Bethesda Support Asks Fallout 76 Players To Write Essays To Get Unbanned

You can't blame developers and publishers for banning cheaters from their games. Cheating ruins the fun for everyone.

But it seems that Bethesda is taking banning to the next level for Fallout 76. Modders are also falling under the ban hammer, and are being asked to write an essay to get their accounts back.

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The $300 Power Armour edition of Fallout 76 promised fans a load of stuff, including what looked like a very nice canvas bag. Which they didn’t end up getting, because between announcing the bundle and shipping it Bethesda pulled a lil’ switcheroo.

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According to various sources, some players are receiving emails from Bethesda customer support to inform them of their account being suspended due to cheating.

But what makes these emails unique is a paragraph towards the end, which reads:

"If you would like to appeal this account closure, we would be willing to accept an essay on ‘Why the use of third-party cheat software is detrimental to an online game community,’ for our management team to review."

We have reached out to Bethesda locally to verify the legitimacy of these emails. We'll update the story if they get back to us.

The news of these alleged emails first garnered widespread attention by YouTuber JuiceHead, who has also claimed that some players are being banned for simply using Nexus Mods.

There have also been several reports of the odd bans on Reddit, including this thread about banned modders.

Bethesda is unbanning modders from Fallout 76, but only if they write an essay in their support ticket as to why all third-party mods are bad. from r/Fallout

While cheaters are the worst and absolutely should be banned, it seems a little bit unfair that odders are also being impacted.

Sure, there will be some modders out there who create or use tools to give themselves an edge over other players, and that shouldn't be tolerated.

But what about the people who are just messing around with the aesthetics or even fixing broken parts of a game?

While it may be difficult to distinguish who is using mods for good as opposed to evil, it's disheartening to hear that players with the best of intentions are possibly having their accounts banned and need to write an essay to redeem themselves.

Modders Are Making Fallout 76 Less Frustrating To Play

Fallout 76’s launch has been plagued with problems. The game is buggy, despite two meaty patches so far, with another on the way tomorrow, and its multiplayer is a far cry from what was described when the game was revealed in June at E3.

Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped the modding community from slowing trying to improve the game on PC.

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It's important to remember that the games industry has benefited greatly from the world of mods.

Counter-Strike was originally a Half-Life mod, and Rocket League's origins can be found in Unreal Tournament when it was a mod called Car Ball.

Locally, Aussie indie Antichamber started out as a mod for Unreal Tournament 3.

When it comes to well-known devs - Justin Browder was offered a job at Westwood to work on Red Alert 2 after creating a successful Starcraft mod. He then went onto being the game director for both Starcraft 2 and Heroes of the Storm over at Blizzard.

Then there's Brendan Greene who created the ArmA 2 mod for DayZ: Battle Royale, which formed the basis for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

And these are just a few examples that show just how integral modding is to games and players.

And generally, Bethesda seems to recognise this. The company has been incredibly supportive of modding in the past - especially in regards to the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises.

Bethesda even has its own modding tool for Fallout 3 and 4 - GECK (Garden of Eden Creation Kit), which allows users to edit and create data to use in the games.

This is why this story is so odd. While Bethesda hasn't outright banned modding for Fallout 76, it also isn't officially supported.

And least not yet.

To be fair, its still early days - the game is less than two months old. And being an online RPG, its going to receive updates, DLC and changes well into the future.

So we may see more official and unofficial mod support for Fallout 76 in 2019. Here's hoping.

And on an ironic note: Mod DB, one of the oldest repositories of mods on the internet, recently announced its mod of the year - the long-awaited unofficial Fallout: New Vegas total conversion, Fallout: New California.

Massive Fallout Mod Nine Years In The Making Is Out Today

Fallout: New California, an enormously ambitious mod that’s been in development since 2009, is now out, finished and ready to play.

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Comments

    It's probably because bethesda is moving to try and make money off of other peoples unpaid labour. there was the steam paid mods scheme that failed and now the bethesda workshop of their own. by the time the next elder scrolls rolls around mods not installed from their will probably have something in the game breaking them forcing people to use their system and probably have to pay as well.

      Before you go off on your conspiracy theory tangent... The vast majority of bans in this situation seem to have had Cheat Engine (or a similar third party exe) at least running in the background while playing, even if it wasn't being used to alter Fallout 76 at the time its still something their anti-cheat looks for.

      Not that I care to defend Bethesda, but how about we don't just go assuming whatever we want simply because it fits the "They're evil!" rhetoric?

