Modding,  Skyrim

Skyrim updated, again, mods broke, again

So Bethesda dropped another Skyrim update, with some patches for the new Creations menu added onto the game’s main menu.

Which of course meant that all the core community mods had to update again. Which meant everybody’s modded playthroughs got borked.

(Not calling this a hot take, because that would imply I actually have a heated opinion on this. And there isn’t any particular heat here. So call this a clement take if you like!)

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority in this, but I am not inclined to bitch about Bethesda doing this. It’s their game, they can update it if they want to. I’ve been in tech too long to muster any anger over a company deciding to update their own product. And it doesn’t even matter that Skyrim is nearly 13 years old at this point. It still makes Bethesda money, so they think it’s still worth their time to update it. End of story.

I’m not even hostile to the idea of the Creations menu and the idea that Bethesda is trying to promote additional paid content for the game. Hell, I’ve gotten enough enjoyment out of running the Anniversary Edition that I’d be willing to pay a few dollars for additional good paid content. (Once I get a job again, anyway. Right now such things would not be in the budget.) I have no objections whatsoever to mod authors who are skilled enough getting some pay for their work.

“But it’s a cash grab!” I might hear you cry. Yeah, and? Bethesda’s a gaming company. Of course they’re going to want to make money off their games. As I said above, even though Skyrim’s nearly 13 years old, they’re still making money off of it. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect Bethesda to never ever update Skyrim again. As long as they’re still making money on it, they’re still going to look for ways for that to continue. Which means, yes, Skyrim will periodically continue to get updates.

And as invested in Skyrim’s mods as the modding community is, we’re still very much an edge case. A lot more players out there won’t ever bother with trying to go to the trouble to mod their games. Because as I’m sure any modding player out there can attest to, making Vortex or MO2 work can take some effort. Especially if you’re playing on an unusual platform, like, say, the Steam Deck.

So I think it’s also very reasonable for Bethesda to be courting the players out there who might not ever bother to mod their games if they have to go to the trouble to download a mod manager. By improving the ability to add mods right inside the game itself, it lowers the barrier to entry for those players.

“But it’s over ten years old! Why are they wasting time updating it when they could be working on Starfield?! Or Elder Scrolls VI?!” Again, yeah, and? Who says they aren’t working on those things? If Bethesda is suitably staffed, they can multitask. This isn’t a matter of every single person in the company only working on one game at once.

Don’t get me wrong–it is frigging annoying to have my modded playthroughs interrupted when Bethesda drops another update. It’s extra annoying if mods in my playthrough don’t catch up, if their authors abandoned those mods. Under no circumstances am I saying players shouldn’t be annoyed by that. It is annoying.

And I won’t say players should just play Skyrim without mods, either. Because if you’ve gotten used to playing with mods, it’s a jolt to have to go back to an unmodded experience. If nothing else because of mods addressing a lot of still-existing bugs in the game.

Some of the folks I regularly talk to on my Discord about Skyrim are worrying that this might mean the end of community mods as we know them. And okay, yeah, legit. During the last couple of years I’ve seen so many big names in tech succumb to enshittification that I too fear the risk of Bethesda eventually going “if you want to run mods at all you have to do it off our servers and we’ll charge you for it”. I hope this won’t happen, at least not any time soon. I don’t currently have any reason to believe it will happen. But I’m not going to say it won’t ever do so.

But at the end of the day, as annoying I find it to have my Kendeshel and Elessir playthroughs interrupted again, it’s still just a game. It isn’t the end of my world to not be able to play those two characters right now. I have other things to play. ESO’s running a new event right now, and I could always play more Morrowind or Oblivion. And even though it’s a non-modded playthrough, I am still enjoying running Finds-The-Way’s playthrough in German. Not gonna be bored, is what I’m saying here.

Now if y’all will pardon me, I’ll be over here mashing the Check For Updates button in my Vortex till RaceMenu drops a new update. ;D

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.