The recent launch of Bethesda’s Creation Club has left most Fallout 4 and Skyrim mod users scratching their heads. The club was envisioned as a way for mod creators to get paid for their hard work by submitting it to a Bethesda quality control system. This enables mod users to download and play with the mods via an in-game marketplace without worrying about bugs or crashes, as they are essentially using content with the Bethesda stamp of approval. Meanwhile, the creators get a structured design & testing process before the finished mod is made live and payments can begin to be made. The big problem right off the bat was, of course, the price of the mods themselves.
Mods have long been free to use. Most creators make new content for the games they love on community modding sites as an act of passion, as a hobby. Some put up links for donations if people felt like giving back, but many were happy to just create something amazing and hone their craft, perhaps for a future career in game development. Meanwhile the players are, of course, happy to be given free content made by fans, for fans. Adding money into this equation has long been a contentious issue for the community, starting with Steams Community Workshop back in 2015.
Essentially a prototype for what we are now seeing with the Creation Club, previously free mods were listed on Steam for a price, with a portion of the profits going back to Valve and Bethesda. People kicked off, and it took a change.org petition with over 100k signatures to get Valve to back down on the entire idea. The backlash was so severe it’s a miracle that Bethesda tried again at all, but I suppose the promise of easy money is too big of a draw for them. Who knew.
Ah, but I’m sorry. The Creation Club isn’t “paid mods” despite the fact that you have to pay to get the mods. Their excuse for this is that you don’t actually pay for the MODS, you’re paying for Bethesda bucks. If you wanted to buy (sorry, obtain) everything they just released for Fallout 4, it’ll set you back 3000 Creation Club credits. That’s somewhere in the region of £30 (for the record that’s a couple of weapons, items, and skins.)
Now, my main problem with this is that for LESS money you could go and buy the Fallout: New Vegas ultimate edition. That’s a vastly superior game to Fallout 4 (but I’ll go into that another time,) the entire game, with all of its quality DLC for £15. The price/substance ratio is way off here, and that’s not to rag on the mod creators that signed up for this, either. The mods themselves look great (I was sorely tempted by the customisable backpack) but the simple fact is you can find free equivalents to most (if not all) of these mods online.
In the end, the concept of paid mods is a complex one. Creators do deserve remuneration for all their hard work, but to suddenly charge for something that has been free since modding games was first possible is a hard pill to swallow for many people, even when the mods themselves are high-quality officially sanctioned mods like these. Perhaps if the mods were made “official” paid mods, doing away with these club tokens with a substantial price drop? What do you guys think?
I’d say the sole positive note in this whole trainwreck is that now PS4 users, previously unable to use the mods enjoyed by PC and XBOX ONE users, can have at least some modded content in their Fallout 4 and Skyrim games… For a price. And let me tell you, considering what you can get for free on other platforms, that price ain’t cheap.