Skyrim's latest patch has pissed off players for two reasons: It broke old mods and added new paid ones

Skyrim intro cinematic skill - Hey, you. You're finally awake.
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Bethesda has released a big new update for Skyrim Special Edition that has managed the impressive feat of annoying players for two entirely separate reasons. Some are irritated by what they see as a renewed focus on paid mods for Skyrim, while others are chapped that the update has apparently broken a large number of existing mods.

Bethesda launched the original paid mods program for Skyrim way back in 2015, and to say it didn't go well is like saying the Hindenburg had some safety issues: The uproar was so immediate and fierce that the entire program was scrapped within a week. It was resurrected, sort of, in 2017 with the launch of the Creation Club, which Bethesda said was not a paid mods system even though mods in the program were only accessible with "credits" that had to be purchased with "real money." 

As we noted at the time it was all a bit confusing, but what it ultimately came down to is that some mods would be free and others—those on the Creation Club—would cost money.

The update released today is essentially a refinement of that program that pulls together existing mods and Creation Club items, along with new Creations as they're now known, under a new Creations menu in Skyrim Special Edition. Bethesda has also launched a new Verified Creator Program, "the evolution of Creation Club," which enables approved members to sell their content—which is of course where the upset begins.

To be clear, not all Creations are paid: "While everyone can upload free Creations, only admitted members of the Verified Creator Program may get content approved for sale and earn royalties on each Creation of theirs sold," the Creations FAQ states. 

Still, there is considerable unhappiness about the development, as some fans see the change as a shift toward the system Bethesda tried to roll out in 2015. A few commenters in this r/pcgaming thread argue that the "paid mods are back" angle is inaccurate because they've been around since the launch of Creation Club in 2017, but quite a few others say there's enough of a distinction to justify the anger.

"Creation Club content went through a Bethesda dev pipeline and was often developed by Bethesda themselves (and was also criticized on release and has been criticized every time a CC update broke the game)," redditor wertwert55 wrote. "This is opening the door for mod authors to just outright charge for mods after getting verified by Bethesda. Saying 'paid mods are back' in the sense that mass monetization of mods is again possible is completely accurate."

The pushback at this point isn't nearly as ferocious as it was in 2015. For one thing, Skyrim is a lot older than it was back then, and Bethesda is also easing into it much more gently. The announcement of the Creation Club in 2017 was contentious but the overall reaction was less negative because it was a genuinely improved program, and the amount of paid content for Skyrim was very limited: Only 74 Creation Club items were ever released, amidst a much greater flow of free mods. While this new program opens the door to more, Bethesda will presumably keep things on a leash—although how tightly it will hold that leash remains to be seen. 

More interesting, I think, is what happens in 2024 when Bethesda rolls out official mod tools for Starfield, which I expect will see a similar style of integration to the Creations program. Deep modding support could go a long way toward giving Starfield the depth it currently lacks, but there's also a real risk of blowback from fans if Bethesda leans too hard into charging for them.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks (Twitter))

The more immediate issue with today's update, though—and one that seems to have generated considerably more anger—is that it seems to have broken existing mods dependent on the Skyrim Script Extender. SKSE, as it's known, is a mod that expands Skyrim's scripting capabilities to enable other mods to do things far beyond standard Skyrim functionality. It's powerful and flexible, and a lot of major Skyrim mods rely on it to run—and the downside of that reliance is that when SKSE stops working, so does everything else.

The impact of today's Skyrim update can be seen in numerous Steam discussion threads, which is replete with titles like "Is there a way to roll back the update," "Shi-tty update 05/12/2023," "Bethesda, who asked?" and my favorite of the bunch, "Bethesda please stop updating Skyrim :(." There's also lots of advice kicking around about how to avoid installing the update, recommendations to re-buy the game on GOG (which does not include the Creation Club option), and for those bold enough to roll the dice, the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Downgrade Patcher on Nexus Mods.

The SKSE team reacted quickly and has already updated the Script Extender to work with the new patch, although some issues apparently still persist: SKSE users on the Nexus Mods forums have reported errors and crashes even after the latest update to the mod. But even after that's cleared up, it's not going to keep those who haven't been following along from experiencing an unpleasant surprise the next time they fire up the game and discover that the mods they installed in 2019 aren't working anymore. And there's the principle of the thing: Skyrim is complete, players are happy, and mods are doing the heavy lifting from here, so why is it necessary to keep messing with them?

