We believe mod developers are just that: developers. We love that Valve has given new choice to the community in how they reward them, and want to pass that choice along to our players. We are listening and will make changes as necessary.
We have a long history with modding, dating back to 2002 with The Elder Scrolls Construction Set. It’s our belief that our games become something much more with the promise of making it your own. Even if you never try a mod, the idea you could do anything is at the core of our game experiences. Over the years we have met much resistance to the time and attention we put into making our games heavily moddable. The time and costs involved, plus the legal hurdles, haven’t made it easy. Modding is one of the reasons Oblivion was re-rated from T to M, costing us millions of dollars. While others in the industry went away from it, we pushed more toward it.
We are always looking for new ways to expand modding. Our friends at Valve share many of the same beliefs in mods and created the Steam Workshop with us in 2012 for Skyrim, making it easier than ever to search and download mods. Along with Skyrim Nexus and other sites, our players have many great ways to get mods.
Despite all that, it’s still too small in our eyes. Only 8% of the Skyrim audience has ever used a mod. Less than 1% has ever made one.
In our early discussions regarding Workshop with Valve, they presented data showing the effect paid user content has had on their games, their players, and their modders. All of it hugely positive. They showed, quite clearly, that allowing content creators to make money increased the quality and choice that players had. They asked if we would consider doing the same.
This was in 2012 and we had many questions, but only one demand. It had to be open, not curated like the current models. At every step along the way with mods, we have had many opportunities to step in and control things, and decided not to. We wanted to let our players decide what is good, bad, right, and wrong. We will not pass judgment on what they do. We’re even careful about highlighting a modder on this blog for that very reason.
Three years later and Valve has finally solved the technical and legal hurdles to make such a thing possible, and they should be celebrated for it. It wasn’t easy. They are not forcing us, or any other game, to do it. They are opening a powerful new choice for everyone.
We believe most mods should be free. But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don’t think it’s right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create.
We also don’t think we should tell the developer what to charge. That is their decision, and it’s up to the players to decide if that is a good value. We’ve been down similar paths with our own work, and much of this gives us déjà vu from when we made the first DLC: Horse Armor. Horse Armor gave us a start into something new, and it led to us giving better and better value to our players with DLC like Shivering Isles, Point Lookout, Dragonborn and more. We hope modders will do the same.
Opening up a market like this is full of problems. They are all the same problems every software developer faces (support, theft, etc.), and the solutions are the same. Valve has done a great job addressing those, but there will be new ones, and we’re confident those will get solved over time also. If the system shows that it needs curation, we’ll consider it, but we believe that should be a last resort.
There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn’t replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop than he made in all the years he asked for donations.
Many have questioned the split of the revenue, and we agree this is where it gets debatable. We’re not suggesting it’s perfect, but we can tell you how it was arrived at.
First Valve gets 30%. This is standard across all digital distributions services and we think Valve deserves this. No debate for us there.
The remaining is split 25% to the modder and 45% to us. We ultimately decide this percentage, not Valve.
Is this the right split? There are valid arguments for it being more, less, or the same. It is the current industry standard, having been successful in both paid and free games. After much consultation and research with Valve, we decided it’s the best place to start.
This is not some money grabbing scheme by us. Even this weekend, when Skyrim was free for all, mod sales represented less than 1% of our Steam revenue.
The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player base and built in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales data, we’re looking at some modders making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited.
We also look outside at how open IP licenses work, with things like Amazon’s Kindle Worlds, where you can publish fan fiction and get about 15-25%, but that’s only an IP license, no content or tools.
The 25% cut has been operating on Steam successfully for years, and it’s currently our best data point. More games are coming to Paid Mods on Steam soon, and many will be at 25%, and many won’t. We’ll figure out over time what feels right for us and our community. If it needs to change, we’ll change it.
