Bethesda is dropping its launcher in favor of a return to Steam

Fallout 3
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

The Bethesda launcher debuted in 2016 as the home for games from Bethesda and its studios, including id Software and Arkane. It was functional but bare-bones: As we said in 2018, "Bethesda's launcher seems to be designed more as a pretty interface to purchase Bethesda's games than a way of managing them." Not having to give Valve a 30% cut of sales was no doubt nice, but the launcher apparently hasn't paid off in quite the way Bethesda hoped, because in April it's going away entirely in favor of a full recommitment to Steam.

Solid dates haven't been announced yet, but users with games on Bethesda's launcher will be able to transfer them to Steam beginning sometime in early April. Detailed instructions will be provided when the time comes, but the process will include all the games in your library and your launcher wallet—"You will not lose anything from your account," Bethesda said.

Most saved games will also transfer to Steam (one exception, for reasons unexplained, being Wolfenstein: Youngblood), although some will require manual transfers—details on that will also be provided later. Friends lists in games that use them through the Bethesda launcher will also be merged into Steam. 

Despite the shift back onto Steam, existing accounts aren't going away: They will continue to exist and be used for logging into games and services that require it, like Fallout 76. Speaking of which, Bethesda confirmed in a separate FAQ that Fallout 76 players will not lose anything as a result of the move. 

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"We’re taking every precaution to ensure your Fallout 76 characters, progression, Atoms, Season progress, cosmetics, rewards, your friends list, and even the Perfectly Preserved Pies you’ve been hoarding, make that journey with you," it says. "In addition, your account will remain accessible on our website, and you will still use it to log into and play Fallout 76."

Bethesda is urging launcher users to begin moving their games and content to Steam as soon as possible once the transfer option is available: launcher functionality will apparently come to an end at the end of April.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.