Issues with mods notwithstanding, the new Skyrim Special Edition update is likely worth installing (as long as you update SKSE, if you use it): Along with the new Creations stuff, it also adds support for Steam Deck and ultrawide monitors. The full patch notes are below:


New Features

  • Mods and Creation Club menus have been combined into a unified Creations Menu.
  • Missing Creation check feature added to resolve missing Creations when loading a save file.
  • Store your Active Load Order and retrieve it from Bethesda.net
  • ESL Range has been doubled to 4096 records. Source scripts for Fishing, Rare Curios, Saints & Seducers and Survival are now provided as a Creator’s resource.
  • Resource Pack added to the game to assist Creators.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed crash that could occur when fighting Dwarven Ballista.
  • Fixed crash that could occur when transferring a large number of arrows to a follower.
  • Fixed issue preventing Kindred Judgement from starting if certain NPCs had died.
  • Fixed slowdown when running with a large number of Creations.
  • Fixed issue that could result in the world being underwater when fast traveling.
  • Fixed issue that would result in NPCs getting stuck in sit-and-stand loops when trying to use furniture.
  • Fixed control lock that can occur while eating a corpse with Namira’s Ring equipped while Survival Mode is active.
  • Fixed missing dirt for slot 1 on female faces.
  • Resolved issue preventing bartering with some hunters.
  • Fixed issue where Miraak sometimes does not appear while stealing Dragon Souls.
  • Arvak can now be summoned in the Forgotten Vale.
  • Vampire Cattle faces are no longer black in Volkihar Keep.
  • Fixed Soul Cain sky becoming corrupted after exiting Reaper’s Lair.
  • Restored cobblestones to the execution area of Helgen.
  • Fixed unlootable NPCs at “Cragslane Cavern.”
  • Fixed bad alpha properties on some Solitude assets.
  • Fixed bad alpha on Blades Armor and Blood Dragons.
  • Fixed bad weapon values on Glass Mace, Glass Warhammer, Honed Draugr War Axe, Ebony Mace and Ebony War Axe and most daggers.
  • Fixed some Orcish war Axes not using the correct model.
  • Fixed Ebony Shields being invisible when equipped on Vampires.
  • Banded Iron Armor of Restoration has had its value corrected.
  • Dwarven Scrap Metal can now be sold to Blacksmiths.
  • Honeycomb can now be sold to the appropriate vendors.
  • Removed errant collision marker west of Windhelm.
  • Fixed collision issues that could occur after lowering the drawbridge during The Battle for Whiterun
  • Fixed issue that sometimes presented the portals in the Forgotten Vale from playing their visual effects.
  • Fixed issue where portals in the Forgotten Vale would turn purple while opening.
  • Fixed bad geometry along columns in Vyrthur’s throne room.
  • Removed errant ‘Activate’ text on wheat windmills.
  • Blessing of Talos now properly shows a 20% reduction in the Active Effects menu instead of 0%.
  • Argonian Account, Book 2 now uses the correct world model.
  • Fixed kidnapped NPCs clipping cell door in Treva’s Watch.
  • Adjusted placement of iron ore vein that would result in the player’s camera colliding with a mammoth skull trap in Halted Stream Camp.
  • Fixed floating rocks on bridge under Solitude.
  • Fixed gap in terrain west of Embershard Mine.
  • Fixed hole in Wolfskull Cave.
  • Fixed hole in the Argonian Assembly.
  • Fixed gap in level in Nchuand-Zel Control Room.
  • Fixed flickering on floor in Largashbur.
  • Plugged gap in rocks near Lake Ilinalta.
  • Removed deprecated grass files from Miscellaneous archive.
  • Improved performance in Vyrthur’s throne room.
  • General performance improvements.
  • Various typo and localization fixes.
  • Alternative Armors - Ebony Plate
  • Localization fixes.
  • Alternative Armors - Elven Hunter
  • Localization fixes.
  • Alternative Armors – Orcish Scaled
  • Armor now is found under “Orcish” at the forge instead of Miscellaneous.
  • Alternative Armors – Leather
  • Updated quest description to more properly reflect the quest.
  • Alternative Armors – Silver
  • Localization fixes.
  • Alternative Armors – Steel Soldier
  • Aldepius no longer has a topic about the Moth Priest during the Prophet quest.
  • Bloodchill Manor
  • Extra Emerald Paragon holder replaced with missing Sapphire Paragon holder.
  • Bone Wolf
  • Fixed issue preventing Zombies from spawning in certain locations while Bone Wolves are present.
  • Fixed translation errors for wild encounters.
  • The Cause
  • Arvak can now be summoned in The Deadlands.
  • Plants in The Deadlands now respect the “Green Thumb” perk.
  • Fixed localization issues.
  • Civil War Champions
  • Fixed missing translations.
  • Fixed crashes that can occur after receiving associated armor.
  • The Contest
  • Fixed inability to temper Fists of Randagulf.
  • Dead Man’s Dread
  • Fixed missing leg meshes when “Captain’s Boots” were equipped.
  • Expanded Crossbow Pack
  • Fixed localization issues.
  • Fishing
  • “Caught in the Rain” quest description now properly describes Pygmy Sunfish.
  • Adjusted textures with Draugr Weapons to closer match the rest of the set.
  • Localization fixes.
  • Ghosts of the Tribunal
  • Prevented freeze that may occur when performing the Trueflame ritual too quickly.
  • Necromatic Grimoire
  • Players can no longer loot arrows used by the “Skeleton Marksman” summons.
  • Localization fixes.
  • Saints & Seducers
  • Plants in the Root Tunnels now respect the “Green Thumb” perk.
  • Fixed Madness Sword having too low a value.
  • Localization fixes.
  • Shadowrend
  • Player can no longer pickpocket items off of the Shadow.
  • Localization fixes.
  • Staff of Sheogorath
  • Localization fixes.
  • Sunder & Wraithguard
  • Localization fixes.
  • Survival Mode
  • Fixed issue where player could use magic infinitely while their magic was depleted.
  • Wild Horses
  • Localization fixes.

