Remove Creation Club from Fallout 4 and Skyrim
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This petition seeks to achieve one goal - the removal of the Creation Club from Skyrim and Fallout 4.
In April 2015 you, Bethesda Softworks LLC, and Bethesda Game Studios, introduced a system (in partnership with Valve) through which once free modifications, in the form of various content additions ("mod"), created by users for your game Skyrim would be placed behind a paywall by mod authors. Mod authors received somewhere around 25% of the revenue. There would be no quality assurance, and any technical issues required contacting the authors of the "mods" - with no guarantee of resolution. This scheme was entertained under the guise of benefiting mod authors, however, both a significant number of mod authors and mod community members outlined that the program in place through mod hosting websites, by which mod authors would receive donations directly from individuals using their content (at the user's discretion) was working fine. There was an extreme amount of community backlash directed at you and the authors who cast their lot in with you. After a period of a few days, you respected the wishes of your fans and customers by removing the paid user content from Steam Workshop. In an article published by GameSpot on July 15, 2015, Mr. Hines stated, " you shouldn't expect to see Skyrim's paid mod system return anytime soon." Many consumers believed that you had abandoned the idea, and decided to respect the wishes of an overwhelming majority of your fans - until August 28, 2017, when you introduced the Creation Club (the "Club").
The Club was portrayed as being "different" from paid mods through statements such as Mr. Hines stating in a September interview with YouTuber Tek Syndicate [y]ou 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." This statement is misleading consumers, and insultingly semantic. The mod authors will not be paid for sales, but also to create mods, allegedly. These mods will be sold on the Club. In essence, mod authors will be "hired" to create mods that users will pay for. This is the definition of a "paid mod." Additionally, the authors will be receiving substantially less revenue than you are, despite being the originators and creators of the content.
Moreover, the content being placed on the Club was deemed as, "mini-DLC" by several Public Relations individuals at Bethesda. Despite being deemed DLC, Season Pass holders are excluded from receiving the content on the Club as part of the Season Pass. The Season Pass store page on Steam indicates it will include, "all of the Fallout add-ons" then qualifies the statement by listing specific add-ons. It is misleading if you are still publishing add-ons and not including them as part of the Season Pass. Additionally, the language on Microsoft's store page for the game states, " get the Fallout 4 season pass and get all Fallout 4 DLC for one S.P.E.C.I.A.L. price." While the page does indicate what is included "in this bundle," the language is misleading because purchasers will not be receiving the "mini-DLC" on the Club as part of the Season Pass, unless Club content is not DLC.
So, either you are introducing paid mods, or you are releasing "mini DLC" separate from the Season Pass, which was originally sold under the guise of including all DLC published by Bethesda for the game.
Below is a non-exclusive list of issues that the Club creates, both indirectly and directly:
Note: "User" means an individual who purchased Fallout 4 and/or Skyrim through any verified game distributor and plays said game(s).
1) Hoarding of intellectual property. As an example, let's say a user enjoys an animation framework called, "FNIS." Well, if the creator makes money off of that mod - he's probably not going to be sharing it with everyone to use, and build off of, for free. Why would he help someone create a better version of a product that threatens to overshadow the one he's making money off of? This stifles the creativity and experimentation of the modding community. It also leads to the potential for lawsuits. With the potential of lawsuits looming grimly over the use of certain mods, mod authors will be far more wary and less likely to exchange their ideas - lest such ideas be stolen and monetized, or made obsolete for free.
2) Bloated, pointless mods pushed out for profit. In an environment where mod authors are paid per mod they create (even as an "external contractor"), it is unreasonable to presume mod authors will take the time to create substantial mods for the same price as they would be paid for mods with less content. If an individual is paid by that individual's production, chances are the individual will speed up his/her production to get paid more. In an ideal world, a substantial sum of the mods on the Club will be quality assured and as awesome as the free mod expansions users see on mod hosting websites. This is not an ideal world, and when an individual's only source of profit is pushing out content - quality and creativity will suffer.
