PAID MODS

HORSE ARMOR

Monetising mods is hardly a new idea. Bethesda first tried it out with the infamous Horse Armor for The Elder Scrolls IV – Oblivion, which became a popular meme for overpriced microtransactions.

Several years later, they attempted to introduce paid mods for Skyrim through the Steam Workshop which backfired horribly for all parties involved and resulted in Valve refunding everyone. Some high profile modders who participated were Arthmoor, Chesko, and isoku, and it was them and other mod authors who unjustly received much of the force of the immense backlash.

And Bethesda had to rethink how mods could possibly be monetised.

THE CREATION CLUB

In 2017, Bethesda finally found a way to implement paid modding that resulted in a manageable amount of criticism through the Creation Club. While they keep insisting that the “creations” up for purchasing in the Creation Club for Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition are not in fact mods, they are employing a number of popular mod authors, among them fadingsignal, Trainwiz, Elianora, and Kris Takahashi.

Regardless of whether it’s mods or creations or bunny rabbits dancing in circles, the Creation Club content keeps the paid modding controversy alive and well with many in the community fearing it will bring upon “the end of free mods”. This is of course a massive exaggeration; however, it is still worrying to see more microtransactions in single player games, and the Creation Club is only one example of many.

CREATION CLUB UPDATES & THE SCRIPT EXTENDER

There is also the issue of the constant bloody updates...

What does that mean? Every time the Creation Club is expanded and new “creations” are added or updated, the game’s EXE is updated. Yes, you read correctly; somehow Bethesda needs to update the SkyrimSE.exe¬†each and every time. This means SKSE64 needs to be updated each and every time. This means all SKSE64 plugins need to be updated each and every time.

Decompiling SKSE64 plugins to update the offsets, then recompiling them is something only a fraction of the modding community knows how to do. With every update the Creation Club / Skyrim receives, there is a chance that mods “die” because the mod author is no longer active. Thankfully, many of the current SKSE64 plugins are kept up to date by their creators or have open permissions for others to update them.

It still means that you need to update your game as well as SKSE64 and plenty of mods every couple of months even if you want nothing at all to do with the Creation Club – a major inconvenience for users and authors alike.

Note that this can be circumvented and you can stick to the previous version of Skyrim SE, SKSE, and relevant mods by running the game exclusively through SKSE. You will, however, be unable to update SKSE-dependent mods since new versions are usually only released for the latest version of Skyrim.

SUPPORTING MOD AUTHORS

Mod authors spend huge chunks of their personal time creating amazing pieces of art or tiny useful tweaks and putting them up for free to be used by anyone. This has spawned a fantastic community, many helpful guides and websites, tons of intricate mod management and editing tools, and one of the deepest rabbit holes on the internet.

Of course they deserve rewards for their work.

For some, that is simply a few screenshots, praise, or enthusiastic comments. Others appreciate a few bucks of donations or Patreon supporters. Typically, people with a lot of free time on their hands don’t have a whole lot of money – that goes for students, or the unemployed, or anyone with chronic illnesses or disabilities, and for many, the modding community provides a place to sink their time and energy into and in return, receive gratitude and donations for their trouble.

I say that without any judgement. I myself am alternating between being a student and sinking into depression doing absolutely nothing. I do accept donations and I’m shocked and overjoyed every time someone sends me money as a way to thank me for my work. It shows that others see real value in what I create. This is no different for any mod author out there.

So donate if you can! To your favourite mod authors, to the one who created that patch that you so desperately needed, to the amazing team coming up with the next total conversion. You can be sure that your support and your encouragement do wonders for morale and motivation.

DONATION POINTS

Donation points are a relatively new system introduced on the Nexus for all supported games and their mods. What it does is collect donations made to the Nexus in a pool that is then divided among mod authors who opted their mods in, based on the amount of unique downloads.

This way even authors of obscure patches and small tweaks can receive an appropriate reward for their work if they so choose. Overall, the system has its flaws but does well even in a community where money and donations are particularly sensitive topics.

WHAT ABOUT "CREATIONS"?

Some Creation Club content is quite good. I have played with some FO4 “creations” myself, and I own the Skyrim SE Survival Mode “creation” that was free on launch – which, in combination with a few mods to tweak it (the irony…), I can actually recommend. And apparently, the Forgotten Seasons SSE “creation” – a dungeon by Trainwiz – is worth its price.

But if this was modding, I would not be able to afford it.

I’m also firmly against supporting microtransactions in single-player games. It’s a disgusting practice employed by publishers to make more money, and while it may have a place in some multiplayer games (such as Guild Wars 2) to keep servers going, I will always boycott any implementation in single-player games and urge everyone to do the same.

Pirating “creations” is easy enough. If you really need to have that one Creation Club mod, find it on Reddit and donate money directly to the mod author. They are usually mentioned in the creation’s description; if no name is noted, it was probably made by Bethesda themselves.

THE GENERAL CONSENSUS

Overall, the modding community supports donations and Patreon subscriptions. Mods behind paywalls – where you have to donate a certain amount before you gain access – are highly controversial and generally shunned. Any attempts from Bethesda to implement paid mods have been met with general disdain, Forever Free campaigns, and occasionally exaggerated outrage.