The Larger Issue of the Gaming Community and Modding
This is where we are listening, and concerned, the most. Despite seeming to sit outside the community, we are part of it. It is who we are. We don’t come to work, leave and then ‘turn off’. We completely understand the potential long-term implications allowing paid mods could mean. We think most of them are good. Some of them are not good. Some of them could hurt what we have spent so long building. We have just as much invested in it as our players.
Some are concerned that this whole thing is leading to a world where mods are tied to one system, DRM’d and not allowed to be freely accessed. That is the exact opposite of what we stand for. Not only do we want more mods, easier to access, we’re anti-DRM as far as we can be. Most people don’t know, but our very own Skyrim DLC has zero DRM. We shipped Oblivion with no DRM because we didn’t like how it affected the game.
There are things we can control, and things we can’t. Our belief still stands that our community knows best, and they will decide how modding should work. We think it’s important to offer choice where there hasn’t been before.
We will do whatever we need to do to keep our community and our games as healthy as possible. We hope you will do the same.
Bethesda Game Studios
Ready for more survival horror?
With a few days of release under its belt, positive reviews for The Evil Within’s newest DLC, The Consequence, have made their way online. In particular, reviewers are highlighting the game’s storyline, chilling atmosphere, and memorable boss battles.
Game Revolution (8/10) — “The Evil Within’s story can be hard to follow with all its moving parts and multi-dimensional layers. But there are a lot of fans out there, including myself, who find it fascinating. If you’re one of these people, The Consequence is a must-play as it addresses questions left unanswered at the end of the the main story by allowing you to see what happens from Juli Kidman’s perspective. Things are not as they seem.”
Bloody Disgusting (8/10) — The Evil Within had some memorable bosses, but there are a few here that give them a run for their money. The final boss is just good enough to make me think the whole point of Juli’s story was so Mikami could swoop in and finish it off with a bang.
Videogamer.com (8/10) — Its conclusion is at least as satisfying as that found in the main game, and probably more so given the revelations it contains.
God is a Geek (8/10) — “The Consequence wreaks havoc on the nerves…”
In case you missed it, The Consequence follows up the events of The Evil Within’s 1st DLC, The Assignment. As for what’s next for The Evil Within… stay tuned for more information on the game’s final DLC, The Executioner.
Believe it or not, we’re less than two weeks away from the release of the standalone prequel to last year’s Wolfenstein: The New Order. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, here we come!
Over the last few weeks on our Wolfenstein Facebook page, we’ve been sharing concept images and in-game created by the team at MachineGames. This past week’s contributions, created by artist Christoffer Lovéus, provide background on SS Paranormal Division’s astute and archaeology-obsessed leader, Helga Von Schabbs.
What are Helga’s motives? And what exactly makes her so evil. To give some background on her character, here’s MachineGames’ Senior Narrative Designer, Tommy Tordsson Björk :
“Helga is an adventurous, intelligent and obsessive tomb raider, completely callous to the suffering of others, who likes to indulge in finely aged reds from the wine cellar in Castle Wolfenstein. Coming from a noble background, she was infected with polio as a child leaving her with a stiff leg.
She is driven by the need to control her fate and make an everlasting mark on history. For Helga, joining the Nazis was, besides being appealed by the ideology, a means to accomplish this end. Through her archaeological research, she is trying to connect her blood-line to King Otto, the Holy Roman Emperor.”
If you’ve missed any of our other preview art, check out the slideshow below featuring some of the highlights, and LIKE the official Wolfenstein Facebook page to see new content first. And elsewhere, we recommend checking out Executive Producer Jerk Gustafsson interview with Gamespot, as well as his newly-minted podcast with Xbox’s Major Nelson.
Between now and launch on May 5th, we’ll have plenty more to share on The Old Blood — gameplay content, written features, and more.
Ready for May 5th by ordering this new screen-print poster for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood at store.bethsoft.com.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a standalone game releasing on May 5, 2015, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC for $19.99 / £14.99 / €19.99 / AUD$39.95. The Old Blood will also have a physical release in Europe on May 15, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
To coincide with the newly announced updates to the Skyrim Workshop, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is going to be more accessible than ever. Freely accessible!
