Following paid mods fiasco, Bethesda launch Fallout 4 Creation Club

The first digital fruits of Bethesda’s new kinda-sorta-paid-mods programme, the Creation Club, arrive today in Fallout 4 [official site]. It’ll then hit Skyrim in September. Unlike Bethesda’s disastrous first flirtation with paid mods for Skyrim in 2015, which was quickly abandoned, the Creation Club is more like a DLC microtransaction store partially outsourced to modders. It’s a selection of new content Bethesda are approving and commissioning themselves rather than Steam’s failed free-for-all marketplace where anyone could upload anything, see. The initial Creation Club lineup is pretty bland, mind, just odds and ends.

Swing on by Bethesda’s blog to see everything in the Fallout 4 Creation Club’s launch lineup. Content includes clobber like Chinese Stealth Armor and Morgan Yu’s spacesuit from Prey 2017, Pip-Boy reskins, weapons, furniture for base-building, and a cheeky nod to Oblivion’s horse armour upset with a set of power armour covered in bashed bits of model horses.

Some of the bits have quests attached but largely it looks quite boring. I don’t think I’d download any of these as free mods, let alone pay a couple of quid for them.

The Creation Club runs on a new microtransaction currency, Credits, of which all players are being given 100 free (about a dollar’s worth). The Credits will be shared across both Fallout 4 and Skyrim, as well as Steam and Xbox copies of the games – but not the PlayStation versions.

The Creation Club arrives with update 1.10 today, which launched in beta yesterday. It’ll launch for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition some time in September.

2015’s paid mods fiasco was a Steam plan Bethesda joined in on, while the Creation Club is entirely Bethesda’s gig. Valve still haven’t returned to paid mods but Bethesda are back with a different take.

Rather than letting anyone whack anything up and charge for it (whether they made it or not), this is basically a DLC pipeline which can use modders as freelancers. Would-be Creators need to apply, pitch original ideas, and work like it’s serious business. Bethesda explain:

“Creators are required to submit documentation pitches which go through an approval process. All content must be new and original. Once a concept is approved, a development schedule with Alpha, Beta and Release milestones is created. Creations go through our full development pipeline, which Creators participate in. Bethesda Game Studios developers work with Creators to iterate and polish their work along with full QA cycles. The content is fully localized, as well.”

Bethesda insist that Creations aren’t paid mods, and that they won’t try to shut down modding. Creators are paid at milestones, as in regular development. Bethesda say they’ve made “most” of the Creation Club stuff themselves anyway. And mods, they say, “will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like”.

“We’ve looked at many ways to do ‘paid mods’, and the problems outweigh the benefits. We’ve encountered many of those issues before. But, there’s a constant demand from our fans to add more official high quality content to our games, and while we are able to create a lot of it, we think many in our community have the talent to work directly with us and create some amazing new things.”

This all seems fairly innocuous so far. Some high-quality (but minor, dull, and overpriced) new DLC is out for Fallout 4. I’m rarely pleased by retrofitted microtransactions but they seem highly optional and ignorable. I don’t worry about Bethesda hypothetically trying to push the Creation Club by cutting down content included with their open-world RPGs because they’re an inch deep and a mile wide anyway – there’s so little variety they could trim while still having a viable game.

I’m sure Bethesda have hopes for grander Club releases than this pointless assortment of trinkets and baubles, but I can’t see it killing free mods. If the Club becomes a roaring success, maybe a few modders will be able to make a living from their skills rather than doing it as a hobby but hey, good for them. There’s certainly no shortage of other people keen to make things for funsies and share them free.

44 Comments

  1. Mutant says:

    Problem with larger, more ambitious mods being paid for is that they have to guarantee it’ll work no matter the setup. Larger mods tend to create all manner of conflicts with one-another because they sometimes tread in the same fields, and the larger the mod is the more difficult it becomes to guarantee compatibility, I imagine quality-control will be a bit of a nightmare the more the library grows, which is why they’re including paid cosmetics since they don’t alter the game-world in any way and has zero risk of breaking anything, since it only adds content without being intrusive.

    Is my take on it at least… If modders can make a living out of this, then cool. Free modding isn’t going anywhere as long as they continue releasing modding tools, and even without modding tools the community always got around that to an extent by using free community tools.

    Eh… Let’s see if this goes anywhere.

    • sosolidshoe says:

      Yeah, see, it’s the access to modding tools thing that concerns me. If CC ends up hosting mostly garbage cosmetic stuff you can find dozens of free variations for each of, there likely won’t be a problem, but if it takes off then even though it would technically be good for everyone in the *short term*(modders get paid, Beth get more money, we get cool content we otherwise might not have) in the long term it will have created a clear financial incentive for Bethesda to restrict access to or usage of modding tools.

