Fallout Shelter is shaping Bethesda’s mobile strategy

3 min read

Fallout shelter1

Bethesda, unlike the other game studios, hasn’t jumped on the mobile bandwagon. In fact, Fallout Shelter was their first real mobile release, and it has done incredibly well. However, Bethesda’s VP of marketing, Pete Hines explains that they had to release the game the way that they did, and they have to be careful of how they make future titles.

Speaking to Games Industry, Hines explained that there weren’t really any expectations for Fallout Shelter:

To be honest, I’m not sure what we expected. It’s not like we’re a pretty well-known iOS and iPhone developer where we’ve been down this road before and it’s going to go like this.


But it seemed like it ought to be pretty popular, the whole idea of, ‘This thing exists and you can go play it today.’ On the back of all the Fallout 4 stuff, we thought it would do well, but we weren’t sure how well. Suffice to say, we’re pretty pleased right now with how well it’s doing… Our expectation has been that it’s not going to stay in the top three or top five just because. It’s going to see some decay. It’s going to drop off.

Hines doesn’t see the game as a Clash of Clans competitor, though. Bethesda is trying to do something different with Fallout Shelter. He also recognized that they had to time the announcement this way. If they had announced Fallout Shelter before Fallout 4 was clearly far along in development, this would have been a very different story:

If we tried to do this last year without announcing what Bethesda Game Studios was doing [Fallout 4 for consoles and PC] and said, ‘Oh we’re doing a game and it’s on mobile and it’s called Fallout Shelter,’ we’d probably get lynched, right? There would be pitchforks at the gate. ‘That’s not the Fallout we asked for, you bastards!’ But doing it this way, they’re like, ‘I’m getting what I want and oh, by the way, while I wait here’s this other free thing that’s fun to play.’ So part of it is just how do we not get ourselves killed and make it a success? This felt like the better version of that.

Better still, he believes that mobile games need to be driven by developers. They need to be projects that developers think would be fun to implement, develop and play. It can’t be something built to be a financial success, because the developers will hate making it and the final product won’t be as enjoyable.

Bethesda, could you please go and talk to all the other game studios? Please? This is exactly the kind of policy that I wish everyone else would adopt. Fallout Shelter has been successful because it’s fun to play, and people know that it’s a cool distraction until the game that they really want is released. It’s a great way to build excitement for Fallout 4, and give people an opportunity to get reacquainted with the franchise. Now imagine if EA had done something similar with Dungeon Keeper?

Last Updated: June 30, 2015

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