If you think about it, mods are a community-driven form of engagement that comes from the inside-out rather than outside-in: players within the community make content that's then used and shared by others. Bethesda made the tools, sure, but they're not directly responsible for the new content. Therefore there's no real way to monetize it. And publishers absolutely love monetizing engagement (it's the industry's latest billion-dollar fad).
This led to the Creation Club, an old throwback to the terrible PR nightmare of Skyrim's paid mods. Now Bethesda wanted a cut of the pie, and aimed to standardize mod development and sale in a newly formed storefront. Bethesda now sells mods for both Skyrim Special Edition and Fallout 4.
Creation Club's core tenants sound admirable enough, though, and I actually defended it, saying it had potential to be something great. The store would essentially fund development of mods by giving mod-makers income to make said mods, and then give creators a cut of the revenues from each sale. But how it was implemented made all the difference.
First, Creation Club had a terrible selection at launch and sold mods that were available for free. The prices were also absurd.
This store is completely optional, and Bethesda said it wouldn't compromise free mods.
But it did, and it did so many times.
Read more: Gamers protest Bethesda's Creation Club
With its Creation Club updates, Bethesda broke many script extenders needed to run some of the best Fallout 4 and Skyrim: Special Edition mods (FOSE and SKSE), thereby breaking many mods in general. Anyone who uses mods will tell you it can be a nightmare at times. Mods need to be updated to ensure compatibility not only with each other, but their respective extenders and parents, and every new update seemed to break something else.
This happened many times and ultimately forced mod-makers to adapt and try to stay ahead of the curve, and gave Bethesda a nefarious bent: the publisher who used to wish goodwill upon modders was now seen as a maddeningly confused overseer unwittingly messing everything up because it wants to make more money. It felt like Bethesda was intentionally breaking its own games to push people towards buying things they had once enjoyed for free.
And this sentiment hasn't changed. If anything it's gotten worse.
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