In principle, I have nothing against paid mods. Yet in practice, Bethesda’s Fallout 4 Creation Club has long way to go if it’s to become an appealing alternative to free add-ons.
True, it’s still early days for the Fallout 4 Creation Club which formally launched on the 29th of August, having previously been in beta on the PC. Those playing Fallout 4 on the PS4, PC or XBox One can now – in addition to downloading free game add-ons – purchase “content” add-ons, which have been approved and developed in conjunction with Bethesda.
Speaking to GameSpot, Pete Hines, Bethesda’s Vice President of Marketing stated that Creation Club add-ons are “Internally created, or internally created along with external developers. They’re fully internally developed and work the same across all three platforms.” While those last two sentences seem somewhat contradictory, the unspoken implication is that Creation Club add-ons are of a higher standard than those included in Fallout 4‘s regular library of downloadable add-ons, which still remains free. But the anaemic range of Creation Club offerings is unlikely to inspire anyone to dip into their digital wallets.
There are a mere twelve items on the Creation Club storefront, many of which are cosmetic; Hellfire Power Armour, Chinese Stealth Armour, Horse Power Armour, a Military Backpack, Morgan’s Space Suit, three Pip-Boy paint jobs, a black power armour skin, a handmade shotgun, a Gauss Gun and a furniture pack. It’s not the strongest of launch-line ups, but an equally important issue is just how much Bethesda have chosen to charge for these items. It’s unclear what kind of cut, if any, “external developers” get from Content Club add-ons but the items are pricey to say the least.
The Gauss Gun, for example, costs 400 credits, which is £2.76, or the equivalent in your local currency. Each Fallout 4 player does get their first 100 credits for free, but that’s only enough to purchase two of the aforementioned Pip-Boy skins. To give this some context, you can purchase a Final Fantasy XV add-on, the “Masamune” sword, for a mere £0.39. Just Cause 3‘s weapons are a little pricier, though you can still purchase a two-weapon add-on pack for £3.19, working out at roughly £1.60 for each.
But you can’t spend just £2.76 since you can only purchase points in packs. You’ll have to fork out £5.99 for 750 credits, £11.19 for 1500 credits, £19.99 for 3000 credits or £29.99 for 5000 credits. The only real stand-out item on the store is the spacesuit from Prey, another Bethesda title. Were you to get this, even though it costs the equivalent of £2.00, you’d have to spend £5.99 just to purchase enough points. As cool looking as the suit is and as much as I like Prey, I’ll pass on that.
Then there’s the two-headed mutant elephant in the room – the problem that the Creation Club is going to have to overcome if Bethesda wants it to become an actual money-spinner: Why would you pay money for these mods when you get them for free? You can go to Fallout 4‘s mod library and download free equivalents of nearly all the Creation Club add-ons. In fact, on the XBox One and PC you can, free of charge, get hold of additional quests, graphical overhauls and more. PS4 owners don’t quite get the same range of mods due to Sony’s restrictions, but there’s still a wealth of free content there.
Fallout 4’s Creation Club does have one thing going for it though: Using a Creation Club add-on does not disable achievements whereas other add-ons do. This may mean that Bethesda will steer clear of adding mods that unbalance the game or could be considered cheating, but ultimately, to be competitive, Bethesda needs to go the extra mile. They need to offer add-ons that go above and beyond to distinguish themselves before they consider charging a premium. Halving the prices of their content would help, but the Creation Club really needs to stand out, and so far, it’s anything but special.