PC Only

  • FEATURE: Support for Ultrawide monitors (16:9, 16:10, 21x9, 32x9).
  • FEATURE: Support for Steam Deck.
  • FEATURE: Various console improvements.
  • CTRL+C now copies the selected Reference in the console.
  • CTRL+V now pastes text from your clipboard into the console.
  • “KAH” added to the console as a command to kill all hostiles.
  • “GetSelectedRefBase” added to the console as a command to return the base form ID for the selected reference.
  • Base form ID is now displayed alongside the selected reference ID.
  • “Help” command can now filter by form type.
  • FEATURE: “sStartingCell”, “sStartingCellX”, and “sStartingCellY” can be added to the General section of your SkyrimCustom.ini to autoload into the specified locations upon game start.
  • FEATURE: Macro support.
  • In your game directory you will find the new file: SkyrimConsoleDefault.ini. This contains the layout and new basic commands. This list may be customized by creating a new file in the same folder named SkyrimConsole.ini.
  • Resolved issue with screen shrinking after using Alt+Tab.
  • General stability improvements and optimizations.

Epic Only

  • Fixed issue preventing Xbox controllers from being recognized.

PlayStation Only

  • Resolved issue forcing the player’s camera to face north while exiting the Character Menu while on a horse.
  • Fixed button prompts sometimes being stuck on screen after loading a save.
  • Fixed flickering lights in the Ragged Flagon Cistern.
  • PS4: Fixed Options button icon.
  • PS5: Fixed misalignment with bullets in the quest list.

Xbox Only

  • General stability improvements (Morthal).

Creation Kit

  • Stability improvements.
  • New “Show Edited Forms Only” checkbox in the Object Window.
  • Data Menu now has “Modified Date” Column.
  • Plug-ins and Masterfiles can now be sorted by clicking any of the category names in the Data menu.
  • Titlebar now shows if your plug-in is ESL compliant based on last save.
  • Landscape borders now toggle between, visible, visible over all geometry, and off.
  • RoboVoice is now included, allowing you to easily add temp voice lines.
  • LipFuzer is now included, so you can generate game ready FUZ files.
  • LipGenerator has been updated to 64-bit.
  • Users can now browse to select existing voice files in file explorer straight from the Edit Response Window.
  • Creation Kit now warns if your plug-in is flagged as “Read Only”.
  • New Papyrus Functions
  • Function SetContainerAllowStolenItems(bool setAllowStolenItems) native
  • Sets whether to allow stolen items to appear in the menu (for Containers only).
  • int Function GetAllItemsCount() native
  • Gets the number of items in a container/inventory.
  • bool Function IsContainerEmpty() native
  • Returns if the container/inventory is empty.
  • Function RemoveAllStolenItems(ObjectReference akTransferTo = None) native
  • Removes all stolen items, transferring it to the other object if passed.
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.