If you don’t already own Skyrim, between now(4/23/15 @ 1pm EST) and Monday at 1pm EST, you’ll be able to download and play the base version of Skyrim as much as you want for free. You can even download free mods from the Workshop to enhance your experience.
On top of being able to play for free, this weekend we’ve got some pretty big savings on all content for Skyrim. Deals include:
- Skyrim Legendary Edition – 66% off/$39.99 or $13.60
- Skyrim Main Game 75% off/$19.99 or $5
- Dawnguard 62.5% off/$19.99 or $7.50
- Dragonborn 62.5% off/$19.99 or $7.50
- Hearthfire 50% off/$4.99 or $2.50
Note: To be able to access paid mods, you will need to own a copy of Skyrim.
We’ve had a long and excellent relationship with our good friends at Valve. We worked together to make the Workshop a huge part of Skyrim, and we’re excited that something we’ve been working together on for a long time is finally happening. You can now charge for the mods you create.
Unlike other curated games on Steam that allow users to sell their creations, this will be the first game with an open market. It will not be curated by us or Valve. It was essential to us that our fans decide what they want to create, what they want to download, and what they want to charge.
Many of our fans have been modding our games since Morrowind, for over 10 years. They now have the opportunity to earn money doing what they love – and all fans have a new way to support their favorite mod authors. We’ve also updated Skyrim and the Creation Kit with new features to help support paid mods including the ability to upload master files, adding more categories and removing filesize limit restrictions.
What does this mean for you?
As a modder, you now have the option of listing your creations at a price determined by you. Or, you can continue to share your projects for free. For those shopping for new mods, Valve is making sure you can try any mod risk free.
For full details on these changes to the Skyrim Workshop, check out Steam’s announcement page and FAQ.
Modding has been important to all our games for such a long time. We try to create worlds that come alive and you can make your own, but it’s in modding where it truly does. Thanks again for all your incredible support over the years. We hope steps like this breathe new life into Skyrim for everyone.
Bethesda Game Studios
If you played through Wolfenstein: The New Order, you know that the game’s replayability is strengthened by the gameplay-based, goal-oriented perk system. The standalone Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (out on May 5 digitally, and physically in EU on May 15) shares this in common with last year’s release.
This week on our official Wolfenstein Facebook page, we’ll be previewing some of these perks, which also unlock achievements on Xbox One/Steam and trophies on PlayStation 4.
For a preview of how this system will work in The Old Blood, we’ll be sharing details on some of our favorites this week on the official Wolfenstein Facebook page. Here’s a sneak peek at today’s unveil of the “Can Carry Machine Guns” Perk:
“Can Carry Heavy Machine Gun” Perk
How to Get It: Pull off 200 kills using MG46.
What It Does: You no longer need to leave heavy machine guns behind. Can carry a heavy machinegun in your inventory/weapon wheel.
Be sure to tune in every day this week on Facebook.com/Wolfenstein to see other new perks and Trophies/Achievements revealed.
But remember: every action has consequences!
Find out Juli Kidman’s fate in The Evil Within: The Consequence — available today across all the main game’s platforms for $9.99.
If you’ve played The Evil Within’s first DLC, you know Kidman is precariously stuck between completing her assignment from the Mystery Man of Mobius or staying loyal to Sebastian and Joseph. The Consequence picks up right where The Assignment left off and provides a balance of stealth-action and gunplay. That’s right – this time Juli’s packing heat.
Haven’t played The Assignment yet? Double dip on your Kidman quests by purchasing The Evil Within’s Season Pass for $19.99. The pass will give you access to both released DLCs, as well as the upcoming download, The Executioner.
