Fallout 76 is in a Bad Place, and Bethesda May Not Be Able to Fix It

I haven't waded into the massively multiplayer post-apocalyptic wasteland to have an opinion of my own, but according to a new editorial on Polygon, they believe that "Fallout 76 is in a bad place, and Bethesda may not be able to fix it". This section on the game's "duping" problem comes as quite a surprise - any such exploits are usually aggressively fixed and players banned within hours or days in other MMORPGs:
Bethesda failed to fix many of the exploits identified early in the game’s life fast enough to limit their damage. The biggest of them involves duplicating (or “duping”) items infinitely, which has turned a game that needed a little bit of help to succeed into a game that’s currently in crisis.

I won’t describe the process here, but instructions are easy enough to find online. Players can turn one powerful weapon into two, then duplicate that stack of two into four, then into eight, and so on. A player may end up with rare items numbering in the thousands in their inventory. And players like these are the people you’ll be meeting, teaming up with, or fighting in the game’s world. How do you expect to measure up if you’re playing fairly?

Players who dupe items have all but destroyed Fallout 76’s community, and Bethesda has yet to find a way to fix the problem. People have even been able to exploit clipping issues and item duping to access developer-only rooms filled with every item in the game, which can then also be duped. Suddenly, there are a thousand copies of one powerful endgame item, and anyone can have one if they find the right person to ask.

Well, anyone willing to break the rules, anyway. And what’s the risk in doing so when everyone is breaking the rules?

Plus, all these items are also sold through third-party services, where dealers take your money in exchange for dropping off in the game whatever item you purchase. Diablo 3 launched with a real-money auction house that eventually proved too problematic and was removed from the game. Blizzard took steps to adjust, and protect, Diablo 3’s economy. Bethesda needs to do the same, and quickly, even if controlling the flow of items through outside services may prove to be more difficult.

The community itself tried to fight back, but it didn’t help. Players used to hunt down dupers, but the charm of playing vigilante wore off once it became clear that stripping dupers of hundreds or thousands of items did nothing to improve the situation. You can’t hurt the cheating players when cheating is so easy and the repercussions are so minimal.

Worse yet, overeager players would sometimes target innocent non-dupers, leading to encounters where vigilantes would attack random Vault Dwellers for refusing to show their inventory or hanging around their CAMP for too long. Now even those well-intentioned players are met with suspicion throughout the Fallout 76 community.