Bethesda made a slew of announcements at E3 2017. Doom and Fallout 4 are heading to VR. Wolfenstein and The Evil Within are getting sequels. Dishonored will see a new standalone expansion. And now Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will play host to the Creation Club, which will allow you to purchase add-on content on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Just make sure you don't refer to those add-ons as "paid mods."
That might be hard, given some of the content Bethesda plans to include in the Creation Club. The company said in a press release that the marketplace will include new gameplay modes, changes to the games' worlds, and other additions that go beyond its usual cosmetic offerings. (Insert The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion horse armor joke here.) The marketplace will also offer add-on content from Bethesda's partner companies and individual creators, too, instead of featuring only stuff the company made in-house. Doesn't that sound a whole lot like paid mods?
Well, according to Bethesda, it doesn't. Here's what the company said about that assertion:
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.
It also seemed like Bethesda wanted to distance itself from the "paid mods" label for two other reasons: quality and perception. The first has to do with the company's promise to make sure all Creation Club add-ons are "approved, curated, and taken through the full internal dev cycle; including localization, polishing, and testing." The second comes from Bethesda's assurances that modders won't have to participate in the Creation Club to continue making changes to Fallout 4 and Skyrim, and from the requirement that all Creation Club add-ons be made specifically for the platform.
This means that many of the people who have already created Fallout 4 and Skyrim mods won't be able to participate in the Creation Club. Instead, they'll have to apply to the program with a new proposal, which could limit their ability to get paid for their work. Not that we have many details about that--Bethesda said only that Creation Club add-ons will be purchased with "credits" that are themselves bought from Steam, Xbox Live, or the PlayStation Network. We don't know how much add-on content will cost or what kind of revenue split Bethesda will offer its partner developers.
All of the above makes the Creation Club seem like a half measure. Modders work hard to improve Bethesda's games--or at least keep them fresh while we wait for The Elder Scrolls to get another entry--and the company should be commended for helping them get paid for that work. But requiring everything to be new to the Creation Club, distancing official add-ons from unofficial mods, and offering few details about the revenue split hamper an otherwise compelling effort. We'll find out how many people take to the Creation Club when it debuts sometime this Summer.
If you're interested in participating in the Creation Club, you can apply for membership on Bethesda's website.