Prepare yourself for these concluding chapters with our release day gameplay trailer embedded above. To keep up on the latest community news for The Evil Within, be sure to keep tabs on the game’s official Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
The QuakeCon 2015 20th Anniversary Shirt Design Contest is down to the four finalists. To everyone that submitted their entries… thanks for participating!
Between now and April 26th, we encourage you to visit the contest page to vote for the finalists shown above. We’ll be announcing the final winner on or around April 29th!
Please view the updated contest rules here.
If you haven’t been following our Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts for The Evil Within, you might have missed some of terrifying first-look screenshots and animated gifs for part two of Juli Kidman’s quest, The Consequence.
Because we’re more forgiving than Mobius, we’ve got some of the recent highlights — including last week’s TwitchWorks stream — available today on the eve of The Consequence’s release.
The Evil Within – The Consequence
Back in February we announced our plans for our first-ever E3 Showcase, and now it’s time to find out how you can attend the event!
If you’re planning to be in the Los Angeles area on June 14th, we’ve set up a registration process for you here. We will select a lucky group of registered fans to receive official invites for themselves and one guest to the E3 Showcase. If you are selected, you’ll receive an invite to the event on May 14th via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please add this email address to your email contact list to help ensure you receive your official invite should you be selected.
The deadline to register for a chance to attend Bethesda’s E3 Showcase is May 4th, 2015. Questions? Check out our E3 Showcase FAQ here.
Be there or be squared … err… be cubed… or how about just #BE3. Yeah, that’s it.
The Consequence is right around the corner (this coming Tuesday) — it’s ready to jump out and scare the wits out of you. Before wrapping up Juli Kidman’s story yourself, join us for a mostly-spoiler-free stream of gameplay on Bethesda TwitchWorks.
We’re scaring ourselves with The Consequence this Fear-iday, April 17th on Twitch.TV/Bethesda (follow us here!). Relive the nightmares all over or see what you may have missed by visiting The Evil Within YouTube playlist here.
Been away from Tamriel for awhile? Now’s a great time to jump back into the action of The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.
Beginning today at 10:00 AM EDT and running through Monday, April 20th at 10:00 AM EDT, we’re hosting a “Welcome Back Weekend” for beta participants that haven’t yet purchased ESO. The free weekend includes all the major updates to the game introduced before and with the launch of Tamriel Unlimited, including no longer requiring a monthly subscription.
What else is new in the ESO community? Check out highlights below…
- Learn how your fan art could score you a Wacom Intuos Medium Tablet or and plenty of other amazing ESO prizes in the Collectible Creatures Fan Art Contest. Full details here.
- The ESO team has archived their 15th episode of ESO Live. Follow the channel on Twitch and catch up on all the archived episodes on YouTube.
- Having recently celebrated the game’s first year, members of ZeniMax Online Studios have reflected on their favorite memories of Year One. Devs include Game Director Matt Firor, Creative Director Paul Sage, and Art Director Jared Carr.
Not on PC/Mac? We’ll be sharing more details on the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 release — coming June 9th — in the near future.
Much like the battle-hardened B.J. Blazkowicz might do, let’s start by getting right to the point. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is a standalone game releasing on May 5, 2015, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. It’s a direct prequel to last year’s smash-hit Wolfenstein: The New Order. You don’t need to own New Order to download and play this release. And for just $19.99 / £14.99 / €19.99 / AUD$39.95, you’ll get two interconnected stories: “Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves” and “The Dark Secrets of Helga Von Schabbs.” The gameplay unfolds across eight crackling chapters stuffed with guns, grenades and a cavalcade of all-new Nazi nemeses. And it’s all developed by MachineGames, the same team that brought B.J. back in The New Order last year.
Got it? Great. Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s get to the good stuff.
In order to acquire the very latest intel on this upcoming prequel, we flew to scenic Sweden and snuck through the heavily fortified halls of MachineGames to gather up some top-secret insights straight from the source. After some tough interrogations (and an even tougher exfiltration… but that’s a story for another day), we’re back with 7 things you need to know about Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.
