For months now it's seemed as though the dream of the PC could be alive on consoles. One of the great strengths of PC gaming over its console cousins has long been the support of player-made modifications (or "mods") that alter elements of the base game, allowing for everything from playing as different characters or sweeping campaigns that barely resemble the game you bought.
Bethesda Softworks, long a champion of mods for its highly popular open-world games like Skyrim and Fallout 4, seemed on the cusp of bridging that gap once and for all. It started allowing Xbox One players to use mods back in May, and for weeks it's seemed like it's only a matter of time until the option comes to the PlayStation 4 as well. But yesterday Bethesda surprised legions of fans by announcing that mod support wouldn't be coming to the PS4, after all. And in its statement, it placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Japanese tech giant.
"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 on its official blog yesterday. "Like you, we are disappointed by Sony's decision given the considerable time and effort we have put into this project, and the amount of time our fans have waited for mod support to arrive."
A taste of what Sony's missing out on.
Currently there's no specific reason for Sony's decision, although in June Bethesda reported it was struggling to work around the PS4's proprietary sound format and Sony's 900MB limit for mod storage. It's still a strange move for Sony, though, particularly since a lot of the initial success of the PlayStation 4 was built on Sony's insistence that they were "for the players," especially when compared to Microsoft's Xbox One.
Microsoft, for its part, didn't waste any time expressing its glee. Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb tweeted yesterday that the Xbox One has supported Fallout 4 mod support for months. The UK Xbox Twitter account also sniped at Sony, listing "mod support" as a key highlight of the Xbox One, along with "backward compatibility" and having what it says is the "fastest, most reliable gaming network."
The news surely comes as a blow for the PS4's Fallout fans. But the full consequences of Sony's actions won't be felt until October 28, when Bethesda releases its Skyrim Special Edition, an updated version of its bestselling vikings-meet-dragons roleplaying game from 2011. By 2014, Bethesda had sold more than 20 million copies of the game, and even today it ranks as the 15th most played game on Steam. Most of that enduring success on PC comes from Skyrim's mods, which currently number in the thousands on Nexus Mods.
And thus, when people this holiday season look for a console for playing Bethesda's update to its beloved classic, they probably won't be looking at a PS4.