More than 120 million people have played Fallout Shelter, the mobile game created by Bethesda as part of its Fallout post-apocalypse franchise. And tonight, Bethesda Game Studios said it has published Fallout Shelter on the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch. The game is available for free, and it will presumably have in-app items you can purchase with real money.
Todd Howard, the head of Bethesda Game Studios, made the announcement at the Bethesda Showcase event ahead of the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Back in 2015, Bethesda shipped more than 12 million copies of the post-apocalypse video game Fallout 4 during the holiday season — a stellar achievement. But Fallout Shelter, the mobile game released in June 2015 during a fan event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, managed to hit more than 12 million downloads in a day, according to Bethesda creative director Todd Howard in an earlier interview with GamesBeat.
Fallout Shelter went on to hit 120 million downloads, far outpacing the reach of the console games in the series. In fact, Howard said that is more than all of Bethesda’s other games combined.
That’s an astonishing result, and it presents high-end game studios, known as triple-A game makers, with a quandary: Should they continue to work on titles like Fallout 4, which took a team of 100 people more than four years to develop before it launched last November? That game earned a Game of the Year award at the DICE Awards, the Oscars of gaming, and it generated an estimated $750 million in sales.
Or should they pour more resources into mobile games, which can generate $500 million to $1.5 billion per year if they break into the top-three grossing list, as Fallout Shelter did for a brief time during the summer of 2015. Fallout Shelter was designed to draw attention to Fallout 4, but it wasn’t made to last. Its success surprised everyone, including Bethesda.
Or do both? And that’s what Bethesda is doing, as it also discussed triple-A productions such as Fallout 76 and Rage 2 today.
Now, a few years later, Bethesda is taking another swing. I hope that it has learned some lessons about how to properly monetize mobile games and keep them going through live operations.