        I've not stated they are evil. rather based on the progression of things it's fairly likely they want to control mods in general. My point isn't strictly based in Fallout 76 but, the fact that Bethesda is trying to get a tighter grip on mods and how they can benefit from them as they have been doing for some time.

        Thankyou for assuming my intentions though. Bethesda isn't evil but, they are definitely drifting further and further away from their consumer base.

          I didn't assume anything... You talk about Bethesda wanting to benefit from people's unpaid labour. Then what you offer up as 'evidence' of this progression was paid Steam mods, in which mod creators were actually to be paid for their labour, and then the Creation Club for which Bethesda has also been paying modders for.

          You don't even see that Bethesda benefit far more from the 'unpaid labour' you speak of by freely allowing modding of their games... Modding that increases a game's lifespan and draw with absolutely no cost to Bethesda at all.

          Instead all they've actually been doing so far is the exact opposite, offering to pay modders for their labour... How dare they I guess.

    Bethesda should have their staff write essays about how it's not okay to release monumentally broken games.

    So Bethesda literally believe they have actual authority now and the ability to make legislative decisions on behalf of gamers? No thanks.
    They’re the Scientology of developers now.

      Don't be ridiculous. It's a multiplayer game, they not only have the authority but the responsibility to ensure players don't cheat, because cheaters ruin the experience for everyone else.

        Everyone ruins everything for everyone else these days. Doesn’t mean their should be essays written as a punishment from a fucking developer, you human tit. That shit is school punishment, not online gaming.

          First, name calling is petty and does nothing to advance the conversation. I didn't insult you, don't insult me.

          Cheating in a multiplayer game shows a complete lack of regard for the time and experience of other people. It's also a super easy rule to follow - don't cheat. If someone is evidently immature enough to not be able to follow such a simple rule, they're banned. If they want to be unbanned, they need to demonstrate that they understand why what they did was a problem. An essay (or call it was it basically is, an appeal) is simply there to show that understanding. It's a higher bar than a fake 'yeah I'm sorry I totally won't do it again I swear' cop out.

          Or in short, act like a child, get punished like a child. Don't want to write an essay? Don't cheat in the first place.

            What if you were useng a wide screen mod that caused a false positive?

              That never happened. The guy who reported that edited his post later to say he'd made it up and mocked people for accepting what he'd said at face value with no evidence.

            You are so one of those Kotaku guys, ZJ. The kind people now reference in Urban Dictionary articles. That's not a good place to be. I'm glad I'm not so many people on this site.
            You all wait until there's something to get agitated about and then gang up in fits of recreational outrage.
            I'm sorry. You are a human tit. The name calling is justified. You tit.

              I see from the date that you wrote this a while ago, but it's only just been approved.

              It's telling about your state of mind that rather than just introspect on the fact you said something dumb and got downvoted for it, you'd prefer to believe the fiction that people are deriving entertainment from faux outrage over your clearly incisive thoughts. It's a useful fiction for you, because it absolves you of being responsible for the dumb thing you said in the first place - obviously it's everyone else that's the problem, it can't possibly be you. Easier to just make a clumsy attack on the other person instead.

              People downvoted your second comment more your first because you threw out a petty little insult, as would a child, while trying to argue that people shouldn't be treated like children. You showed that you're a hypocrite. And instead of reflecting on why twelve people downvoted that comment and not a single one upvoted it, you doubled down and repeated the same insult (accompanied by a petulant little foot-stamp of a faux apology) and proved everyone else right - that you really are hypocrite acting like a child.

              I don't think you'll grasp why you were in the wrong even now. Plow blindly forward, never reflect on or admit your mistakes. Maybe you'll even reply, trying to shift the blame again. Or, maybe you'll surprise me and apologise - a real one, not the thing you put in your last paragraph. It'd certainly go a ways to repairing the damage you've done to yourself (with me at least), but to be blunt, I'm not sure it's something you're capable of.

            Whilst I agree that cheating in general is bad. What if the gameplay itself is terrible on its own that pushes people into cheating to have fun. Like when you finished GTA, and you wanna mess around with jetpacks and spawn tanks.

            Or in (more relevant) a multiplayer game like ARK where faster taming was considered a "cheat" server, but now it's normal because sitting and taming a dinosaur for 12 real hours is ridiculous, especially with tens of other players being able to sabotage your tame.