1. Back in Time
First, the big question: Why a prequel? Why not, say, explore what happens after the cliffhanger ending of The New Order? Or even tell a side story, from another character’s perspective? The answer is twofold. First, the 1940s is the perfect fit for the distinctive vibe that sets this DLC apart from the main game. “It works well with the pulp B-movie thing we’re going for,” says Executive Producer Jerk Gustafsson.
Going back in time also offered an opportunity to fill in some story gaps while delivering completely new gameplay. “We get to explore things that were only hinted at in New Order,” says Senior Producer John Jennings. “We get to find out what the Nazis were up to, and reveal a little bit about how they actually got some of this advanced technology that let them win World War II.”
Because the Nazis were still discovering and developing this technology, B.J. will face off against early iterations of known foes, like the lumbering Supersoldaten (super soldiers) who, this time around, are tethered to a power source – creating all new gameplay possibilities. And that’s just for starters…
2. Everything Old Is New Again
The Old Blood might send players on a nostalgic trip back in time, but don’t think that means recycled assets or shopworn gameplay. “In terms of features and content, almost everything is new,” Gustafsson says. “That includes everything from the environments to the weapons and enemies.”
Of course it didn’t begin that way. Initially the team was planning to build the DLC using The New Order as the foundation. “The idea was to reuse pretty much everything,” says Art Director Axel Torvenius. “But in the end everything is at least touched in some way or another.”
That means all-new enemies (like the aforementioned Supersoldaten), new ways to move through the world (more on that later), and even some subtle adjustments to already-existing elements, like the well-received commander system – a key component of the stealth gameplay.
3. Pipe Dreams
“Everyone groans when they see the takedowns in the trailer,” Jennings laughs. “That’s a good reaction!”
Jennings is talking about B.J.’s newest toy: the metal pipe. Yes, pipe. Early in the game B.J. acquires this handy helper, which then plays a key role throughout The Old Blood. And in more ways than one.
“The idea was to have something new – something different than the knife,” Gustafsson says. What sets the pipe apart from the knife? For starters, B.J. can connect and pull apart the pipe, allowing him to single- and dual-wield this melee weapon. B.J. also uses it for climbing, breaking through weak walls, and even reaching high hatches in the ceiling. “It’s equally a progression tool as it is a weapon,” Gustafsson explains.
As for those brutal takedowns? Get ready to grimace. The takedowns vary depending on whether you use it as a single- or dual-wield weapon – but one thing remains consistent: these pipes are hollow. Meaning that if you gank someone, there’s a good chance a geyser of blood’s gonna spurt out the other end. “We had a lot of fun doing takedowns for it,” Gustafsson grins.
4. Dead Rising
The Old Blood has plenty of nods to the 2001 classic Return to Castle Wolfenstein. But it’s not just the setting. Sure, old-school players will get a nostalgic thrill as they sneak and shoot their way through the castle walls, and they’ll run into a few familiar faces along the way, including Agent One and Kessler. The weapons and collectibles – while completely new – are reminiscent of the classic shooter. Even the plot shares some similarities with the earlier game. “Everything is of course very, very different, but some of the storyline is still there,” Gustafsson says.
And then there’s the undead.
Don’t expect these Nazi zombies to be exactly like you remember from the 2001 classic. “These types of enemies can be tricky, because they don’t typically have range weapons,” Gustafsson says. “But in The Old Blood, some of them actually use a rifle, and we also have some intense dash attacks!”
5. Grand Adventure
Speaking of fun, The Old Blood is all about heart-thumping, pulse-pounding, bullet-blasting thrills. While there’s a fully developed story, it’s got a much more pulp B-movie vibe – which matches perfectly with the overall direction of this standalone DLC.
“We wanted The Old Blood to be more gameplay focused,” Gustafsson says. So expect a heaping helping of high-intensity moments, loads of fast action, and a rollicking sense of adventure – from start to finish. “It’s something you can just play through and immediately have fun,” Gustafsson promises. (And having seen it in action, we wholeheartedly agree!)
