Is the overwhelmingly negative reaction warranted?
Even 3 days after Bethesda’s E3 conference, the steady stream of negativity directed towards Bethesda’s new user-created content marketplace has not halted. Fans of Bethesda titles are passionate, but many have become disillusioned and even bitter in the past couple of years.
Fallout 4, though a solid title, was not the successor to Fallout 3 and New Vegas that many hoped it would be. The seasons pass for Fallout 4 received its own share of controversies: notably when Bethesda Game Studios decided to increase the price months after Fallout 4’s release. Most of all, fans are tired of seeing so much
Most of all, fans are tired of seeing so much Skyrim. The Skyrim: Special Edition was a very disappointing remaster; with the announcement of two new Skyrim editions, and with still very little word on Elder Scrolls VI, some fans are feeling dejected.
The Creation Club is meant to be an in-game marketplace for user created content. The Creation Club will be used in Fallout 4 and Skyrim, and presumably other Bethesda titles in the future. The E3 video, which can be viewed here, has a staggering 94% dislike ratio, currently. A quick browse of the Bethesda Softworks subreddit reveals equally displeased reactions from fans on Reddit. The controversy is centered around the idea that players will buy this content with credits. Credits seem to be purchased with real currency, and this is a very sore spot for gamers.
Much of this passionate reaction is understandable. I would rather not see Bethesda attempt to pull any more shenanigans with intentionally vague seasons pass details. I would prefer an Elder Scrolls VI to two more editions of Skyrim. I can relate to fans here. And initially, my reaction to Bethesda’s new Creation Club was equally incendiary to that of the fans, so I can truly relate to how Bethesda fans are feeling right now about the Creation Club. Upon doing some research on the Creation Club’s purpose, though, my initial feelings simmered somewhat.
Upon doing some research on the Creation Club’s purpose, though, my initial feelings simmered somewhat. I believe that much of the fault for the Creation Club’s negative response lies not with the idea itself, but rather with how Bethesda has presented it. Ultimately, I am no longer angry, but curious, suspicious, and a little pensive at what Bethesda is really trying to accomplish with the Creation Club.
Viewers of the Bethesda E3 conference were given only a brief, minute-long video for information on the Creation Club. The video was so vague in the information it provided that understanding anything about the Creation Club required further reading: a fine print.
To make matters worse, Bethesda remains virtually silent on the issue. There are two angles here: either Bethesda has a true, positive vision for what can be accomplished with the Creation Club; in which case, Bethesda should officially come forward and explain why they made the Creation Club, and soon. The second possibility is that Bethesda was intentionally vague in the hopes nobody would really think about what was being implied. This suggests a darker motivation, and I sincerely hope this is not the case.
Bethesda has an FAQ set up for the Creation Club, which can be viewed here. This is a very useful source of information and reveals to a larger extend Bethesda’s goals for the new marketplace. I suspect, for now, that what Bethesda is aiming to create is a system by which approved modders and creators produce the kind of small DLC’s that we saw in Fallout 4 and Oblivion.
I am talking about DLC’s that do not really need to be included in the price of a season’s pass, like workshops and dungeons. The DLC that comes to mind for me is Mehrune’s Razor, an elaborate dungeon quest in Oblivion that rewarded you with an extremely powerful weapon.
Mehrune’s Razor is completely optional to the Oblivion experience and comes off as nothing more than a high-quality mod: the type you would support by donating to a well-deserved modder.
I would hope that everybody can agree that supporting hard working modders is a positive. This is one undisputedly solid by-product of the Creation Club. Bethesda Game Studious intends to essentially contract modders, and pay them through their development cycles for the content they create. Moreover, content creators will be able to make use of the all the resources at Bethesda’s disposal. Many modders are opposed to charging for mods, but there is no problem with modders who need the money being paid for their work. Everybody needs to put food on the table, and this is why many modders accept donations for their work.
Something else to consider is that Bethesda seemingly has no intention of charging for mods that already exist, and it has no intention of preventing players from creating mods in the future. The main worry right now is that this could change in the future, but I do not believe that will happen. Mods are the lifeblood of the Bethesda gaming experience, and I refuse to believe a long-standing company like Bethesda could ever be dense enough to cut off such a valuable, vocal part of their support base.
I’ve heard the concern about the precedent the Creation Club sets, but I am not entirely sure this is setting much of a precedent anyway. XCOM 2, developed by Firaxis Games, hired the modders of The Long War, XCOM’s most popular mod, to produce mods for XCOM 2. You can think of the Creation Club as a natural evolution of this philosophy, where a company recognizes talent and employs it to their benefit.
If the content that Long War Studios (as they now call themselves) produced was more substantial in size, they arguably could have sold it. Their mods were not much different from XCOM 2’s smaller DLC packs. If you would pay for those DLC packs, why would you not pay for the modded content? I think too much value is being placed on nomenclature in this scenario.
The Creation Club serves as a way to separate the DLC-quality mods from the rest, and support the talented modders that produce this work. I do not know if this is Bethesda’s goal, but I know I accept the outcome produced by this new content marketplace. I hope the best modders on the scene produce some excellent content for the Bethesda’s games. And if the content is worthy, I will support it. I hope you, Bethesda’s greatest fans, will as well. But if you don’t, you can always go back to the thousands of free mods that are not being taken away.
Bethesda failed to pitch the Creation Club to its fans. In fact, they barely even tried. I consider this a massive failure on their part, and I hope to see it remedied soon. We should hold AAA developers and publishers to a high standard, and expect honesty at all times. Bethesda is in danger of betraying years of trust from its fans, and it has much to lose as a result.
I see the Creation Club as a smaller part of a larger issue: accountability from game studios. I am hoping for the best with Bethesda’s new Creation Club. If anyone from Bethesda is reading, please, do not let us down. Come forward, and let us know what you’re thinking. If you do not, you will irreparably damage your relationship with your fans.