Vice President of Bethesda Softworks, Pete Hines, has gone into detail about why game studios need to evolve.
Hines praised Ikumi Nakamura, the creative director behind Ghostwire: Tokyo, saying she worked hard to learn English to present her game, as she felt that her personality would be lost with a translator. Having the creative leads behind the project present the game is part of Bethesda’s new philosophy of openness, which has been partially inspired by the response to Fallout: 76.
As Hines puts it, Nakamura represented a huge shift for the company as they have needed to tackle a cultural and logistical challenge. Meetings between studios would have to be carefully scheduled across time zones and, while cultural significance is important, the overall product still needed to fit within the Bethesda umbrella. Hines also explained that while studios are free to pitch ideas, the teams do not have total creative control as Bethesda can— and does—step in to ensure the game aligns with Bethesda’s style.
In a rather shocking statement, Hines explains that nothing is sacred and the company is willing to strip a project back to the drawing board to make it better overall. An example Hines uses is Oblivion where the team was prepared to completely abandon Morrowind’s mechanics to make it better.
Part of the reason behind the “nothing is sacred” mentality is the goal to keep evolving with the times to avoid games (particularly ones in a series) from becoming too repetitive. While this may be slightly ironic considering the publisher has released Skyrim four different times, this new approach seems to be turning heads, as evidenced by DOOM Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.
The focus behind the DOOM sequel was to double down on what the fans loved about the previous game by pushing for more demons while making DOOM Guy faster and more aggressive. Even Wolfenstein: Youngblood started as a way to refresh the story mode by introducing BJ’s twin daughters. Originally, one of the twins was simply an NPC that would assist the player; not until much later did the idea to make the other sister playable in co-op spring to life.
This new direction may have been influenced by the backlash against Fallout 76. However, Hines sees the feedback as a unique learning curve. The way Bethesda will be more open with the gaming community, regarding live titles such as 76, is to increase the company’s communication whether that be via more detailed patch notes or by sharing the planned roadmap.
While Bethesda has had a rough patch in the eyes of gamers, the publisher is clearly attempting to make amends by listening to that feedback and acting on it.