In light of shutting down their Bethesda.net Launcher, Bethesda Softworks began transferring some of its RPG and shooter titles — that were previously exclusively available on their retiring launcher — to the Steam digital storefront. But what makes this transfer so interesting is that some of those titles are free. It’s worth noting that games’ pages don’t mention any promotional period, so they’re likely to remain free, at least for a time.
According to Polygon, 1994’s The Elder Scrolls: Arena, 1996’s The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory have arrived on Steam ahead of Bethesda’s own game launcher retiring in less than two weeks. Next to the two Elder Scrolls titles, Bethesda also moved their lesser-known and more obscure spin-offs, 1998’s The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard and 1997’s The Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire. Here’s Bethesda’s announcement:
However, it’s worth noting that only Arena, Daggerfall, and Enemy Territory are currently free at Valve’s digital storefront, while Redguard and Battlespire sell for approx. $6 each. It’s worth noting that there’s no indication from Bethesda that these are temporary deals, mistakes, or free offerings by design. Bethesda was offering Arena for free since 2004 and Daggerfall since 2009, but given its current shift, that might’ve come under revision, and the company decided to change its mind and price these deals later — though it’s highly unlikely that’s the case.
It’s also worth noting that the free games, though parts of two very popular franchises, are older titles, released in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and haven’t aged particularly well in some ways. It’s entirely reasonable to expect some compatibility issues when trying to run these titles. The monster PC of that era had only 32MB (yes, you read it right — megabytes) of RAM, and Bethesda’s Daggerfall, for example, required only 8MB of RAM to run.
Gamers of that era might even remember the NVIDIA GeForce 256 SDR, which was released in 1999 and had an astonishing 32MB of VRAM while using an AGP 4x interface. Imagine going back to 1999 and telling an average gamer that your GPU has a bigger RAM capacity than his entire hard drive (most commercial HDDs from 1999 had only 8GB capacity). So, yes, you can expect some compatibility issues when trying to run Bethesda’s older titles.
These issues are partially Bethesda’s fault, as the titles apparently transferred without any patches that fixed the games. It’s important to note that these were released at a time when the internet globally had approximately 40 million users and download speeds that are incomprehensible to modern users. So, patches were issued out on 1.4MB floppy disks — or, as newer generations called it, a “3D printed save icon.“
As a reminder, the Bethesda Launcher and store are shutting down for good on May 11, and Bethesda has allowed players to migrate purchased titles and wallet funds to Steam. The Elder Scroll series has been dormant for quite some time as the company switched its focus on the upcoming space-based video game Starfield, which is expected to reveal its first gameplay video on the upcoming Xbox and Bethesda showcase event, scheduled for June 2.