An Open Letter to Bethesda Softworks

The following is a little note to explain and expound on how to lose customers.


Dear Bethesda Softworks and Zenimax,

How are you? I’m not so hot. In fact, I’m really upset by several of the actions you both have and have not taken with quite possibly one of the best and longest running CRPGs out there: The Elder Scrolls. In fact, I’m rather surprised that someone hasn’t brought this to your attention. If they have and you’ve ignored it, then you really have issues.

First, thank you for allowing me into the closed beta for The Elder Scrolls Online MMO. I’ve been a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series since Arena, and have played the latest, Skyrim, nigh incessantly. It was with great happiness that I got the invitation to take part in what I hope will give World of Warcraft a run for its money. I logged in the first weekend, ran around a bit, and sent in the survey that was sent to me. Then I got re-invited for another weekend, which was nice.

Not to worry; I won’t expose any of the secrets that might be in the beta, as I did sign that onerous document of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In fact, I won’t be exposing any of the secrets from the latest beta weekend because I was completely unable to access the game. More to the point, I spent about an hour trying to log in to both the game itself and the ESO site to try and figure out just what I was doing wrong. I figured I had the wrong password, so I reset it. After being unable to access the site, I reset it again. Both times the reset was successful. From there, I figured something was wrong with my account, so I sent in a query to support. Here’s the text of that message:

I’ve been trying to log in to the beta and I’m unable to do so. I have attempted to log in to the site and have been told that my password was incorrect. I have reset my password twice and am still unable to sign in. Please advise, as I am still hopeful for this game.

Simple, direct and to the point, or so I thought. I sent that Friday evening at 10pm EST. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, Sunday evening, which is when the beta weekend ended, I get the following response:

Thank you for contacting The Elder Scrolls Online Team.

You can reset your password or recover your UserID by going to (password reset link) and click on “Forgot UserID” or “Forgot Password”.

This will send you a link to your email address where you can reset your password or see what your UserID is.

If this doesn’t work for some reason, please respond to this email and let us know the details on what goes wrong.

Thank you for your continued interest and support!


Yes, I know, there were thousands upon thousands of fellow geeks accessing and playing and screwing up both the game and the site that weekend. I understand that. What I don’t understand is how it took nearly two complete days to just send back a form letter, a) telling me to do what I had already done, and b) too late to do anything about it. That kind of customer service is abominable, and for that, my interest in the Elder Scrolls Online has waned to nil. Should I get another invite, I’ll test it, and I will not be anywhere near as kind as I might have been before. I also will not be purchasing the game when it comes out. Why, you may ask?

Because if this is how a customer is treated for a game that in the first place makes no sense, why would I waste my money?

Allow me to expand on the penultimate part of that question, and remind you, Bethesda Softworks, just what made the Elder Scrolls games so awesome. From Arena to Skyrim, TES has been a single-player experience, and it has done that exceptionally well. With Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, you showed you could make an open-world game the likes that beggared the imagination. Skyrim was and is phenomenal, and I play it even now, over two years after its release. The point is, TES games have one person as the star of the show, which is impossible in an MMO. That goes against everything TES has set up over the many years it has been released. The premise of the Elder Scrolls Online makes no sense from a gameplay standpoint. It’s just a terrible idea.

Now, I know my opinion doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. In fact, likely only one in ten thousand had similar issues. I neither know nor care just how many took part in the closed beta. All I know is I could not participate, and I was essentially given a form letter telling me too bad. That tells me all I need to know about where my money will be going.

The purpose of this letter is simply to state that you did exactly the wrong thing when it comes to both making a game and customer service. I’m not writing this for anything but to bring to your attention that you did the precise opposite of what it takes to keep a customer, especially one who would have been willing to give you money. Alas, it will not be happening, and it might be a good while before I purchase another Bethesda or Zenimax game.

In closing, I’m sorry it had to come to this, but it’s not me. It’s you, and I will continue to hope that something good comes out of your studio that I can enjoy. Unfortunately, it won’t be ESO, and that is the greatest shame about the whole thing. Good luck to you on your future endeavors.


John Walker, author, blogger, and fan of the Elder Scrolls as they should be.


Yeah, folks, I know: first-world geek problems. However, this kind of thing is endemic of the current world. Too many people get garbage service and just accept it because they think it won’t do any good. I plan on showing my displeasure as I always do: with my wallet. I don’t shop at Target because I don’t trust the security, nor at Wal-Mart for various other reasons. Bethesda did a lot of things right over the years, with a misstep here and there (Battlespire, I’m looking at you), but a huge majority of the time, they did an outstanding job putting out an outstanding product. I see that, unfortunately, the success has gone to their heads, and with that, we must part ways for a while. Not long, I hope, as with rumors of Fallout 4 coming out (and likely MMO, which deadens some excitement for the title, but only a little), I will come back. It will be with a jaundiced eye, though.

Just a damned shame.

~ by Walker on January 19, 2014.

One Response to “An Open Letter to Bethesda Softworks”

  1. Reblogged this on THE HARPY'S GUILD:AZURA.

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