In the virtual world of Fallout 76, Gun Runners are making thousands in real-world cash

December 17, 2019
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For some reason I’m rapidly accruing a collection of dumb stories about my time in multiplayer games – and seeing as the Rust murder tale went down so well, I thought I’d recount another. This time it’s about my brief foray into the world of Fallout 76 virtual gunrunning, which has since escalated into a detailed look at the life of the traders making serious bank from selling Fallout 76 items. I don’t know how I ended up here.

Back in January, when the first wave of Fallout 76 backlash was at its peak, vast swathes of the Fallout subreddits were busy complaining about in-game glitches – and in particular, a cheating method called duping. It’s a process by which players exploit a bug to duplicate items, with potentially game-breaking consequences if uncontrolled numbers of top-tier items suddenly flood a community and upset the balance. It’s a phenomenon witnessed in other online games, but for Fallout 76 it was perceived as a serious problem by the community – with Bethesda constantly playing whac-a-mole trying to patch out new glitch methods as they appeared.

Over on eBay, some enterprising hustlers capitalised on the mess by creating their own cottage industry. Using the various duplication methods, the eBay accounts started selling dozens of Fallout 76’s most valuable items. Fallout 76, of course, doesn’t sell guns in its Atomic Shop on account of Bethesda’s pledge to avoid pay-to-win microtransactions (although some argue it’s already broken this pledge) – which means there’s a market for gameplay-affecting items such as weapons and armour (and the raw in-game money and materials to acquire these). Then the secret dev room was discovered and unreleased items started appearing – a problem that hasn’t quite gone away, judging by some recent listings.

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