Bethesda has confirmed that they won’t be releasing Fallout 76 on Steam instead, opting for downloads via Bethesda.net.
Since the dawn of history, mankind has displayed a powerful pull towards self-destruction: The Romans used lead pipes to carry their drinking water, Napoleon and Hitler tried to conquer Russia during Winter, Coca-Cola released New Coke, and now we see possibly the greatest example of suicidal behavior in human history. Bethesda has decided not to release Fallout 76 on Steam, instead preferring to use their own platform Bethesda.net.
Now, I imagine you already understand why this is a terrible move. Steam has dominated the PC gaming platform scene for nearly two decades, standing atop the fallen corpses of its competitors. Remember Uplay? Origin? Even the mighty Microsoft failed to oust Valve from the top spot with its Games for Windows Live service (and now the Windows Store). I can only imagine that Todd Howard has grown to despise himself after years of marketing Skyrim’s release on iPhones, toasters, and easy-bake ovens, and now sub-consciously wishes to tear down Bethesda from the inside.
It is likely that the stated reason will be that Bethesda wishes to try to grow their own platform, and what better way to do that than to use one of the biggest franchises around to promote it. This tactic is effectively Bethesda holding Fallout 76 as a hostage, forcing fans to use their no doubt inferior platform. Additionally, Valve takes around a 30% cut of the sale of any game on Steam, and we all know how much Bethesda love money (see the aforementioned re-releases of Skyrim as an example of that).
It is possible that the game will see a Steam release eventually, as Fallout Shelter also took around a year to eventually come out on Steam. I imagine that the pressure of PC fans will speed this process along too.
It’s not all bad news for people eagerly awaiting Fallout 76, though. Bethesda has also announced more information about the upcoming Beta for the game (or the B.E.T.A. as they so cleverly have named it). The beta will contain the full game, unlike the usual tiny betas most studios release. Additionally, all progress made in the beta will carry over into the main game once it launches, so none of you will be losing those recreational nukes you will be cultivating.
The Fallout 76 beta is scheduled to release in October on Xbox One first, followed by PlayStation 4 and PC, though not on Steam. The game will then launch on all those platforms on November 14.