      “CC is fine, you still have free mods” is a sentiment that holds up only until Bethesda – a corporation obligated by law to extract the maximum possible financial reward from their activities and which was fully on-board with the absymal unrestricted paid mods model not long ago – decides they can make more money by funnelling a smaller overall playerbase into an in-house, proprietary, all-paid pseudomodding DLC store. The cynical git in me fully expects the next round of Bethesda games to give “Creators” priority access to the tools and make free modders wait weeks or even months, and to eventually start providing only “cut down” tools with less functionality than is available to “Creators” or just remove them entirely.

      • sharpmath says:

        Bethesda isn’t a publicly traded company so there’s not really any LAW that says they have to do everything to make the most profit. Doesn’t mean they don’t want to, but still.

    • upupup says:

      See my post below for a more thorough explanation, but waiting to see how it goes is the worst thing you could do as it will go nowhere that benefits modders or gamers. There is no need to give Bethesda the benefit of the doubt here because we have seen again and again how this sort of thing plays out.

      The underlying angle of this is still ‘modders deserve to get paid’, which is just a convenient excuse for them to push this and is a poisonous angle from which to approach modding with – a constant hint of ‘why are you doing this for free when you could be getting paid?’ But we shouldn’t be encouraging people to monetise every inch of their lives in this way. Hobbies need to be allowed to stay hobbies and the people with the skills needed to make a living from them already have plenty of avenues to do so, under better conditions, with more rights and with better pay.

      Modding itself needs to be allowed to be a hobby that is valuable because we enjoy doing it, not another aspect of our lives turned into a product for sale, without any hinting to the contrary and without any pressure to make money from it. Nothing good will come from tolerating the efforts of companies like Valve and Bethesda to change this.

  2. Blackcompany says:

    Paid mods for a 3 year old game built on antiquated tech that was severely outdated when it was new…

    Surely this is just an introductory thing. I mean, who is the target audience for this? I have some stuff I can get them a good deal on that is totally relevant and not at all just stuff I want to dump off on extremely gullible fools who dont like money…

    On a serious note: So long as they dont strangle free mods in the name of forcing their paid store, I am as okay with this, as this is irrelevant for their players. Mods are the ONE thing keeping Bethesda both in the spotlight. And that, is due to the mods being free.

    Start exclusively charging for mods, and you will see a precipitous drop in the number of players willing to put up with the ancient tech, dated animations, stiff, stilted voice acting, poor combat systems and forgettable writing of a vanilla Bethesda game.

    Keep an eye on where they go with this. It could simply remain utterly irrelevant, as modders and players alike pledge to “Forever Free” (see the Nexus for more on this). Or…it could go very, very badly for Bethesda if they force paid mods. And after the reviews Skyrim received when they revisited it a year later with DLC, after the rose colored newness had worn off, and the reviews out of the gate for Fallout 4…coupled with Dishonored 2 launch issues and lackluster Prey sales…I dont know that Bethesda can afford for things to get a whole lot worse.

    • Metalfish says:

      Whilst I don’t doubt there’s something to what you’re saying, I think you might be overestimating the proportion of users interested in/informed about free mods. Skyrim and to a lesser extent Fallout 4 were HUGE, especially in the traditionally less RPG-focused console markets.

      I think pissing off the modding communities and mod users is a terrible idea, but it’s more plucking a few of the golden goose’s wings rather than cooking it wholesale. Bethesda will survive quite happily.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      I think ‘forgettable’ is a bit generous. Who could ever forget such zingers as “I saw a mudcrab the other day” and “Heard any news from the other provinces?”

    • Balance of Power says:

      Blackcompany says:

      Paid mods for a 3 year old game built on antiquated tech that was severely outdated when it was new…

      Oh gimme a break Blackcompany. You wouldn’t say that about Unreal or Cryengine, yet here you are parroting this old chestnut.

      Unreal/Cryengine/Unity all have legacy components built-in, it’s no different with Creation. Yet you wouldn’t call the former outdated. Sure they run great but they also work significantly different than an engine like Creation / Gamebryo. Unreal’s engine’s environments cannot be sprawling landmasses like those in Bethesda games. Cryengine might be able to but it cannot be edited on the fly, the way you can quickly edit, drop in an NPC/Object/Quest into the game. Unity is still too new and isn’t as robust as Creation.

      In fact Fallout 4 received a number of major engine improvements compared to its predecessor.

