Steam’s introduction of paid mods for Skyrim has divided the community, and follows on the back of a similarly controversial introduction of account limits based on purchases. While some are cautiously optimistic about the future of the paid modding initiative, others have taken to the Steam Workshop itself to air their grievances. JoeCow’s satirical take on matters is currently the most popular potential mod, with a twenty-five cent apple and $9.99 golden potato rounding out the top three.
Currently, Skyrim is the only game that supports this monetization. If you’ve only dipped your toes into Skyrim modding through Steam, you might be feeling particularly cheated by this announcement. We’ve hunted up some of the best free alternatives to the Steam Workshop for you below.
Skyrim Nexus is a popular subsection of the Nexus Mods website, and probably the largest source of Skyrim mods on the internet. The sheer amount of mods available on the website can make it hard to find quality work, but endorsement from groups like Skyrim G.E.M.S and S.T.E.P: Skyrim Total Enhancement Project will let you know you’re on the right track. Skyrim Nexus also includes an easy-to-use download manager that’s easy to learn for beginners. Beware, though: some popular modders are pulling or failing to update their work on Nexus in favor of selling it on Steam. Isoku, creator of the fantastic immersion mod Wet and Cold, has made a statement about his decision to charge for his mods on Skyrim Nexus.
TES Alliance is a long-standing Bethesda fansite with a focus on the Elder Scrolls games. It has a variety of user-rated mods as well as a dedicated section of subforums for those interested in lessons on learning how to create their own mods. The forums are both friendly and active, but TES Alliance places some limits on free users — most notably, a capped download speed.
SkyrimForge is part of a network of similar websites, operating under the umbrella of CurseForge. It has a streamlined layout and is designed to assist modders with project management. There are resources for self-directed learning about mod creation on the site. As a member of the Curse network, SkyrimForge utilizes the Curse client for managing downloaded mods. When searching for Skyrim mods on there, make sure to filter your search for released items only.
New to modding? Try Tesgeneral.
Tesgeneral is a part guide, part curated website from anonymous users on 4chan’s /vg/. It contains a selection of recommended mods on the Nexus, as well as a comprehensive rundown of mod management and organization programs. Any substantial modding you’re interested in doing will likely require you to step outside the managers. If you do nothing else, look at their Essentials guide. Tesgeneral is, of course, supplemented by ongoing 4chan threads where you can discuss modding in general. Just… don’t bring up The Elder Scrolls Online if you plan on having an actual conversation.
Did we miss something? Feel free to share your favorite Skyrim modding website, and we’ll do our best to include it in the article.