Last month, the developer behind open world franchises Fallout and The Elder Scrolls announced that it was suspending efforts to implement mod support for its two latest titles — Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim — on PlayStation 4, strongly intimating that interference from Sony was to blame.
“Until Sony will allow us to offer proper mod support for PS4, that content for Fallout 4 and Skyrim on PlayStation 4 will not be available,” the company said at the time, while noting that it may revisit the matter with Sony “if and when the situation changes.”
It now appears a compromised has been reached, and boy, the emphasis sure is on compromise. In a new company blog post, Bethesda said that mod support would be coming as early as October 28th, coinciding with the release of Skyrim‘s remastered edition on the platform. However, players “will not be able to upload external assets with your PlayStation 4 mods,” meaning they’ll be limited to the assets — textures, models, sound effects — already shipped with the game.
“You will be able to use any assets that come with the game, as most mods do,” Bethesda continues. “Mods on PlayStation 4 will allow you to modify and create your own content by using our Creation Kit.”
While it’s true a lot of simple, straight-forward mods don’t involve any original assets, a lot of the popular ones do, like high-resolution eye and hair textures, new hairstyle models, and original weapons and armor. This compromise with Sony effectively shuts out all of these mods, limiting modders to Bethesda’s own materials.
It’s clear why Sony would push for this, of course: Fallout 4 modders saw a lot of their work stolen and uploaded without permission on Xbox One, and moderating all uploads for inappropriate content (say, Coca Cola logos or penis drawings) represents a huge undertaking of both time and labor. While theft and unauthorized reproductions also happen for PC titles, the major download hubs like Nexus Mods are self-policing to the extent that it’s relatively rare — or anyway, it’s abstracted enough legally from the game’s publisher that a blind eye can be turned. This isn’t the case on a self-contained platform like PlayStation 4, where Sony and Bethesda face additional liability. So, the simplest and easiest solution is to restrict modders to a known quantity.
It also addresses another issue Bethesda has had with Sony, namely the PlayStation 4’s hard cap on uploaded file size. Ensuring that mods use only the assets already shipped with your game sure obviates anybody trying to upload 4GB of super high resolution loincloth textures or whatever.
Bethesda indicates that it plans to roll out mod support for Fallout 4 after a successful launch for Skyrim, and that both titles will get 4K support for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 Pro console, due out November 10th.
Top image: Buzz Lightyear armor for Paladin Danse, by Sorenova.