      Just because it doesn’t play like Battlefield or an engine that’s tuned for a high performance twitch shooter doesn’t mean its outdated. Nor is a new engine a panacea, as new tech means new bugs to sort through and fix. (Better the devil you know than… as the old saying goes.)

      While I suspect Bethesda may indeed be working on a new engine or a complete overhaul of Creation, they have done very well keeping Gamebryo going and wouldn’t be surprised if they brought it back for a future title.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        “Unreal’s engine’s environments cannot be sprawling landmasses like those in Bethesda games.”

        Not gonna touch the rest of the post, but this is just incorrect. The build limit to Unreal 4 is massive, and you can very much create sprawling landmasses with it. What Bethesda does better is its database allowing them to store the positions of the absurd number of interactible objects in the game, and iteration speed.

  3. wombat191 says:

    I’m seeing this as similar to what Paradox do with a few of their games, releasing community creations as official DLC.

    Only thing that caught my eye so far is the modern furniture pack, I love the settlement building :)

    One thing that isn’t wrong is the price.. $3 or so for a gun and a quest?

    What is not mentioned in the article is that they are giving people 100 points, enough to pick up a couple of pipboy reskins

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      That is mentioned in the article.

      • wombat191 says:

        Oh it is too. my apologies :)

        *Offers macaroni statue of apology*

    • Admiral Snackbar says:

      Which Paradox games sell community creations as DLC?

      • wombat191 says:

        Hearts of Iron III Semper Fi: Dies Irae Götterdämmerung
        Hearts of Iron III: Dies Irae Stars & Stripes
        Cities: Skylines – Content Creator Pack: Art Deco
        Cities: Skylines – Content Creator Pack: High-Tech Buildings

        Are the four off the top of my head

  4. gbrading says:

    I still maintain this almost exclusively benefits Bethesda, rather than modders themselves. Bethesda would like to claim that this allows modders to get their due for their hard work, but if that were true, there are several other ways Bethesda could have gone about doing this, rather than charging end users for these additional bits of content.

    Things like this make me exceedingly nervous for The Elder Scrolls VI or whatever it is Bethesda are doing next.

  5. Stromko says:

    I would have hoped for some interesting quest mods or at least some new ideas, something that would add to the game, but I’m not impressed by anything they’re showcasing so far.

    The homemade shotgun looks like the best of the bunch to me, but until one of the major balancing mods adds compatibility for it I’m sure it would be quite useless against the bullet-spongey and level-adjusted enemies that infest the Capitol and Commonwealth wastelands. I would probably have to discard it in favor of a combat rifle or gauss rifle fairly quickly.

    I guess the irony is that Bethesda tends to produce content marred with flaws that are greatly improved by mods, and the more minor or obscure the content they’re selling the less likely it is to be fixed by the community and made palatable.

  6. Pich says:

    the fact that they tout the mods going through Bethesda QA as a pro really tells they don’t know their own reputation.

    • ZippyLemon says:

      Trust me, they know. They’re highlighting it for PR reasons. Making BGS games bug free is an impossible task, but this gives Bethesda QA a win.

  7. Minglefingler says:

    I’m curous as to how the virtual currency works. Can you buy it in the exact amount you need or does it come in preset packs that are designed to make you pay more than the mod you want to buy costs? I have a funny feeling I already know the answer but maybe Bethesda will pleasantly surprise me.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      Pretty sure they wouldn’t bother with a virtual currency unless you had to buy it in pre-set blocks.

    • wombat191 says:

      the lowest level pack you can buy on steam is 750 credits for $7.99 USD

  8. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Wait, is that armor made out of Giddyup Buttercups?

    I’m tempted, stupid as it is.

    • wombat191 says:

      Become the feared raider boss of the Commonwealth wearing Giddyup buttercup? yes please haha

  9. left1000 says:

    this mod was released as paid dlc. despite bethseda’s promise that old mods wouldn’t be allowed on creation club?

    link to nexusmods.com

    • wombat191 says:

      That’s the thing. They are not the same mod, but they ARE mods/DLC of the same thing and the free version has more options.

      Actually in a review I saw comparing free and paid versions the only paid version that was better or had more options was the backpack DLC

  10. wombat191 says:

    I got curious and checked out the Fallout 4 directory, the Creation Club DLC’s are all automatically downloaded, youare actually just paying to unlock what is already in the data folder.

    • irongamer says:

      I was wondering why the update was 2.1 GB. Wtf Bethesda, I’ll load the useless crap I want on my computer myself.