6. Any Order
Worried that you haven’t yet played The New Order? Not a problem! The Old Blood not only teaches you everything you need to know about the gameplay, but it also won’t spoil a single thing in The New Order. “It really is a prequel,” Jennings says. “The last scene of Old Blood is a couple of hours before the start of New Order in terms of the timeline, so it sets things up perfectly.”
And if you have played The New Order? Even better! “There are elements in The Old Blood that fill in some blanks in the New Order story. There’s more stuff about Da’at Yichud technology, even though we don’t necessarily call it that. There are hints and clues and nods to The New Order hidden throughout the game,” Jennings says. “People playing it in different orders will get a unique experience, but both of them will have a good time.”
Yes, The Old Blood is a fantastical take on alternate history, swirling with mysticism and suffused with retro-futuristic tech. But that didn’t stop the MachineGames team from pursuing the highest level of verity. Especially when it comes to drunken Nazis singing in a tavern.
Midway through the second half of the game, B.J. has to infiltrate said tavern, which is overstuffed with those aforementioned inebriated Nazis. While the mo-cap was all properly done by a team of trained actors, when it came to those drunkenly dulcet tones, the developers stepped in and took one for the team.
“It was a request from our audio director,” Jennings smiles. “The voices were all done by us. We got the lyrics a couple of days before and had to learn German. Several cases of beer were purchased a couple of hours before the session, to make sure our vocal chords were sufficiently lubricated. We were so bad performing it. Everyone was overlapping each other, getting the timing wrong. You couldn’t actually hear half the words half the time!”
So how did it turn out? “We ran it past a native-speaking German, and he said it sounded fine,” Jennings says. “Clearly, the beer was kind of important. It was a lot of fun.”
NOTE: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood will also have a physical release in Europe on May 15, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
For the fourth year in a row, Jeremy Soule’s music to The Elder Scrolls series has made the Classic FM Hall of Fame top 300 – the world’s biggest poll of classical music tastes. Ranked 11th overall (just behind Beethoven’s Symphony No.6 in F major Op.68), it’s a huge honor for The Elder Scrolls franchise and a testament of the amazing fans of the series.
Thanks to all the fans that voted!
Kudos to Vice.com for an amazing feature last week. Fond of Fallout 3’s memorable Tranquility Lane questlines, writer Joe Donnelly decided to approach a therapist with the plotlines of well-known Vault 112 simulation.
Here’s the kicker. Donnelly didn’t just ask what it might have all meant to Bethesda Game Studios, but rather, he decided to share the plotlines as if it they were his actual dreams.
Describing Tranquility Lane, here’s Donnelly:
“For me, it’s the most chilling dream sequence of any video game, which is why I decided to have it analyzed. I had Christine, a holistic therapist and dream analysis specialist, believe that the Tranquility Lane segment was, in fact, a recurring dream of my own. I described the minutiae of the dream, before asking her professional opinion as to its possible meaning.”
Read the full feature at Vice.com. Now if someone could just help me explain why I keep losing teeth in my dreams.
Recently in our official forums, member Darkelfguy reached out to me to let me know about a new Morrowind modding interview project he’s begun — in a similar vein to the modding projects we’ve featured for Morrowind, Fallout, Oblivion, and Skyrim here on Bethesda Blog.
The most recent interview features MikeandIke. If you’d like to see more in-depth interviews like this one, subscribe to the Morrowind Modding Showcases on YouTube.
Nikki Wolf shows off her loyalty to President John Henry Eden with her handmade Enclave power armor. Visit her cosplay page, Dominique de Leon to see more.
In case you missed it, T-Dawg and others have begun work on a new community portal — appropriately called QuakeCon 2015 Community and hosted at community.quakecon.org.
Be sure to stop by for community updates from your favorite Con people. We’ll be watching and sharing highlights here on the official site.