Bethesda vs Sony: Mods and “Skyrim Special Edition”


by Jacob Condo, Staff Writer

Over the summer, a heartbreaking development spelt doom for the modding dreams of PlayStation 4 owners.

After weeks of delays, PlayStation users were denied access to mods after Bethesda and Sony failed to negotiate a way that the mods Bethesda insisted on implementing could be allowed.

At that time we were led to believe there were delays on a technical level, but that it was still on the way.

Mods were a major selling point for Bethesda, who ended their E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) segment with the announcement that their games would have mod support on consoles as well as PC. This news was huge.

For as long as Bethesda has had control over the Fallout franchise, players using PC were the only ones able to implement mods.

Mods are modifications made to add functions, characters, objects, quests, and other things to games by users.

Not only do you get the original content of the games, but you can personalize it with whatever content is available on mod-sharing sites. It is also possible that, with technical know-how, you can even make mods for yourself!

With the announcement that mod support was coming to consoles, the open-worlds of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises could potentially become bigger than ever before.

What better time to announce a re-release of Skyrim? To this day, modders keep the game relevant by churning out content.

Even console gamers stuck to “vanilla” Skyrim happily play it for days on end. After five years, this game still impassions people.

So a rerelease that would bring mods to gamers? Were lost our flippin’ minds.

The plan was for mod support to come out for Fallout 4 on consoles. And for Xbox One players, this plan came happily to fruition after a summer of trials and patches.

Microsoft made way for Bethesda and the modding community, and now with these mods, XBox players can make their ideal wastelands.

So what went wrong for Playstation? Delays upon delays.

Apparently Sony and Bethesda had a disagreement about what kinds of mods could be supported. At first it seemed like a technical issue.

The word from Bethesda was that any mod using sound files couldn’t be integrated to PlayStation 4 software and that they were hammering-out the details.

This was annoying of course, but what could we do? I myself have a PS4, and had to sit by while the mods came streaming out onto the internet.

While others got to literally change the game, I got to sit and wait for my turn.

The fact is that Bethesda seems to have made plans around mod support. The Skyrim rerelease only makes fairly cosmetic changes without them, and arguably wouldn’t be worth the sixty dollar price tag.

Sixty dollars for a game I already have, but with better textures and lighting? It wouldn’t sell.

So it seemed that with the upcoming rerelease at stake, Bethesda would have their own best interest to keep their promise of mod support. It just makes sense. Sony however seems not to care.

On September 9, Bethesda had to break that promise.

“After months of discussion with Sony, we regret to say that while we have long been ready to offer mod support on PlayStation 4, Sony has informed us they will not approve user mods the way they should work: where users can do anything they want for either Fallout 4 or Skyrim Special Edition,” Bethesda said in their blog.

This was a hammer blow to PS4 owners playing Bethesda games. Because of some hang-up on Sony’s part (Bethesda seems to point the finger very strongly without flat-out saying it) all of their customers get to watch everyone else use mods.

I can’t say that this is the first time Sony has pissed people off. As much as they happily service their players and network subscribers, they have a nasty knack to pull some pretty dumb stunts as far as what goes on internally.

Look how they handled the hacking attack that took down their network.

Still, Bethesda is trying, and trying hard. They made this promise to their customers, and millions of PS4 owners could be dissuaded entirely from getting the new Skyrim.

Without mods, it’s more of the same. Bethesda and Sony will be missing out on quite a lot of money. A problem Microsoft doesn’t have.

Let’s hope that Bethesda makes good on their promise to find a way to get us the mod support, because otherwise there’s a whole world of gameplay that we can’t reach.

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