            I'm not saying we should allow cheating, but instead of blaming cheaters, I feel like we should look at the coin from both sides. Why are they cheating? Is it because of the disaster of a launch? The fact that Bethesda kind of lost their minds on this product. The fact that they're selling blue tint for power armor for 18 bucks maybe tipped someone over the line "if they don't care about consumers we don't care about you" type of mentality?

            I, for one, don't blame them for cheating. Anything to make a bad game feel good. Especially a game you're not allowed to refund. If, however, they're cheating at the cost of the fun of others (non-cheaters) then yes, ban them.

            The fact that Bethesda called NexusMods a bad website is still iffy in my head, that seems like a lie from whoever reported that. If that were truly the case, I can't justify the way Bethesda responded to them. Plus, they didn't ask them not to cheat again, just to write an essay about why it is bad. Someone could write 3 paragraphs of bull, get unbanned, then start cheating again. It just proves that Bethesda likes being in control, rather than taking the authoritative stance and just outright banning players for cheating. There's a difference between being in control and being an authoritative figure.

            Also, dunno where this topic belongs, they changed the experience grind to be longer without telling the community about it. That could definitely frustrate some players into tipping over the line. Either out of frustration of being held in the dark, or just gameplay itself.

            Anyways, been ranting for so long, I feel like I can write an essay on this alone, haha.

            TL;DR : Don't blindly agree that cheaters are bad, there's usually a bigger reasoning, or just a fun factor.

              If you're on a train and there's a guy smoking cigars despite the 'no smoking' signs everywhere, and the smoke is making everyone else's trip awful, are you going to wonder what the reasons for them smoking is and muse that if only the train service provided cigars in the first place then he wouldn't feel the need to smoke his own? Of course not. He's breaking the rules and imposing his individual wants on everyone else there.

              Nobody was banned for using UI mods, or inventory sorting mods; the only bans were for running DLL injectors and memory scanners. There are tens of thousands of people playing Fallout 76, plenty of them have issues with the game, but the vast majority of them aren't so selfish to think that they'll take it upon themselves to cheat to make their experience different at the expense of everyone else.

      of course they have authority it is an always online multiplayer and pvp game, sure Bethesda has made some terrible mistakes but they have absolute authority over the game world, in the interest of fairness to all

    Yeah. I bet a bunch of them decided to go and play a good game, instead.

    Irony: being banned for cheating by a game developer that lies, bait and switches and outright takes money under false pretenses.

      Banning cheaters in a multiplayer game is what we want them to do, surely?

        What's the point in cheating in FO76? It's not as if it's competitive...and to put a cherry on top, the devs included the ability to wreck someone's game intentionally with nukes.

        I would suggest that the reality of the situation is that Beth is forcing out anyone using non-Atom Shop mods, having failed to institute an actual lockout in their programming. This was something that was discussed in the gaming community sometime back, and was considered a strong possibility after the Creation Club was rolled out. The obvious step after introducing their own mod hosting service was to restrict the use of any mods other than their own.

        Initially, Beth was on shaky legal ground as they had basically given tacit consent for external mods, but I believe they may have tidied things up legally, so that only their own 'content' can be used in game.

        So I'd suggest that 'cheating' is probably the wrong terminology, and from Beth's viewpoint it is simply denial of a practice which is robbing them of potential income.

        In other words, from Beth's perspective it boils down to two possibilities: 'Community spirited' or 'greed'. I'll bank on it being 'greed'.

        Last edited 27/12/18 4:51 pm

          Looks like your comment just got approved.

          Fallout 76 has competitive elements, firstly. But even if it didn't, people cheat in non-competitive games and even single player games too. The primary focus for a developer should be whether people cheat and stopping that from happening to maintain the integrity of the game for everyone else; their second focus should be on why.

          Bethesda didn't ban anyone that used mods from the Nexus. The only report that suggested that (the widescreen mod) came from someone who edited their post later to say he was lying and mocked everyone who believed him at face value with no evidence. That post has subsequently been removed for breaking the subreddit rules.

          You can use Nexus mods right now. Bethesda's official stance is that they're okay as long as they don't give a gameplay advantage and they're completely unsupported. This isn't 'shaky legal ground' and they haven't 'tidied' anything up, this remains their official stance. You can run the inventory sorting mod, or the widescreen fix, no problem.

