Bethesda’s VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines has been doing a lot of interviews about Fallout 3 to promote the game and discuss its intricacies. Folks of the mod community will be particularly interested in this one, where he talks about Bethesda's stance on modding for Fallout 3, and in general:
RPS: There’s a Conspiracy Theory that would suggest that you’re removing the mod tools to make downloadable content more attractive. As in, if you get extra value for free, why buy the official stuff?
Hines: That’s a good theory, by the way. And probably on some level it would work… but from our standpoint, whenever we do an Elder Scrolls game and release those mod tools, it takes a ton of work and effort. This is a bigger undertaking for us, and one we’ve not yet scheduled for. Is that to say it’ll never come out? No, I’ll never say that. If we have the time, we’d absolutely like to put them out. As we’ve seen with Oblivion and Morrowind those things definitely create a sense of community and there’s tonnes of people out there modding. We have our own little blog we run from Bethesda, and every week we’re out there interviewing people from our mod community – so it’s clearly something we support, something we take interest in and something we place value in and spend a lot of time highlighting good mods. It’s just the tools take time. They don’t magically appear. Someone’s got to write help files for what all the scripts do, and get it released as a consumer product. Because it’s not in that state otherwise. Developers will make do with anything.
It brings up an interesting point, certainly, that being, why should developers bother with the mod community when they can cash in on DLC? The answer is simple: shelf life.
Another Journalist Interjecting: Also, it’s part of a PC world, which is not part of the console world which is a bigger part of the business than it might have been previously.
Hines: That’s the other thing. Yes, the PC mod community does help extend the life of a product by the number of people who are still playing it, but as we’ve seen in Oblivion, there’s still people who are playing it on the 360 in the tens of thousands two and a half years later. In insane numbers. For two years in a row we were still in the top 10 most played Xbox games in the year, with zero user-mods. So yes, I definitely think it helps extend the community – but it’s not the only thing out there. The games themselves also do lend themselves to be continuously played and replayed. So yes, it’s a good conspiracy theory, but has nothing to do with the facts. It’s just a case of “Who the hell is going to do this?” as everyone is working on getting the game done right now.
I also like to think it fosters a tighter relationship between gamers, and between gamers and the developers, money aside. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, don't it?
Oh, and for those all up in a crank about a new studio making Fallout 3, Hines says they hear you, but they've got to do what they feel good about:
"We’re aware of it and we certainly listen to it, but it’s also 'what should we do about it?' What do you do about the guy who says that your company is a travesty and you suck and you should not be making Fallout? Should I quit and go home? Okay… everyone is entitled to an opinion, but all we can really do is keep our heads down and work on the game, and make it the best game possible. We can’t go on an individual by individual basis and try and convince people of anything. The average gamer sees through that stuff in a minute. They have their own opinions. They’re very strongly held. The best we can do is present our game, and what it is which we think we do well and why it is – you, Joe Consumer – whether you play one game a year or fifty games a year might want to play Fallout 3. And hopefully convince them to go look for more information and decide for themselves that it’s something they want to play."
I understand gamers being attached to the original creators and protective of a series, it's kind of sweet really, but that kind of language and openness is something I admire in a studio either way. I'm hoping they'll bring all the freshness and potential that can come with a new studio working on an old franchise, and wind up with something superb that will win most anyone over. Pete Hines: you make me hate marketers and PR people a bit less, and that's quite something!