The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a fantasy role-playing video game created by Bethesda Game Studios. Players can change how the game appears or plays using a feature called Skyrim mods. SkyrimNexus.com was a website dedicated to Skyrim mods. The website also featured articles, forums, and interviews with some leading creators.

Try to find SkyrimNexus.com today, and the message you receive is clear: “This service is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.” Those who try again later will soon discover that the site is permanently unavailable. 

What could have happened to a website that once had more than 3 million members? In this article, we try to find out by following the site’s history, the services it provided, and its significant milestones.   

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The History of SkyrimNexus.com

SkyrimNexus.com was established in 2011 by Robin Scott. According to an archived page of SkyrimNexus.com, “Nexus sites are community driven websites that provide a platform for mod creators from specific off-the-shelf video games … to upload their work for other users to download and use within their respective games.”

Scott went by the nickname DarkOne. He calls himself an avid gamer whose interest in internet technology had “spurred [him] in to exploring web site design and development when, at the age of 14 [he] taught [himself] HTML, CSS and learnt primitive techniques in Photoshop.”

At the height of its popularity, Scott’s gaming network, Gaming Source, hosted more than 60 video gaming websites.

Doing Things Differently

If you followed Scott, you would soon discover that he is sometimes a brazen individual who likes to be in control and do things differently. He refused to ask for funding for his group of websites, including SkyrimNexus.com.

Kirk Hamilton, who writes for the Australian gaming news website Kotaku.com.au, quotes Scott saying, “I could make a business plan … and go to Silicon Valley, pitch the idea to a load of private and angel investors, secure (potentially hundreds of) thousands of dollars in investment money.”

But Scott would never make the trip to Silicon Valley. Why? Because making such a trip meant that he would “then become answerable to shareholders and investors who are looking for a return on their investment as fast as possible.” Scott adds, “To be frank, F’ that.”

In a brazen indication of his need to remain in control of his websites, Scott is quoted by Hamilton saying, “I’m the sole owner and sole decision maker of the sites. There’s no outside interest, board of directors, or investors pulling the strings behind the scenes. Similarly, no game developers have any influence or sway over me. The buck stops at me.”

However, refusing to ask for funding because you want the buck to stop with you has its disadvantages. For Scott, it meant “Working 18-hour days.”

The Business Model

If Scott was not going to accept funding from the big and small names in Silicon Valley, how did he sustain his business? “Nexus sites are maintained through advertising and voluntary donations made through a Premium Member scheme,” an archived About This Site page says.

The archived About This Site page adds, “Users of the site can pay for upgraded account features such as no advertising, faster download speeds, and download manager support.”

All sites on the website were available for all individuals, whether these people were willing to pay for premier membership or not. “Premium membership is to Nexus sites as 1st Class is to airplane journeys,” says the same About This Site page.

The Service

SkyrimNexus.com boasted of some impressive numbers. For instance, the website had over 9,300 downloadable files, 19 million downloads, and almost 90 million file views.

But what services were all the people who visited the website getting from it?

To get an idea of how the website was helpful to its users, you will need a bit of knowledge about how PC games work. Developers of games release a software development kit (SDK) with the games they sell. This makes it possible for gamers to modify the game by adding characters, pathways, tools, and other features they want.  

The modifications (mods) made to a game are stored in a file called a “plug-in” file that users can share.

Taking advantage of the growth of video game modding, SkyrimNexus.com provided “a middle-man platform for mod authors to publish their mods on the internet in an easy-to-use system that enables game users looking for modifications to download their mods.”

Apart from acting as “a middle-man platform,” SkyrimNexus.com provided a resource where users could become members of forums. In these forums, users could report bugs, provide feedback, rate authors, and post general comments.    

The Milestones and Challenges

Having managed to attract 3 million members within one year of its establishment, SkyrimNexus.com can be called a successful website.

On November 24, 2011, SkyrimNexus.com reached 1,000 mods available for download. To mark the occasion, the website announced, “So we’re just about 2 weeks in to Skyrim’s global launch and Skyrim Nexus has reached over 1,000 mods available for download, which is pretty damn impressive without an available SDK!”

Within the first year in operation, SkyrimNexus.com was scaling rapidly, with traffic volumes going through the roof. Even to Scott, the numbers came as a surprise. He writes on the website, “To say that I wasn’t really ready for the influx of traffic Skyrim Nexus received was a bit of an understatement, despite my 12 months of planning!”

Soon SkyrimNexus.com was receiving “more than 550,000 unique visitors a day (and some 4million+ page views a day). As anyone who has run a website would know, a new set of challenges pops up when traffic scales beyond expectations.

For SkyrimNexus.com, Scott wrote that “This traffic not only causes massive server load issues (and we’re using some real powerful servers) but bandwidth issues too.” Adding, “So if you’re wondering why the sites have been a bit slow at times, that’s why.”

What Then Happened to SkyrimNexus.com?

Sometime toward the end of January 2012, SkyrimNexus.com started redirecting to another website. We can’t find any information regarding the reason for the redirect. This redirect seems to have worked for several years until mid-year 2020 when it broke.