Bethesda’s press conference at this year’s E3 was something quite unique, featuring plenty of twee animations and tinkering circus-like background music. But one announcement stood out a bit more than others: the Creation Club. Available for the hyper-popular Bethesda titles Fallout 4 and Skyrim, the Creation Club has stirred up a much confusion as it has excitement. Thankfully, Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines sat down for a recent interview to explain how the Creation Club is different than paid mods and what exactly creators can do within the new program.
Hines first stated that Bethesda’s aim is to have the Creation Club exist without affecting the ways in which the mod scene works currently. “Creation Club was a new thing that the team came up with to say, ‘We want to continue to make and do stuff for Skyrim and Fallout 4, and we want to create an ecosystem that works across both games, but we want to leave mods the way that they are,’” he said.
Hines also detailed what could be seen as a ranking system amongst modders and developers. Those working in Creation Club have the opportunity to pitch content to create. Once the pitch has been accepted, a modder becomes a game developer. And once the developer gets greenlit, Bethesda starts paying them “like any other developer that works on [the studio’s] stuff.”
Off that, Hines made it explicitly clear that Bethesda in no way wants to change how that works. Rather, the team wishes to create things themselves and also “bring in external developers” or established mod-makers – but not as modders, as game developers with Bethesda. Furthermore, any content that Bethesda greenlights from these individuals has to meet a certain criteria, an example of which is that the content can’t be pre-made. “It can’t be something you’ve already created that now you say, ‘I want to offer this through Creation Club.’ That’s not what Creation Club is about,” Hines explained.
But how can people distinguish this content from mods, and how will Creation Club delegate official content? Hines stated that everything made within the program is considered official content for each game, referring to it as “mini DLCs in some way.” Creation Club content is internally created either individually or along with external developers and “work the same across all three platforms.” Additionally, the content is guaranteed to work with players’ save games and all DLC, don’t shut off Trophies or Achievements in Skyrim or Fallout 4, and will be localized as necessary.
In order to further clarify for the internal development and publishing of Creation Club content, Hines stated that the studio will outsource work for lower priority creations while internal studios devote their attention to larger projects. While it’s likely safe to assume that Bethesda tapping third-party developers won’t be done in the same way BioWare allegedly outsourced facial animations for Mass Effect: Andromeda, Hines still explained that everything is official content. “We don’t have any issues with platforms like what kind of things are you or are you not allowed to include in what you do because it’s coming from us. It’s QA’d by us. It’s managed by us as official content and then put up and made available,” he said.
Hines then shifted focus to Creation Club pricing, another point of uncertainty amongst fans. He stated that the content isn’t “meant to be high price point stuff,” but rather small things players can purchase as add-ons. Price points will vary, and Bethesda will “figure that out as [they] go along.” Ultimately, Hines explained that pricing is “all dependent on what the folks who are working on this want to create.” These remarks echo is past statement that Bethesda’s Creation Club isn’t a new form of paid mods.
Bethesda’s Creation Club unveiling comes at an interesting time in gaming. In the last few years, mod popularity has grown, and publishers the world over have begun taking note of the people who create such content. Earlier this year, developer Studio Wildcard made the bold announcement that it would pay modders $4,000 a month to work on a mod for its prehistoric action-adventure title ARK: Survival Evolved.
But for every public expression of interest has come a wave of backlash. Past reports stated that Skyrim modders received death threats when Steam allowed them to sell their modded content for money. More recently, Nintendo laid down the ban hammer, taking down 3DS modders.
The hope here is that Bethesda’s Creation Club will satisfy all parties involved – modders, developers, and the players at home – with nary a bump in the road. Although that’s wishful thinking at best, it appears Bethesda has a clear vision for where the Creation Club is headed and what it can do. And if successful, the Creation Club may be the start of something great enough to spark copycats behind it.
Creation Club is expected to launch sometime this summer for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.