Bethesda’s Brings Back Paid Mods with the ‘Content Club’
As a concept, paid mods do not have a good reputation. Indeed, back when Valve tried to introduce them in 2015 the idea got so much hatred online that the company dropped the idea within a week. And with similar reactions coming up every time the subject is approached, it’s quite clear that gamers do not like the idea of paying for mods and will fight against it to the bitter end.
Which is why when Bethesda announced the Creation Club, people were not happy. Oh no, just look at the reactions to their reveal trailer for the feature. It’s a YouTube bloodbath:
That’s the number of dislikes you see on a Federation Force video! Or something related to another controversial game or addition like Call of Duty Infinite Warfare.
Either way, it immediately got a bad reputation.
But hey, there’s always a chance they could have salvaged it. I mean, tons of games made terrible first impressions before being improved later. Heck, even Paper Mario Color Splash turned out to be a… fairly decent game upon its actual release.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. When Bethesda actually launched the Creation Club, it turned out it was actually even worse than they’d promised it’d be!
No, we’re not kidding.
Not only is Bethesda’s ‘Creation Club’ a paid mods system of the worst possible kind, it’s a horrendously badly done one as well.
For starters, you don’t technically buy the mods straight up. Nope, you buy credits… which can only be spend on these mods.
So, before you can even use any of this thing, you need to set up a eShop type credit account first, and then buy virtual credits in order to actually get the mods.
That’s already pretty awkward in itself. Especially when you consider that these mods aren’t cheap and require a fairly significant amount of ‘credits’ to actually purchase.
And it doesn’t get any better from. Nope, once you get past that issue, you then reach the second one.
Basically, these mods (or ‘mini DLCs’ as Bethesda likes to label them) suck. Hard.
Seriously. That’s because unlike many existing mods, these ones don’t actually add all that much to the game. You’ve got some model swapped armour (which looks worse than the version you can download for free), skins for the Pipboy in Fallout (yes really) and… a crab. No, I have no idea about that one either. You’re paying for a new type of crab in an Elder Scrolls game.
This means it’s a series of expensive mods that are hard to buy and offer really poor value for anyone who wants to use them.
Yet somehow it still gets worse still.
Because the technical execution of the system is utterly horrendous.
For example, how do you think a system like this works on a technical level? Like, how do the mods end up on your PC?
Well if you’re a sane person, you’d imagine something like the app store. You press buy, fill out your credit card details, and the app downloads to your machine. Simple stuff.
Instead, Bethesda’s solution is to download ALL the mods to your PC in advance (aka in the form of ‘on disc DLC’), then provide you a key to unlock them on purchase.
One small snag here. That key… is the same sort of key used for any other mod for every Bethesda made game.
In other words, it’s something you can create with minimal technical knowledge in about five minutes. So, anyone who does this immediately gets free access to all Creation Club content, and the company can’t even claim they’re pirating it because the content’s already on their PC and the process used is merely unlocking it with a single custom file.
Absolutely brilliant design there guys. It’d be bad enough in a console game with limited file access, let alone a PC game where the user can do anything they like on their machine.
Said system is also rather unusable for developers too. That’s because you get a hard limit of 4096 records for Creation Club mods. Sound good?
Nah. Cause as the folks on the Fallout modding subreddit will tell you, a single questline mod will use about 50,000 records.
This means the possibilities for Creation Club mods are virtually non-existent, since there’s no room for anything interesting. You’re getting horse armour and armour ripoffs because that’s all the limitations let the creators make.
But none of these issues is the most damning one. Oh no, the most damning one is that the system is likely to break almost all your existing mods.
Because for some reason beyond comprehension, the system reorders all your mods so they’re loaded in alphabet order.
Which in turn breaks many of them.
That’s because mods tend to have these things called dependencies. In other words, some mods require other mods to function. To do this, the game requires you load the base mod first (to get the needed custom code working), then the mods based on it afterwards.
It’s like in web development really. To use say, jQuery for your scripts, you have to load jQuery first so your script can use functions set up in the jQuery library.
However, by reordering the mods… this completely falls apart. Suddenly your dependency is loaded after the mods that depend on it, completely breaking the latter and potentially rendering the save file utterly unusable.
It’s absolutely insane, and shows a complete lack of testing on Bethesda’s part.
So yeah, the Creation Club is broken and just doesn’t work well at all. It might get better later (since apparently Bethesda have heard about these issues), but the idea isn’t a good one and the implementation just isn’t up to par here.
If you need more info, watch Jim Sterling’s video here:
Or SidAlpha’s one here:
Since they have even more information not found in this article. As for the rest of us?
Don’t bother with the Creation Club at all. It’s not worth it, the implementation is too limited for future use and even setting it up on a heavily modded game can break things to hell.