back to when it all began, when I first played Oblivion. I loved that game. It was filled with creativity and wonder, it still had your charm. But, when I look back now, I see that this is when it started. When the golden idol caught your eye and you fell under its mystifying gaze.

Oblivion, for all its faults, truly astounded me. Before then, I was a Quake junky. On occasion I would branch out and try new things. There was Doom and Hexen, Duke Nukem and Commander Keen. I had never really tried out other games beyond shooters and platformers. Sure, I owned my copy of Age of Empires and SimCity, but those were the exception. So when I risked it and blew my birthday money on a copy of Oblivion, I never saw the experience coming.

I was so blown away by this new experience of an RPG that I decided to branch out. I started with you of course. I fiddled around on my Windows 95 and got a copy of Daggerfall working. What a time I had. Even dated, your love for games shone through, your old touch of creating an immersive world that sucked you in and never let go. I moved onto Morrowind and, even though it never quite had the same effect, I could still see your love and creative heart in the work through the browns and grays.

I slowly ventured out further, trying out RPGs made by Bioware and Obsidion. I played Jade Empire, KotOR I & II, Balder's Gate, Dragon Age, Arcanum, Neverwinter Nights; so many that I can hardly even recall their names anymore. Hell, I even gave WoW a shot. I picked up as many RPGs as I could get my hands on in South Africa and never gave the habit up.

There was one in particular, though, that I truly fell in love with. Its name was Fallout. The choice-action-consequence dynamics of the game was so grand that it boggled my mind back then and still does today. It and its sequel, Fallout II, ranked up there as my favorite games of the time and still hold their place today.

So when I heard that you, the mighty Bethesda, had bought the franchise from the decrepit Interplay, my heart soared with joy. Nothing could be greater than Fallout reformed and created anew by the master gamesmiths of Bethesda. It seems almost naive now that I think back on it, but my hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of so many, were riding on that game.

I don't know, maybe I'm just bitter. Fallout III was, by industry standards, a great game. But your games were, to me anyway, held to a higher grade, a finer ideal. It could have been your magnum opus, a testament to games as an art form. But you'd learnt your lesson of Oblivion well, hadn't you. No longer did you have to create games. No longer did you have to pour your heart and soul into the work. The glint of the golden idol was too strong and from it Fallout III was forged into a gilded cage. Pretty, sure, but confining and a damned shadow of its predecessors.

The years have tapered me down but maybe I still see things through a harsher lense. My vitriol and bile has hardened into a jaded state, but I just don't see you shattering that any time soon. Your disgusting management of New Vegas scorned me greatly. Denying Obsidion their just deserves for "mistakes" you make gladly was truly shameful. Your wanton lust for more money through DLC has faded into a joke to many but still burns strong in my memory. Skyrim only further proved my point to me that you care little for your franchises anymore, only for the money you can wring out of them.

I love you still, you know. I understand there's little hope, but the very least you can do is tell me why. Why did you do it Bethesda? Why did you shun everything you once stood for? Why did you gladly join the ranks of Bioware and Blizzard? Why did you give up your creative legacy for money? And, most importantly, is it too late? Has the cancer gone so far as to infect you entirely? Is there nothing left of what you were? Is there any hope that some day, you'll sit down again and create something visionary and beautiful, or am I just sitting here, to be left out in the cold?

Andrew Stead

PPS: Yea, I'm probably still just bitter.
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About Andy Steadone of us since 3:56 PM on 01.16.2013

Writer, wannabe author, game player, reviewer and sun worshiper. All the best things in life, wrapped up into one.