Microtransactions are a hot-button issue in video games, and Fallout 76 has drawn a lot of heat for purchasable gameplay items in the Atomic Shop, which was originally meant to be reserved for cosmetics only. Players accused Bethesda of transforming Fallout 76 into a pay-to-win game on top of a standard AAA game price. Now it seems that Bethesda is putting those accusations to rest, in that it's introducing a premium membership that gives players not only atoms and in-game items, but also the ability to create private servers.
Today, Bethesda announced the launch of a new premium subscription service “Fallout 1st,” which costs $12.99 a month or $99.99 a year. It will include some cosmetic items, including icons and emotes, as well as the somewhat lore-breaking NCR Ranger armor from Fallout: New Vegas. However, Fallout 1st also includes in-game features, specifically a scrapbox that lets you hold an unlimited amount of junk (although things like weapons, armor, and ammo still take up place in your stash) and a survival tent, which acts like a mini C.A.M.P. The survival tent provides an especially egregious in-game advantage, because not only does it allow players to strategically set up free fast travel points to save caps, it also lets players unload their burdens into their stash on the go and heal up by sleeping for a short time.
Fallout 1st also includes the ability to set up private servers, a long-awaited feature to the game. Private worlds can hold a maximum of eight players and the host can invite friends to play from the social menu. Players do not have to be Fallout 1st subscribers to join a private world, but the world’s host does.
Additionally, players get 1650 atoms per month for every month they are subscribed to Fallout 1st. Considering that 500 atoms costs $4.99, this isn’t a terrible deal, and almost pays for the subscription itself. Of course, now that gameplay items are in the Atom shop, this further contributes to the accusations of pay-to-win practices in Fallout 76. If someone is willing and able to fork over the money for a Fallout 1st subscription, they not only get useful gameplay items, but a lot of atoms to buy plenty of repair kits in the Atomic Shop.
It seems odd that Bethesda would introduce Fallout 1st in the first place. After so many accusations of freemium business practices, there's no way to think this move would generate goodwill for the company or the Fallout series in general. Perhaps they believe that the revenue gained from fans will outweigh the detractors. Regardless, Bethesda may experience some backlash from this move.