Starfield isn’t even officially out of early access yet, but one of its mods has already generated controversy within the community. The mod in question adds support for Nvidia’s DLSS 3 upscaling technology, which Bethesda omitted to include in Starfield in favor of AMD’s rival FSR 2. But users have been critical of modder PureDark’s decision to lock DLSS 3’s more advanced frame-generation features behind a subscription to their Patreon. The free version of the mod only supports DLSS 2, which offers upscaling but not frame generation.
Attempting to charge users for mods is a controversial topic, as Bethesda and Valve discovered when they teamed up to let modders charge for their Skyrim mods via Steam in 2015. The move was so controversial that Valve removed the feature just days later, with Valve’s Alden Kroll admitting that the company had “missed the mark pretty badly” with its decision to introduce the feature.
Particularly controversial has been PureDark’s decision to add DRM to the DLSS 3 Starfield mod in an attempt to prevent non-Patreon subscribers from getting access, though RockPaperShotgun reports that this copy-protection appears to have already been cracked. DLSS 3 is notable for offering frame-generation on newer 40-series Nvidia GPUs, adding additional frames in addition to upscaling the game to a higher resolution.
For what it’s worth, the non-paid DLSS 2 mod reportedly works well. RockPaperShotgun’s benchmarks show it matching or even slightly beating the performance of the game’s official AMD FSR 2 support, with slightly better image quality to boot. As of this writing, PureDarks’ “Starfield Upscaler” DLSS mod is the most popular release on NexusMods for Starfield.
PureDark has a history of modding support for DLSS into games that don’t officially offer Nvidia’s upscaling technology, and his NexusMods profile lists mods for previous Bethesda games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim. The modder previously added DRM to their DLSS 3 mod for Red Dead Redemption 2.
Although Starfield only officially supports AMD’s FSR 2 at launch, AMD has suggested that there’s nothing stopping the game from also supporting Nvidia’s DLSS. Despite AMD marketing itself as Starfield’s “exclusive PC partner,” its gaming chief Frank Azor has said that if Bethesda wants to add DLSS, then it’ll “have AMD’s full support.”