Bethesda has clarified its new Creation Club system — the program that will sell additional content to both The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Fallout 4 — specifying that the service will not be used to sell existing mods. Creation Club, which was announced during the publisher’s E3 keynote last night, will instead allow players to buy officially sanctioned characters, weapons, and other add-ons created by Bethesda’s own studios and selected third-party developers.
Also available via Creation Club will be new clothes, areas, and even game modes. All of the above sound like the kinds of things mods have been bringing to the two games since their release, but Bethesda notes the difference, stating in its FAQ that most of the items for sale will be made internally, by the games’ own development teams, or by other studios under its umbrella.
Some other developers will also be involved, the company says, mentioning partners that have already worked on Bethesda games, as well as “external creators,” but each will have to go through an internal review process. “All the content is approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localisation, polishing, and testing,” the company says. “This also guarantees that all content works together."
That’s a marked difference from regular mods, which are usually created by amateur coders in their spare time, and distributed online for free. That approach may mean that regular mods lack the polish of the add-ons you can expect to get under the Creation Club program — save games are often incompatible with some mods, for example — but it also gives mod makers freedom that official add-ons might not get. Don’t expect to see a Bethesda-sanctioned Thomas the Tank Engine mod for Skyrim any time soon.
That said, the idea of paying for third-party mods is not unheard of. Bethesda was one of the first companies to get involved in a paid mod program Steam creator Valve launched — and then quickly shelved — back in 2015. The program faced widespread criticism from PC gamers as soon as it launched, and lasted only a week before the publisher canceled it. Speaking at the time, Valve’s Alden Kroll said that Valve "didn't understand exactly what we were doing” by introducing real money into established modmaking communities.
Speaking in 2015 about the controversy, Bethesda’s Pete Hines said that his company would re-evaluate the idea of paid mods in the future, saying that “there is a case to be made that people who spend a lot of time working on mods ought to be able to have a way of monetizing what they're doing.” But two years doesn’t seem to have reversed Bethesda’s decision. In its Creation Club FAQ, the company says a definitive “no” to the question of whether mods will be available for real cash. “Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they’d like,” the page reads. “Also, we won’t allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club, it must all be original content.”