RIP Bethesda Launcher: Here’s how its almost complete transfer to Steam will work

Enlarge / Bethesda will finally have its publisher-exclusive PC games launcher starting in April.

Getty Images/Sam Machkovech

In a welcome change of pace, a video game maker announced the retirement of a “launcher” app for PC, instead of announcing and releasing another in a crowded marketplace.

Lance Bethesda, as maintained by the game maker and publisher of the same name, will be completely shut down at some point in “May,” the company announced tuesday. Fortunately, affected users will be able to transfer every BL purchase and license to Valve’s Steam storefront from “early April”.

The FAQ in this week’s announcement doesn’t specify exactly how license transfers will be handled, leaving us to assume that users will log in with their affected credentials to a website and receive a list of Steam redemption codes. . In promising news, Bethesda is insisting that all paid DLC and microtransaction currencies for all games will seamlessly transfer to Steam releases, as long as players log into a account during gameplay. It is the same Fallout 76of the “Fallout 1st” subscription, although recurring subscriptions managed through BL do not automatically renew in April and beyond. These users will need to set up a new subscription plan through the Steam version of the game.

Some save files may require manual copying and pasting from an old Bethesda Launcher folder to a new Steam folder, while others will automatically transfer over, likely via account linking. All BL-managed friends lists will also carry over to Steam via credentials.

I’ve had 76 problems…

Start the existing Bethesda launcher from today and you will see this warning.  The same thing appears when trying to access the

Start the existing Bethesda launcher from today and you will see this warning. The same thing appears when trying to access the “store” inside the launcher.


When Bethesda Launcher arrived in 2016, it was the latest in a series of publisher-specific PC game launchers that aimed to redirect Steam’s 30% revenue cut straight into game makers’ coffers. On paper, this decision made sense for companies that had already invested in gaming infrastructure as a service; how hard could just one more EXE be?

Of course, all of Steam’s major competitors have learned the hard way by fumbling through feature rollouts and quality of life tweaks. But Bethesda Launcher in particular suffered because it required PC gamers to move away from Steam’s mod-friendly ecosystem, which breathed meaningful life into Bethesda’s ambitious but buggy duo. Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrimand to the gated, controlled, and microtransaction-filled garden of Creation Club.

Two years later, Fallout 76The PC-exclusive launch on Bethesda Launcher has done little to kickstart fan adoption. By the time the game started receiving major content updates, it had already shaken off its BL exclusivity and landed on Steam.

The publisher’s move from an exclusive launcher to Steam follows parent company Microsoft making a similar move after Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced that many of his company’s first-party games with PC versions would be released. launched simultaneously on Steam and the Windows Store. . Since that 2016 statement, all modern Microsoft PC game launches have indeed met that pledge, though the biggest exception on that front remains Xbox Game Pass, whose PC tier still revolves entirely around the Windows Store. Although other publishers have embraced Steam more firmly in recent years, some have done so with the unpleasant requirement of having their own launchers running in the background.

Bethesda no doubt has some business reason for dumping its launcher, anyway: its propensity to accidentally launch DRM-free versions of games on this interface. And it does not mean that the game creator uses exclusive launchers, because The Elder Scrolls Online will continue to support a standalone launcher, just like other popular MMOs.

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