Starfield Modding Issues: PC Game Pass vs. Steam

Starfield, Bethesdas highly anticipated space RPG, is a major Xbox Game Pass title. PC Game Pass users face modding limitations due to UWP incompatibility with SFSE, impacting their experience.

Starfield, the highly anticipated space RPG from Bethesda, has made a significant impact even during its early access phase, breaking records and garnering immense attention. As a key addition to the Xbox Game Pass lineup, it marks Microsoft's first major release following its acquisition of Bethesda. Bethesda's decision to withdraw the best Game Pass deal just before the game's release demonstrated the company's confidence in Starfield's potential.

The game's exclusivity on Xbox Series X|S and PC has raised some concerns among PC gamers. Those playing Starfield through Xbox Game Pass or PC Game Pass Ultimate may find themselves missing out on a substantial part of the game's modding capabilities compared to purchasing it on Steam. This limitation became apparent when the game was introduced to Game Pass after its early access period.

Players utilizing PC Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are unable to access various mods in Starfield, a feature that was heavily promoted before the game's release. The issue stems from the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) version of Starfield distributed through the Microsoft Store and PC Game Pass, which lacks compatibility with the Starfield Script Extender (SFSE), an essential tool for modding in the game.

Ian Patterson, the creator of SFSE, confirmed this compatibility issue. Patterson has previously developed influential script extenders for games like Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Despite SFSE being in its early stages, several Starfield mods rely on it. This situation poses challenges for modding enthusiasts playing the game on PC unless they opt for the Steam version.

The core reason behind SFSE's incompatibility with the Xbox or PC Game Pass version of Starfield lies in the differences in UWP executable files compared to Steam. Additionally, integrating third-party software into UWP processes is complex and intentionally designed with security considerations in mind. It remains uncertain whether SFSE will ever support the PC Game Pass version of Starfield, and if it does, such a development is unlikely to occur in the near future.

While Starfield offers an array of features beyond modding, it's disappointing that such a high-profile game release falls short in this regard. Players interested in modding beyond simple asset packs, quests, factions, or gameplay mechanics may need to opt for the Steam version or prepare for potential disappointment.

In conclusion, Starfield's emergence as a major game release of the year, coupled with its inclusion in Xbox Game Pass, has generated significant excitement. However, the limitations on modding for PC Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate users, due to UWP incompatibility with SFSE, have left some players wanting more. The choice between purchasing the game on Steam for modding flexibility or enjoying other aspects of Starfield on the Game Pass platforms poses a dilemma for gamers. As the gaming community eagerly awaits potential solutions, it's clear that the impact of this issue on the Starfield experience will be a topic of ongoing discussion.

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