When Bethesda took the stage a few weeks ago to kick off E3 2015, it was no surprise that the company used the opportunity to officially showcase Fallout 4. The next installment in the post-apocalyptic role-playing game was rumored for years and a teaser cinematic trailer just before E3 left fans eagerly awaiting gameplay footage and a release date during the show. With a homerun of an E3 presentation, Bethesda offered die-hard fans all of that Fallout action and more.
In addition to an insane collector’s edition announcement (that won’t jive so well with owners of giant phones), Bethesda also revealed and released a mobile game spin-off, Fallout Shelter. The temporarily iOS-exclusive game released during the conference and immediately shot to the top of the charts on the app store. The game may have been ready for a while, but Bethesda had a pretty good reason for keeping it on deck until E3.
During a recent interview with gamesindustry.biz, Bethesda’s VP of marketing, Pete Hines, attempted to explain the team’s mobile strategy…
“If we tried to do this last year without announcing what Bethesda Game Studios was doing [Fallout 4] and said, ‘Oh we’re doing a game and it’s on mobile and it’s called Fallout Shelter,’ we’d probably get lynched, right?’.There would be pitchforks at the gate. ‘That’s not the Fallout we asked for, you bastards!’ But doing it this way, they’re like, ‘I’m getting what I want and oh, by the way, while I wait here’s this other free thing that’s fun to play.”
Although some fans of the mobile game may be wishing they could have started working on their shelter months ago, we have no doubt that Bethesda made the right call by waiting. Not only did delaying the announcements and release of the mobile game avoid any possible negative backlash, it also gave Fallout fans something to do immediately after the E3 conference. As fans rushed to the app store to quickly make the game one of the most popular titles available, Bethesda was able to get a data-driven idea of how engaged its E3 audience was.
If anyone doubts that a Fallout Shelter release prior to the Fallout 4 announcement would would have received a negative reaction, they should just rewatch the Nintendo E3 Direct and check out the reactions to those games. As gamers anxiously awaited a Metroid or Animal Crossing console experience, Nintendo instead delivered two different games based on those properties that were almost immediately written off by the vocal community of gamers. A similar reaction can be heard when Square Enix accidentally trolled its own fans by showing the Kingdom Hearts mobile game trailer before the trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3.
Fallout Shelter may be losing its appeal quickly due to a lack of any real hook (aside from the iconic IP), but game definitely achieved its goal of making us all think and talk about Fallout for weeks after E3.
Do you think Bethesda made the right choice in waiting to reveal Fallout Shelter? Are you still playing the mobile game? Let us know in the comments.
Fallout 4 is set to release on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 10, 2015.