          What will happen with gameplay-altering mods is they'll come through the Creation Club (paid or free, doesn't matter) because they need to be applied on the server instance, and the version running on the server then needs to be applied to the clients. It's a multiplayer game, it won't be permitted to run gameplay-altering mods client-side only because that's effectively cheating, and server-authority logic needs to be changeable which necessitates the mod being installable on the server through some mechanism. This is a perfectly reasonable approach to allowing multiplayer mods, and with the self-hosting exception it's essentially the same as how server mods work in other games too.

          Saying they 'failed to institute a lockout' is mischaracterising the situation. The people that were banned were using DLL injectors, which I can confirm as a software developer myself is notoriously difficult - often impossible - to detect and prevent. Almost every working cheat in every game out there these days is based on DLL injection. This is a deeper topic that I'm happy to have with you separated out from this one if you like.

          To reiterate, mods on the whole are not banned. Only gameplay-altering mods are considered cheating, as are DLL injectors and memory scanners. Your suggestions and theories about what Bethesda is doing and why aren't consistent with their official statements nor what they're actually doing. I appreciate that you have a particular personal view of Bethesda, but you seem to be ascribing (and embellishing) their actions to fit your view rather than the other way around. Your theories may or may not end up correct, but right now there's no actual evidence to support them, while there is evidence to the contrary.

          In light of that, Occam's razor applies - the simplest explanation (that they're just banning cheaters) is preferred over more complicated ones (eg. that there's an as-yet unconfirmed scheme to push people to buy mods through their store and the bans are really to pave the way for that).

    The title of the embedded Reddit post is pure clickbait nonsense, as is the ResetEra thread. Bethesda isn't asking 'modders' to write an essay on why 'mods' are bad, they're asking cheaters to write an essay on why cheating is bad in a multiplayer game.

    Reshade is not a mod and it's not innocuous, it's a DirectX injector that is easily used to cheat (eg. making enemies bright white for easier aiming, clearing fog, adding lighting to darkness). It's banned in a bunch of games including PUBG, Escape from Tarkov, Squad, etc, not just Fallout 76.

    The others were banned for running Cheat Engine. All the verified reports so far come from those two pieces of software.

    Bottom line: you can't use modifications or third party software that gives you an unfair advantage over other players. That goes for pretty much every online game, Fallout 76 is no different.

    I mean, mods aren't available yet for a reason. When they are, we'll know about it.

    I would've thought that the MP in FO76 is so superficial that cheating can't be that big a problem?

      Multiplayer is as meaningful in F76 as it is in an MMO. That is, it's designed so that you can play solo if you choose, but the intent is to play with others and that's where the meat of the fun stems from.

      Duels, PVP, workshop defences and bounty hunting happen all the time. Preventing cheating is integral to maintaining an even playing field for those activities.

    Aww come on this is clearly horseshit. Why would Bethesda (1) bother unbanning cheaters and (2) make work for themselves in this way?
    Or (and I favour this explanation) there is reasonably low level employee at Bethesda with a wicked sense of humour - “for our management team to review”?? That’s comedy gold.

    I have 2 friends who bought this game, and are so disappointed they deliberately got themselves banned so they wouldn't have to see any more notifications on their screens playing better games. Personally, Bethesda should refund everyone, those who keep it and those who don't. Anyone who defends this abomination doesn't ever deserve to complain about any other game ever, period! Including Kotaku.

    I saw this blow up on Reddit a couple of days ago yet no one had actual proof. I still haven't seen any proof in regards to this topic so I'm afraid I just don't believe this story.

    games a dud why would they even care at this point … crashes bugs etc etc
    maybe they should stfu and employ these people to make there games:)

    It’s pretty hilarious if it is true.

    I think there is a big difference between all players consenting to use a particular mod and one player unilaterally enabling a mod and effectively playing a different game to everyone else.

    With the Counter-Strike example, you wouldn't have one person playing CS while everyone else in the game was playing vanilla Half Life, for instance. You really want these sort of things to be instance-level rather than player-level.

    @Zombie Jesus I'm over my [unpopular] opinions being a source of resentment towards me from people who feel entitled to jump on the attack wagon. Kotaku has a toxic culture of conformity and the downvote system feeds it. I don't wanna be a part of it. I've already removed Kotaku from my favourites, and I'm slowly moving away from my decade long attachment to it.
    So don't worry. I'm phasing myself out so I don't inflict myself on other and others don't limit how I think, talk or express myself. There are so many places online where I don't have to deal with this biz. The fact that the Kotaku community makes me often feel like an Atheist in church is not something I want for me.

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