*This article also available on Gonzo Today @ Bethesda Creation Club: Who Cares? – Gonzo Today.
There seems to be a big fuss over Bethesda’s Creation Club, the latest bit of content which has become available for Fallout titles and Skyrim, And I’d like to take a moment and explain why no one who plays these titles should give a shit. This article is the result of reading at least ten other articles which explain that Bethesda is evil for charging people for mods, and literally desiring to better acquaint my face with a brick wall. In a nutshell, Creation Club is an all-new, developer supported collection of mods and various add-ons for Fallout and Skyrim. Bethesda has partnered with community members for both titles who have designed the additional content, and given their creations the full backing of a developer support team. Additionally, they are charging consumers for said content based on the service that they are providing as administrators, and subsequently kicking down a portion of that revenue to the content creators themselves, not to mention creating new mods and content internally to offer through the same service.
“Well that doesn’t sound too bad,” you might be saying to yourself about now, “why wouldn’t they do that in the first place?” I couldn’t say for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that it has something to do with a company who is trying to make as much money as possible from their product not wanting to share that revenue with some nerd who made a ten hour extension mod for Morrowind. However, this is not the first time in the history of video games that something like Creation Club has come about.
In 2012, Bethesda began talks with Valve regarding the Steam Workshop, a similarly-themed portion of the Steam website which allowed for content creators to sell their mods to gamers via the Steam medium. During these talks, Bethesda was adamant that the content available on the Workshop remain free for all users:
“At every step along the way with mods, we have had many opportunities to step in and control things, and decided not to,” it wrote. “We wanted to let our players decide what is good, bad, right, and wrong. We will not pass judgment on what they do” (PC Gamer, 2015; http://www.pcgamer.com/bethesda-responds-to-outrage-over-paid-skyrim-mods/).
This suggests that Bethesda was opposed to the very insinuation that mods should ever cost players money, and further that they wanted no part in attempting to moderate a fan-created piece of content. And who could blame them? Content creators for video games in general range from advanced programming gods to junior script kiddie hacks who just thought it would be cool to make a mod for Grand Theft Auto where you can have your tits visibly flapping in the wind as you murder innocent bystanders. No self-respecting company would want any part of moderating that sort of mess. On a more product-based line of reasoning, however, this quote reflects that Bethesda, while not willing to directly moderate unlicensed add-one for their games, does have a sort of admiration for the modding community; one that says “we love the content you’re creating, just don’t ever say it came from us because we don’t want to be culpable if your shitty programming ruins little Johnny’s computer.”
Of course, there are also DRM (or digital resource management) issues to consider, especially with the ever-present issue of illegal downloading and copying of IPs. But considering that all Skyrim DLC was actually released completely DRM-free, as was the entirety of Oblivion, it’s difficult to fault Bethesda for attempting once again to further regulate additional content for their games. Especially in such a way that allows them more control over the entire process, and the moderating capacity to cut back on any liability that might fall on them as developers for faulty content.
On the other hand, there are those who for one reason or another simply aren’t satisfied with the base games that Bethesda releases (most of which have campaigns and side quests which can take gamers hundreds of hours to complete). These voices are the ones which immediately scream bloody murder any time a company even suggests that they might charge them for something that was once free, and their perspective (albeit indicative of someone with far too much time on their hands), is somewhat valid in most cases.
This particular situation, however, seems to be less dire than some in the past. Many of the mods which are available through the Creation Club are user-created, and can still be obtained via sites such as FilePlanet for any hardware platform (though it may take a little more effort on consoles). The rest are developed and maintained by Bethesda directly, for which they have every right to charge money as the content’s creators. If you really want that armor set from Fallout 3 in your Fallout 4 wardrobe, there’s nothing stopping you from purchasing it directly from Bethesda and enjoying the benefits of developer-based regulation and maintenance. There’s also nothing stopping you from going to a modding website and finding someone else’s version of the exact same goddamn thing for your character, which you’ve probably spent far too much time building anyway.
Personally, I never got into mods for games. For ninety-nine percent of the games that I play and enjoy, the base game and paid DLC are more than enough to keep me entertained. Perhaps that’s why this particular issue seems pretty cut and dry to me. But if I ever got the urge to play through some of those older titles again, and wanted a fresh take on the game, I would go and download the JSawyer mod for Fallout: New Vegas (essentially a director’s cut), or I would look into the expansive upcoming Fallout: The Frontier mod, which looks to be one of the most extensive pieces of content ever created in the Fallout series.
The point I’m trying to make here is simple: Barring any explicitly illegal activities, you can still find and use whatever mods you damn well please for these games despite the existence of the Creation Club. Just because Bethesda is attempting to make a few more bucks off of the new content they created for your favorite games doesn’t make them monsters. It makes them a business, which like all other businesses, wants to make money on the sale of the goods and services they provide. You can choose to completely ignore these mods, or you can pay money to have them. The world is your goddamn oyster. One thing is for certain; bitching about it on the internet isn’t going to change anything.
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