Lawyers Circle Wounded Bethesda Over Fallout 76 Debacle And Refund Policy
Given that such a buggy release isn't something that a paying customer wants to put up with, some gamers have taken up the issue with Bethesda asking for a refund. Last week, we reported on one such gamer (via reddit) that claimed they were able to receive a full refund from Bethesda after complaining. Early this week, however, another redditor alleged that they were initially told by Bethesda that they could receive a refund, only to have that offer retracted.
Needless to say, there was a lot out outrage from gamers on reddit over this change of heart by Bethesda. And now a law firm has stepped in to investigate Bethesda's return policy for its games -- specifically Fallout 76. Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, which is based in Washington, DC, says that Fallout 76 is "heavily glitched" and that Bethesda is "refusing to issue refunds for PC purchasers of the game who found it to be unplayable because of its technical problems."
The law firm goes on to add that minor bugs can be expected from any new game release (and that has been the case with Bethesda games in the past), but that Fallout 76 has in particular reached a new low. "Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game’s myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state," the firm alleges.
However, adding to the confusion, Bethesda's own return policy states that once a game has been delivered, it cannot be returned for a refund. Bethesda's support page notes:
If you would like to cancel or get a refund for your Bethesda.net Digital Store pre-order or pre-purchase, you can contact Bethesda Customer Support. Please note that once a game has been released and its game code has been delivered, you will not be able to receive a refund for your order (except as required by applicable law).
Likewise, Digital River's distribution service Terms of Sale also backs up this assertion, stating:
Save to the extent provided for in any applicable License Terms, your rights of return and/or to a refund under these Terms and any applicable Returns Policy do not apply in the event that you open the Software shrink-wrap and/or break the license seal and/or use the Software.
It's quite possible that Bethesda refunded the first redditor as a one-time courtesy. However, once the story picked up traction across the internet, it's likely that the company received an influx of refund requests, causing it to retreat to its clear-cut refund policy.
But as we've seen from the statement by Migliaccio & Rathod LLP, some view the return policy combined with the incredibly buggy nature of the game as falling under “deceptive trade practices.” The law firm indicates that it has "years of experience in class action litigation against large corporations", so it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming weeks and months. It should be noted that there is no current legal action being taken against Bethesda regarding this matter or Fallout 76.