    • Premium User Badge

      Alpha1Dash1 says:

      I feel that this whole thing is a cynical money grab by Bethesda. I really hope if fails hard.

      But brighter news – the excellent ppl at F4SE have already released a new version of the script extender [v0.5.0 for runtime 1.10.20], so my broken fallout4 is not so broken any more [well, my save loads at least, not sure if everything else is working!].

      The 2 things that I’m concerned about for the future though are:
      1) to echo wombat191: the few mods in the initial launch were automatically downloaded & took up >600Mb of ssd space – this mechanism won’t be useable (by me at least) if the cc takes off and has 100s of mods on it.
      2) will each update of the cc content break fallout again?

  11. MultiVaC says:

    So I guess the whole Horse Armor thing has completely lost any meaning to the game community then? I mean, they are literally selling a product that is just a reference to a meme that is a criticism of the product itself.

  12. Babypaladin says:

    I want drama. I want Bethesda to tweak their engine and make their next game moderately unmoddable to give their “creators” an advantage over normal modders to boost the sales for creation club. Maybe they’ll even consider selling bug fixes and patches with TES6! I want all this to happen so badly.

    But I know I’m probably not going to get what I want. Bethesda is not that stupid, but then again they ARE pulling a horse armor joke while they’re basically introducing house armor 2.0… So, there’s still hope!

    • wombat191 says:

      Honestly I expected Bethesda for a few years now to completely drop modding as they concentrate on consoles so it was a huge surprise to me that they introduced it to them.

      As for selling patches? you should check out Battlefront.com who make the combat mission games.. Charging $10 a pop for engine patches for a single game

  13. upupup says:

    Time to repost that big post I did:

    “This is just another attempt to ease in the idea of paid mods which, in any shape or form, is still a terrible idea that isn’t in anyone’s interest bar the big companies pushing it. All the guarantees they give mean absolutely nothing when the other party consists of thousands of tiny players who won’t be able to hold them to their word. There’s lots of reasons for this:

    – The foundation of modding is freely sharing one’s work and ideas. Mod interdependence is a good thing that should not be discouraged by giving people a stake in screwing each other over on who owns what and harassing others over wanting compensation. There’s enough modding drama already without adding money as a factor. Just look at the list of mods involved in any big mod and imagine the nightmare of giving every person in every team for every mod their ‘due’, or even figuring out who legally owns what to begin with.

    – For those that want make money there have always been options anyway, from it being a good way to find employment in the industry or serve as a staging ground for their own projects. This nothing new. There is also no need to use the hypothetical of a handful of modders who might have genuinely profited from this change when their skills would translate to well-paying positions anyway, especially when the community as a whole would suffer for it.

    – One of the reasons modding projects haven’t been systemically stamped out already through C&D’s is that it hasn’t been profitable to do so. Once you give companies incentive to either pressure people into turning their free mod into a paid mod (from which the company will get a cut, of course) or halt their project to make room for someone who will with the threat of legal action, you’ll this change very quickly. It won’t matter if these projects are legally in the clear, because all these small projects won’t have the financial clout or legal knowledge to defend themselves.

    – Bethesda doesn’t need to profit from all the work of others tangentially related to theirs but not made by them now and forever until the end of all, which is the real purpose of this. This is a perversion of copyright, not its intent.

    – Adding money as a ‘motivator’ is no guarantee for quality or good support, so it is not as if we’ll suddenly see an increase in modding quality. Modders already put unreasonable amounts of effort into their projects because it is their passion and adding money won’t somehow allow them to put in 110%. Besides, what tends to get more support: paid for games or the projects maintained by fans?

    – Most importantly however, and something which tends to get severely underappreciated, is that we should not be encouraging people to see every aspect of their lives as something to be monetised. People should have room to have hobbies that are valuable for their own sake and without any pressure to at some point turn it into a source of income. Just let people enjoy what they do without whispering to them not being paid for it means it’s not being appreciated.”

    All of it still applies. This plan fits in the usual pattern of introducing a major change that people will get upset about in an extreme form to test people’s reaction. If it’s accepted straight away, great, if they don’t, keep reintroducing it in a scaled down manner until they do. This gives the impression of a compromise even though they’re the ones pushing for it and are the only ones benefiting from it.

    And no, the guarantees given by Bethesda are worthless and always will be, because they’re in a position to change the rules once they’ve established a market and modders are not. They are hollow promises that are already easy to circumvent in ways such as ‘motivating’ a popular in-progress projects to launch on the Creation Club with a C&D. That’s the logical next step from the current way a C&D is used with an added financial incentive to go after as many projects as possible, both to shut down competition and popularize their platform.

