The State of Skyrim Mods

Mods are at the heart of the community within Skyrim, but with many mods growing to epic proportions what does that mean for the game?

Ever since The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s release in 2011, there has been a massive modding community continually adding content to the game over time. We have probably all delighted in turning the dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine or My Little Ponies, but does the modding community go too far sometimes? Have the insane number of mods completely eclipsed the original game and with Bethesda taking such an active role in their production, what does that mean for the company?

No. I believe that the mods are what make Skyrim what it is today, for the players and the company. Over the years, mods have added so much to the game, and as a result, many people still play it to this day. A lot of the mods for Skyrim add unique content that allow the world of Skyrim to develop and remain interesting.

Quality Enhancements or My Little Pony?

The reason the modding community is so fantastic for Skyrim is because of the quality of the mods that it has produced. These modders have poured their lives and souls into these mods to create a more immersive world that is easier to traverse. The modding community has added everything from more spells, better maps, and a greater range of armor and weapons to make the experience more interesting. Skyrim's mods are especially useful if you have played the game before, since going back and altering your experience greatly adds to the replayability of the game.

With mods, you don’t have to be constrained to the original formula of the game; you truly can have it your way with the help of mods. RPGs are meant to give you the freedom to create your own story and path, so mods are a perfect fit for the genre and help to enhance this goal. Sure, you have the option to be silly with it and turn all the spiders into Spiderman, but if that’s how you want to play the game, go for it! The silliness on the one hand, compared to the enhancements and extra content that modding also brings to Skyrim is what makes it amazing.

Have Mods Pushed Skyrim Into a Dark, Forgotten Corner?

Of course, there are a ton of mods available to download for Skyrim, so it could easily be argued that this eclipses the experience the developers originally intended. On the contrary, though, I believe it enhances every aspect within Skyrim, and that is because the people who make these mods love the game. They take what they would have liked from the game and spend their time crafting these things to add into it. Mods like more diverse dragons, better AI, and alternative openings add to the overall experience of the game. Additionally, that these mods take aspects from the original game and tweak it to fit the desires of the players is what allowed such a devoted following to develop.

The mods don’t completely overhaul the game, and a lot of the time only add small aspects or changes to the original content. The alternative opening mod is one of my favorites, as you feel as though you have customized absolutely everything about your character's origin. When you put so much time into a character over the course of the game, it's fantastic to be able to craft certain important aspects of their life from the beginning.

Projects like Beyond Skyrim are incredible, and if you haven’t checked out their project then it is well worth a look. The aim of Beyond Skyrim is to create all the areas within Tamriel, and this adds such openness and diversity to the game that wasn’t there before. It will take time to create everything, of course, but just imagine going back into Skyrim and being able to explore areas that have only ever been mentioned. Bruma is the only place to be added so far to the world of Tamriel, but it is a step in the right direction. Simply from Nexus Mods alone, it has had over 9,000 endorsements, nearly 2 million views, and nearly 500,000 downloads. The desire for quality content is at it's highest, so it's only natural that the best content will continue to be made. 

These mods don’t eclipse the game; they bring it back into the light--and into the public eye. It makes people want to play Skyrim again and create an entirely new story, adding details and story elements to the game that highlight the already amazing world and story that had been created by Bethesda.

How Does Bethesda Profit?

Speaking of Bethesda, you do have to wonder whether the ability to access mods freely is good or bad for the company. This is a much more nuanced topic, with slight variations between the PC versions and the current generation of consoles.

First, we'll tackle the free mods you can download for PC. Although Bethesda doesn’t gain anything from this, it did push them into their Creation Club, which is available for PS4 XBOX One and PC.

The free mods are undeniably an issue for Bethesda if we are looking at it purely from a money-making view. They gain nothing directly from people creating and downloading mods in a monetary sense. So you could perhaps state that the access to free mods is a bad thing, at least when it comes to the company. They have to make money to create more games, but we know Skyrim is a resounding success anyway. Even in 2015, Bethesda had sold 22.7 million units of Skyrim, taking into account the re-master and the figures. 

Therefore, we know it isn't about the money. Of course, companies like to continue to make more, but Skyrim has done well. Thus, it must be assumed that Bethesda does not need the money that could be made off of mods, which shows that the free mods don't harm the company and their ability to make and support the games they have in their repertoire. In fact, having a more open approach when it comes to mods perhaps does more good than bad. Many people play Skyrim strictly for the mods on PC, so it continues to bring in people and ensure they, and others, continue to play the game again and again. 

The Creation Club allows modders and content creators to get paid for their mods and for them to go through an entire development process. Ensuring that the mods are up to standard and that the content being created is of a high priority. It also allowed mods to become available for consoles, instead of just being limited to PC, allowing the community and freedom of modding to move from the computer into other areas as well. Considering that you must pay for the mods through Creation Club, it is fantastic for Bethesda in terms of profit. They continue to have people play the game and spend money on it, while bringing something to Skyrim on console that people have always dreamed of.

However, Creation Club was not without controversy, and technically you could blame mods that were already available for PC. A lot of players were outraged about having to pay for mods that had originally been free, but Bethesda is openly supporting modders in the community, and companies must make money. There would not be another Fallout or Elder Scrolls game without the capital behind Bethesda. Sometimes you must take the good along with the bad.

But why is this good for Bethesda? Well other than the slight controversy over the paid mods, people are still playing and downloading mods for the game. In addition, the recent remaster  bought more people onto the Skyrim scene than ever before, along with hardcore fans willing to pay to play on their new console. Mods draw people into Skyrim, and Bethesda has realized the community is massive. By allowing these mods and encouraging them, they are also encouraging new and veteran players to buy and continue playing the game.

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Mods are where the heart of Skyrim is, and I can’t count the amount of times people have spoken to me about mods, whether it’s because they couldn’t get them on their XBOX 360 version or because they downloaded so many on their PC. Mods have enhanced Skyrim and will continue to do so. Considering that projects like Beyond Skyrim are only just getting started, there will eventually be so many more options to explore in the world of Tamriel, far more than Bethesda could have envisioned to begin with. The openness and access to mods make the game lovable, ensuring that players continue to return to the game again and again.

What are your favourite mods from Skyrim? Do you think the mods have gone too far? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Published Dec. 19th 2017

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