2015 was the year Bethesda took a leap of faith to try something new when it came to the modding community with paid mods. It took literally no time at all for the proposed system to be torn down by everyone. At that moment in their history, Bethesda had to take a step back and recalculate their next move. Two years later, we all finally got to be let in on the secret. At E3 2017, Bethesda announced their newest system called the Creation Club. At first glance, the Creation Club just seems like a slightly different version of paid mods, so everyone is readying their pitchforks and torches once more.
I'm here to say that you should take a moment and a breather before you give in to mob mentality. It's easy to move with the crowd and cry for reform! But I want to say, “Wait a minute, give it a try.” The paid mods system was a bullish way to introduce the concept, there's no argument there. It definitely needed some polish, some more consideration, and a little bit more preparation time. Now that Bethesda has had that, they seem to have very clearly listened to fan reactions and made adaptations to suit them.
One of the biggest concerns with paid mods was that people would just take old content, things that other people made, and submit them to make a few extra bucks. This won't be possible with Creation Club, since Bethesda will have eyes on the projects all the way through the development process, starting with the pitch from the creator. In the pitch process, Bethesda would be able to spot already existing content and knock it down before it even left the ground. There's also the fact that Bethesda says directly in their FAQ about the Creation Club, “We won't allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation club, it must be all original content.” It's directly stated in their rules for the system. So no one has to worry about lazy creators looking for quick cash.
Another worry with paid mods is that people would just make silly, quick, and potentially buggy additions to make quick money. This isn't possible with Creation Club, since this is a system devoted to blending third-party creators with the Bethesda development team. Essentially when an idea is pitched, the creators will become freelancers for Bethesda. In working with the team(s) there, it will ensure that all mods/extra content are made to Bethesda standards. There are even going to be periods of development set aside for localization, polishing, and testing. This way there won't be any quick cash grab mods, and most everything should work correctly with everything else.
Let's ignore the previous paid mods suggestion for a moment. Think of your favorite game that has mods available. I'll use Fallout 4 as an example, since it's one of the games in question for the Creation Club. Say a creator makes a new area for the game, completely in their own time, that resembles sections of Fallout: New Vegas. Now say they publish it for free, even though it took them countless hours to create it. I'd want the opportunity to give them a donation at least for their time. They took the newest Fallout game and combined it with my favorite in the series. That has monetary value to me, and probably a lot of other people. Plus the person who created it spent all that time not expecting anything in return for it. I'd love to thank them in my own way.
This is essentially what the Creation Club is proposing. Those that make these things for already existing games use up free time and they possibly even miss events with family and friends. They certainly miss out on relaxing outside of their day jobs. If they were able to receive payment for that time they spent, it's entirely possible they could do it more, or again at the very least. There are a great number of modders that step away from it because they simply don't have the time, or need to fill the time with something more productive.
The Creation Club can allow a growing number of super talented creators to do what they love, what they are good at, and be legitimized for it. No longer will they have to explain to their spouses that they'd rather create pixels on a screen than watch that rom-com together. Now the response could simply be, “Hey, you want to go to that super awesome attraction you've always dreamed of visiting? We'll have the money for it thanks to this mod I'm building.” Bethesda will be paying creators for their time spent rather than just meager donations that people feel like flipping someone's way like a coin in a panhandler's cup.
Besides the fact that modders really do deserve to be paid for their work, there's also the fact that a great many deserve to be a part of the video game development community, but just can't for whatever reason. At the least, if they got a job with a video game developer, they'd be working on tasks delegated to them based on someone else's idea. Unless you're a producer or own your own indie dev company, you're going to be working on someone else's dream. Bethesda's Creation Club allows these wonderful minds to think up whatever they want and then create it. No slaving away for something you don't really care about. It's all you!
This might seem like a fan waving a flag for something they just don't really understand. Yes, there are detriments to paying for mods when they were previously free. I'm the first person to say that I would prefer things be free over paid, because a writer's salary barely pays the bills. When I'm playing Fallout 4 or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and I see a mod that I'd love to have, I'll have to decide if I want to eat white rice for a few weeks so I can get it. It really depends on how much it costs, but for the most part I don't have any disposable income. So I'm going to miss out on a lot of cool stuff that I wouldn't otherwise if it was free.
There's one last important concept to talk about. The pricing. Will the add-ons, the new content made through the Creation Club, be priced fairly? Many are concerned about this but it's really a no-brainer. Just like anything else in a capitalist society, the prices will be dependent on supply and demand. Mods that are in high demand might be priced higher, while those that aren't will be priced lower. If something costs too much, people won't buy it. It's really as easy as that. There's sure to be a period of transition where Bethesda finds out what people are willing to pay for certain things, but so long as we are patient the right middle ground will be found.
Most people balked at Bethesda's Creation Club since they saw it as a cleverly disguised new version of paid mods. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity for the modding community. Why shouldn't those talented creators be paid for their work? Why shouldn't they have the opportunity to work in the video game industry? Sure it's on the fringes, but at least it's something. I know many people who would jump at the chance to work with a video game developer creating things that they dream up. With Creation Club, those types will have access to systems and people that they wouldn't otherwise. While they create and build and dream, they'll be compensated. Those of us on the end of the process can receive knowing we're going to get something great. Just like any video game at all, we should certainly reward the creators with hard earned cash.