    I don’t think a lot of people get how the people making these decisions think: any opportunity to monetise something to the absolute limit that isn’t followed through on is considered to be them not being paid the money that they’re owed. The only reason they’ve left modders alone is because there was no profit in bothering them, which this changes. Expect this to get as bad and invasive as they can make it if allowed to continue. Again, this benefits no-one but Bethesda and sets a terrible precedent if people were to try and downplay it.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Amen! Bookmarked.

      P.S.: Since we’re talking about money, and even though this might go a bit against your last point, this is the kind of comment I’d Flattr if I could!

      Reposting from elsewhere here :
      There’s also the interesting case of Patreon succeeding where Flattr failed : link to meshedsociety.com
      EDIT : Maybe, now that AdBlock Plus has bought Flattr, and have created a version where you don’t even need to click a button to “flattr” a web page, Flattr will rise again?
      link to techcrunch.com
      P.S.: Though it’s a shame that it looks like it wouldn’t work out with sub-components of a page like comments, sometimes some of the comments are so useful you want to reward them with more than just a like/thumbsup…

      • upupup says:

        Thanks! I strongly feel that the emphasis people try to put on monetary value when it comes to things like this should be challenged at every turn. People give way too much credit to companies and ignore how valuable modding has been to IT in general. It should treasured and stimulated, not thrown away for chump change. If what I posted was even a tiny bit helpful then I’m very satisfied. I have no idea what Flattr is though, but it sounds positive!

    • BlueTemplar says:

      I took the liberty of re-posting your comment here :
      link to reddit.com
      (I’ll delete it if it bothers you.)

      • upupup says:

        You cited me, so it doesn’t bother me. :) I’m just glad to see it’s helpful.

  14. Longestsprout says:

    this is just underwhelming and disappointing. I was actually there, defending these people when they said it wasn’t going to be paid mods. That they’ve learned their lesson and are going to (or at least try to) provide quality content worth our money. God, I hate it when I’m wrong, you’d think I’d wise up one of these days.

    It’s almost like dealing with an infant, who doesn’t understand, when we’re telling it not to make a mess on the carpet. Except, bethesda isn’t an infant, and yes, they know exactly what they’re doing.

  15. BlueTemplar says:

    Jim Sterling really outdid himself on this one :

  16. soopytwist says:

    They forced an update on me I didn’t want and now the mods I had are broken. Gee thanks Bethesda, you bunch of dicks.

  17. TheGameSquid says:

    – Supporting mod creators is one thing, but I have no interest in letting Bethesda get a piece of that profit.
    – Mod creators have always had the opportunity to ask for donations or set up a patreon etc.
    – Bethesda is talking about providing stuff like Q&A for this, but we currently have a batch of simple texture packs, aka crap that doesn’t require a whole lot of Q&A to begin with. There’s currently no added value to Bethesda’s involvement.
    – Some of these mods are available on the Nexus, sometimes in slightly better versions.
    – Adding a virtual currency system to this is outright cynical.
    – The price for any of these items is ludicrous.
    – Currently, the DLC content is downloaded through Steam if you have F4 installed (2,1 Gb), even if you don’t buy any of the mods, which is absolutely ridiculous.
    – The above technically makes this on-disk DLC :)
    – The content updates seem to update the F4 executable, thereby breaking F4SE, one of the most important things in the modding community.
    – This is essentially retrofitting microtransactions into a 2 year old game, and a 6 year old game when it’s released for Skyrim.
    – Most importantly, it sets a dangerous precedent for future games. Just have a look at what Shadows Of War is getting away with.

  18. samurai45 says:

    я вижу только один плюс -это интеграцию mods в аккаунт ,а в остальном ЭТО ПОЛНАЯ ЛАЖА!

  19. LordMunchkin says:

    This is completely ridiculous. Bethseda should pay modders not us. Mods are why people buy their games and continue playing them. Mods are why Skyrim has retained a high price even when other games of the same age are worth less than 5 dollars now. In addition, there’s almost no way for a modder to guarantee the mod you buy will work. They are by definition unprofessional workers; they’re not doing it full time. They’re doing it for fun, for practice, to be part of a community. NOTE ‘for fun’; modders abandon their mods all the time. I see no way in which Bethseda can guarantee people won’t lose access to mods they paid for.

    All this reeks of some suit saying “hey mods are popular, let’s try to make some money off of them” without realizing that A) their games are already popular because their modability and B) monetizing mods is almost impossible (without professionalizing modders and thus having to pay them professional wages). I highly suspect this will negatively impact current and any future games using this system.