The Creation Club introduced by Bethesda in 2017 provides a way to purchase curated and approved mods known as Creations to enhance Skyrim, with some free items available. However, most Creation Club content still needs to be paid for à la carte to access. Let‘s dive into how it all works.
What is the Creation Club and how does it work?
The Creation Club serves as a marketplace for official high-quality mods called Creations which are developed in partnership between Bethesda Game Studios and external creators. It operates on a credits-based system, similar to DLC. You can purchase Credits with real money to spend on Creations you want.
Bethesda launched the Creation Club as a way to allow new content to be sustainably funded beyond the normal DLC cycle, while still maintaining their standards of quality assurance. It provides a revenue stream for mod authors and expands what is possible to add to Skyrim vs unpaid mods.
Once purchased, Creations integrate cleanly into Skyrim with new items, abilities, quests and areas, much like mini-DLCs. The content goes through compatibility and performance testing before release.
Free Creations Included for Everyone
While most Creation Club mods must be bought, some are permanently free:
Fishing – Lets you fish using rods and bait, adding 20 new aquatic species to the game‘s rivers and lakes. It‘s one of the most popular Creations.
Rare Curios – Provides new rare items and expanded merchant supplies to Khajiit caravans and fences across Skyrim.
Survival Mode – Adds hunger, fatigue, and exposure mechanics requiring your character to sleep and eat. It completely changes the gameplay experience.
Saints & Seducers – A major questline with new weapons/armor themed around the Shivering Isles realm of the Daedric Prince Sheogorath.
These 4 Creations are a nice way to enhance Skyrim free of charge if you own the Special Edition or Switch version. They add hours of substantial gameplay content spanning fishing, survival, gear and adventuring.
How Much Does Creation Club Content Cost?
Aside from those 4 free Creations, all other mods must be purchased separately:
There are currently 75+ Creations available, excluding the free ones
Creations are priced from 100 Credits up to 500 Credits each
Credit packs start at 750 Credits for $7.99 up to 5500 Credits for $39.99
So to acquire every single Creation, it costs over 9000 Credits valued at $120+. This is very expensive for the average player.
However, you can buy just the Creations you want rather than all of them. And promotions regularly discount individual Creations or offer others for free temporarily.
Accessing Purchased Creations In-Game
Once you spend Credits to buy a Creation, it must still be downloaded via the in-game Creation Club menu. The new content will then be added to your game, often through a new quest, crafting recipes or direct delivery to your inventory.
On PC, Xbox and PlayStation, open the Creation Club menu from the main menu and find the "Purchased" section to download anything you own. Make sure to fully download a Creation before starting a new game so the content is present.
Here is a quick step-by-step flowchart:
|Steps to Access Purchased Creations|
|1. Buy Creation Club Credits with real money|
|2. Spend Credits to purchase desired Creations|
|3. Launch Skyrim and access Creation Club menu|
|4. Under "Purchased" tab, download your Creations|
|5. New quests, items etc will be added to your game|
Top Creation Club Downloads
Looking at the most popular Creations gives a sense of what new content players are most interested in:
Fishing – 19.8 million downloads
Survival Mode – 12.3 million downloads
Saints & Seducers – 4.2 million downloads
Rare Curios – 3.1 million downloads
Umbra – 2.4 million downloads
Forgotten Seasons – 1.8 million downloads
Fishing being the runaway hit shows fans really wanted more activities and realism added to Skyrim‘s world. Survival Mode also proves extremely popular by changing the core gameplay loop.
Community Reactions to Paid Mods
Fan reactions to the Creation Club system have been somewhat mixed:
Many appreciate supporting mod authors and accessing high-quality content more easily
Some feel obligated to pay for mods that used to be free
Others dislike the closed system compared to nexusmods with over 60,000 free mods
Certain mods like horse armor packs are seen as overpriced at $2 for minimal content
Fans want deeper gameplay changes only found in unpaid mods
Overall it offers a compromise between paid DLC and unlimited free modding. But the general consensus is more content should be added permanently free rather than relying on sales.
Comparing Paid Creations to Free Mods
Let‘s compare and contrast some Creation Club downloads to popular free Skyrim mods:
Saints & Seducers (500 Credits)
Adds substantial Shivering Isles themed questline plus new assets and followers
Very polished experience akin to DLC
But some free quest mods like Beyond Skyrim: Bruma offer far more content
Umbra (150 Credits)
Cool throwback weapon from Elder Scrolls lore
Quest to obtain Umbra is atmospheric but short
Free weapon/armor packs have far more items overall
Bone Wolf (400 Credits)
Lets you summon Bone Wolf mount anywhere
Fun new mechanic to traverse the world faster
But free mods add many more diverse creature mounts
Dwarven Mudcrab (100 Credits)
Adorable robotic mudcrab pet follower
Feels like a mini-DLC with professional voice acting
Visual flair but very minor gameplay addition
While Creations meet Bethesda‘s quality standards, unlimited free mods often go way further in scope and creativity. Paid mods alone cannot match the variety and passion of the unpaid Skyrim modding community.
Expert Opinions on Paid Modding
Gaming industry analysts have mixed views on the emergence of paid mods through vehicles like the Creation Club:
"It‘s a valuable new revenue stream for publishers to monetize games post-launch."
"There are ethical concerns about monetizing free fan passion projects."
"Curated paid mods have advantages in reliability, compatibility and support."
"But the volume of content seems low for the prices charged so far."
"Modders deserve compensation for their work, but a donation model may be preferred."
The paid mods landscape is still evolving. While promising for funding quality content, it should complement rather than replace Skyrim‘s vibrant free mod community.
The Value of Skyrim Anniversary Edition
The Anniversary Edition bundles the base game with all 74 Creation Club add-ons for $49.99. This provides the most cost-effective way to obtain all available Creations.
Is it worth upgrading from Skyrim Special Edition?
For new players – Certainly. You receive the definitive edition with all DLCs, 500+ hours of content and modern visuals for $50.
For returning fans – Debatable. Long-time fans may prefer their carefully curated free mod lists to Creation Club content. But there is enough new substance to justify the upgrade.
For modders – Potentially. Creations nicely complement existing mod load orders. And having full content access saves individually buying Creations.
Getting Creation Club Content Affordably
For those looking to acquire Creation Club mods more economically, consider:
Buying only the specific Creations that look appealing rather than all addons
Waiting for promotions where popular Creations get discounted or offered free for a limited time
Purchasing Credits when they are on sale to maximize your purchasing power
Upgrading to Anniversary Edition on discount to get all available content bundled
With selective purchases during sales, you could feasibly get 15 of the best Creations for around $40 rather than paying full price.
The Bottom Line
To summarize clearly – no, most Creation Club content in Skyrim is not free unless you‘re receiving one of the promotions. While all players can access a few free Creations, acquiring more requires purchasing Credits. Ultimately the Creation Club offers an accessible way to expand your adventures, but expect to pay à la carte beyond the few complimentary mods.