3) Legal issues. If free mods continue to exist - let's say someone who created a paid mod does something interesting - Who owns the rights to that intellectual property once it is for sale on the Club? Will free modders be sued for utilizing that IP without paying? Or, will they be sued after having bought the, for the sake of argument, AI framework and then improving on it to create a better experience for users - and putting it up on mod hosting websites for free? A whole host of IP issues, copyright issues and more arise out of the Club's implementation.
4) Dividing at best, destroying at worst, the community. Much like (1), the community will be divided, or destroyed, because one group of mod authors will go the paid route, and others will maintain their integrity and go the free mods route. Both factions will harbor resentment toward one another, and we once again have a failure to freely exchange ideas and creations for the betterment of the community. This is observable upon review of the fragmentation and bitterness that took place when you attempted to implement paid mods in 2015.
5) Hard drive bloat. The first patch resulted in numerous users reporting that the Club installs all mods on their computer without their express consent to do so. These mods are locked behind a pay wall. So now users had content on their hard drive that they could not access. This action is not the action of Company that values its users, and their experience with the end product. It is unreasonable to install content on a user's computer, without the user's consent, then tell the user he/she must pay to unlock that content. Though you state this issue has been fixed in September on your website's forums (Bethesda.net), there are still users reporting it as an issue.
6) Stifling creativity and experimentation. I firmly believe when someone does something that they love, for the sake of that love, the end product significantly outshines content created solely for profit. Mod authors are free to experiment without artificially imposed timetables, they don't have to worry how profitable their mod will be, and they are creating a given mod with the hopes that others will enjoy it. Throw money into the mix, and outside concerns such as profitability and popularity outweigh experimentation and creativity - as exhibited by the extremely minor, and often times substandard, mods currently offered on the Club.
7) Higher standards. Now, this may not seem like a negative initially, but it's actually quite a problem. When we pay for mods we become consumers. We expect the end product to be of a certain quality. While we may forgive certain glitches and failings in free mods, and even help find them and fix them, now we expect the mod authors to fix the problems and give us product support. That, or we expect you, Bethesda, to do so. Look at any game on Steam (or even the latest reviews on Fallout 4's Steam page) - if consumers are unhappy, however fair or unfair, they target and lash out at the creators with criticism, complaint, and insults. These are elements that come with people paying money they earned, or received as a gift, for an end product.
8) Cost. Sure, users could wait for a sale. If Bethesda decides to put Club content on sale, and if such sale is substantial enough to cut the excessively steep prices currently displayed on the Club. But, even with a sale - How many mods do users use in their game? I used around 60-70. A small backpack mod costs $4 USD. Let's say there is a sale and ALL the Club's content is put on sale for 50% off. I would have to pay around $140, give or take, to use all of the mods I enjoy. That's a bit obscene, don't you think? I did presume all the mods I used would eventually be put on the Club, for the sake of argument. Also, what if I don't like a mod I purchased? Is there any way to refund? I haven't seen that brought up yet. There are substantial environmental expansions for free on mod hosting websites - once such expansions, that the community knows were free to enjoy, are put behind a paywall - the amount of resentment that this will create is huge (see the last two months of Steam user reviews). Who does this benefit? Not the mod authors creating the content. Not the community, made up of your fans.
8.1) Some people don't have tons of cash to throw away on mods. They set aside money to buy the game, knowing that they can add additional content for free because of mod hosting websites. These people are being alienated by you.
9) Breaking free mods. Several users have indicated that every time the Club updates, it results in coding errors, among other issues, with free mod content. This is exceedingly inconvenient for users, and indicates, whether correctly or not, that you do not care about users who do not buy Club content. It is cumbersome, and results in an undue burden on users who play with free mod content.
If you truly care about the modding community, and your fans at large, then respect our wishes, stop insulting us with misleading semantics, and remove the Club and its paid content from Fallout 4 and Skyrim.
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