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Fallout 4 Creation Club complaints prompt Bethesda defense

“Play with what you want, create what you want — go nuts”

Since Bethesda launched its new Creation Club feature in Fallout 4 earlier this month, players have expressed frustration with what they see as the reintroduction of paid mods. But in a recent interview with YouTuber Tek Syndicate (around the 3:50 mark above), Bethesda vice president Pete Hines wanted to set the record straight on both the Creation Club and the future of mods for the company’s games.

The Creation Club consists of new in-game content developed that is “internally created, or internally created along with external developers,” according to Bethesda. Yet it immediately reminded many people of Bethesda’s controversial premium mods that drew ire in 2015, when The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim players revolted over the idea of paid mod content.

"You have to understand that one of the reasons that this is not paid mods is that when they're working for us it's a job,” Hines said during the interview. “They're not getting paid only if the stuff sells, they're getting paid like an external contractor all along the way.”

The mods are marketed as optional but enticing pieces of armor, weapons and other goods for games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim. But early critics found that similar, fanmade mods were available elsewhere online, and for free. These places include the popular NexusMods, or even the download hub on Bethesda’s own game launcher.

Of course, Bethesda isn’t forcing anyone to buy into its new content. Those who aren’t interested, however, are still reckoning with it; Creation Club data is automatically downloaded with each Fallout 4 patch, taking up hard drive space for features that many refuse to opt into. Bethesda said on its community forum that it plans to address this in an update, but it has compounded the community’s frustrations.

In the interview, Hines maintained that Creation Club is a win-win, however.

"The risk is removed for [Creation Club contractors] because they're getting paid and treated like a real external developer, working alongside us,” Hines said. “They wanna go do mods in their free time? Well, they still can, because this is a job, and that's mods, and the two just aren't the same.”

But cynics remain concerned that, should Creation Club become a success, it would only make sense for Bethesda to continue and expand the business model. That’s obvious from Fallout 4’s recent Steam reviews, which are overwhelming negative and all focused on Creation Club.

“It worries me that this is the beginning of something much worse,” reads a top-rated Steam review, which gives the game a thumbs down. “Paid mods. Premium content. Mini DLCs. It doesn't matter which words are used to describe Creation Club, when intention behind it is clear. ... I'm worried that if Creation Club keeps this momentum, it will take away more than it will give. What if all developers and publishers continue the same practice in the future?”

But to Hines, this is the same sort of handwringing Bethesda has seen before.

“There was all the same concern, by the way, when we said we were doing mods on,” he said, referencing when the company added a mod database natively through its own platforms. “And what was the big outcry? ‘Oh, they're trying to shut down Nexus and everything else.’ Did that actually happen? Are you having trouble finding mods on Nexus? Is there a shortage of those? No. People can continue to do whatever the hell they want ... It's modding, play with what you want, create what you want, go nuts.”

Next up: Creation Club is coming to Skyrim on consoles and PC sometime this month.

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