Steam Charging For Mods: For And Against

Would you pay 33p for this?

It used to be that the only way to make money from a mod was a) make a standalone sequel or remake b) use it as a portfolio to get hired by a studio or c) back in the pre-broadband days, shovel it onto a dodgy CD-ROM (and even then, it almost certainly wasn’t the devs who profited). As of last night, that changed. Mod-makers can now charge for their work, via Steam.

It’s far too soon to know the long-term outcome of Valve offering the option for mod creators to charge for their work, which went live yesterday using Skyrim as a test case. Everyone has an opinion, and I’ll try to cover the main angles below, but first I simply want to express simple sadness. Not fatalistic sadness – I’m genuinely curious as to how this will play out, and there’s high potential for excitement – but End Of An Era sadness.

Mods, free, fan-made modifications or extra content for existing games, have been a part of PC gaming for almost as long as there has been PC gaming. To think that this is changing, in that there may be less availability of free mods, and in that mod teams may now embark on their projects with a mind to earning a living from it rather than purely enthusiasm, is bittersweet. I do want people to be compensated for their work, and I do want people to be able to lay hands on more resources to make their endeavours – so often wilder than anything which would arise from an established studio – better still, as well as potentially receiving more co-operation from the original games’ developers. I don’t resist this change, but I am misty-eyed for the potential loss of what was. It was always delightful to gaze at all this weird, wonderful, usually broken fare, created from pure love and determination. Mods gave new, extended life and flair to games including Half-Life, Doom and Skyrim, mods lead to DayZ and Team Fortress, mods are as PC gaming as PC gaming gets. I salute them.

In all honesty, it’s highly unlike that free mods will go away, not least because it can be hard to make players blindly stump up for unknown quantities, but change is upon us. The gulf between hobbyist and professional is shrinking, and while that means more potential for projects to go off the rails, it also means more potential for new ideas and new voices to reach an audience. In all honesty, I don’t not strongly for or against this move, so don’t expect a tubthumping THIS IS WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN conclusion. I do want to look at some of the major arguments for and against this new age of paid mods, however.

FOR

Most of all, this is a motivation for people to make this stuff, to make it better, and to be compensated for it. Potentially, it also creates yet more routes into game development that don’t involved signing your life away to a big studio or publisher. Additionally, it removes even more barriers from making money from truly out-there stuff: without the same degree of risk as making a game from scratch, this can be the true test of If You Build It, They Will Come.

Someone with a wild idea, someone from a minority background or with an outsider perspective, no longer need necessarily make an entire game, and all the time and financial risk that entails, to put something out in the world. Don’t focus on uncomfortable ideas of someone becoming a millionaire from digital hat sales: creators being better able to afford to do something adventurous or elaborate is enormously meaningful here.

We can also look at this as long-overdue tribute to an ethos which has made PC gaming the vibrant, impossibly wide-ranging scene we have today. Without mods we wouldn’t have Team Fortress or Dota 2, DayZ or Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Heroes of the Storm or Natural Selection, Counter-Strike or Killing Floor, Dear Esther or League of Legends, Antichamber or Garry’s Mod, Red Orchestra or Stanley Parable. And that’s just the commercial stuff – factor in wonderful work which never went standalone or paid, such as Civ IV: Fall From Heaven, Action Half-Life, XCOM: The Long War, Action Quake 2, Complex for Homeworld 2, Game of Thrones for Crusader Kings 2, The Third Age for Medieval 2, Just Cause 2 multiplayer, the endless community patches for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines… There are so many others, and we should celebrate them below, but in any case – it only feels right to now be rewarding that scene, to encourage it to new heights.

Potentially, money means more updates, better support, more scope and scale, more longevity, more potential for mod teams to move onto bigger and better things. Something as simple as being able to hire an artist, writer or actor can make all the difference between so-so and fantastic, for instance. All that said, there are a great many mods which have been updated and improved for years based on nothing but dedication and goodwill. I don’t think it’s at all true to say there is a need to move to a payment model, but it may open more doors for more people.

It’s worth noting as we talk about money that, in the case of Skyrim, mod-makers will receive just a 25% revenue share of whatever they sell their creation for, so apart from in rare cases this is unlikely to be a path to riches. While there’s certainly an argument to be made that the teams who make this stuff are getting a raw deal out of this new scheme, at least hopefully it will prevent people getting into mods purely with money on their mind. The option to be free remains, naturally, plus Valve have added a particularly intriguing Pay What You Want system (which I have little doubt will later be expanded to full games, as an attempt to take on Humble), so we’re not at all looking at a paywall being erected around mod-town.

The 25% sum is proving contentious, inevitably. I don’t have a dog in this race myself, but what I do hope is that, whatever the norm ends up being, it leads to more publishers being more open about their games being modded. Many big games are effectively locked down, either because the work to include any sort of mod tools wasn’t considered worthwhile or – in the recent example of GTA V – concerns that the integrity of the intended experience would be undermined. (Another way of putting that is money-men worrying that some amateurish mod makes their company’s project look bad, or that a more popular mode would pull players out of an intended walled garden). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some individual developers were simply sniffily resistant to others changing their work. If putting money on the table means more games can have more mod support, for that reason alone I’m in comfortable with this move.

Related to this is other rights-holders permitting rather than cracking down on mods. What if all those copyright-ignoring boardgame adaptations released for Tabletop Simulator would be legalised, either by giving a cut to Fantasy Flight or whoever, or simply tempting Fantasy Flight or whoever (including indie boardgame designers) to release their own adaptations for it? What if SyFy or Lucasarts officially OKed the Battlestar and Star Wars mods that so many people cry out for, even if it came down to them taking every penny of profit? There’s a great deal of potential, but it’s potential both to crack open the hitherto unyielding shell of copyright and to outright fleece well-intentioned fans.

Which brings us onto some of the reasons this mightn’t be such a happy turn of events.

205 Comments

  1. subedii says:

    When events like this happen I feel as if I should take a hiatus from the internet for a while. Not because I’m for or against specifically, but because I don’t think it’s really possible to tell how things are going to pan out long term, and in the meantime everyone’s going to be getting some serious rage on.

    Could lead to better mods. Could lead to worse mods and walled gardens. Round 1: Fight!

    • waltC says:

      Reminds me of the other comment I wanted to make: modding is *a hobby.* People do it *for fun.* Yes, there is work involved but the obvious truth is that if mod developers didn’t *enjoy* doing that work there’d be no mods…;) Right? Rii-i-i-i-i-ight….;) Valve’s position that a modder “ought” to get paid might be true if (a) modders didn’t freely lend their time modding and saw it all as dreary work, and (b) if Valve wasn’t skulking around the corner with its hands out for 75% of the proceeds. OK, so because the modder “ought” to be paid, is it true that Valve “ought” to get 3x the income they pay the modder? I don’t think so. The minute modders start viewing mods as “life support” instead of “fun support” is the minute the mods really start to suck, imo…!

      Here’s another thing Valve overlooks: any modder can already ask for donations and many do ask for and get such donations without Valve and Bethesda collecting 75% of it. I wouldn’t wish to enter a contract with Valve over the IP ownership of my mods! Ugh. (Now if I was selling a complete, original *game* to Valve to market on Steam–that would be different–but I don’t think Valve gets 75% of the proceeds from Indy games–although I don’t know that for sure. So why does a Skyrim modder have to give up 75% to Valve & Bethesda? I doubt there will be many Skyrim mods that the Steam modders will ask to be paid for because of that, and many other reasons.)

      • pepperfez says:

        I wonder how long asking for (unshared) donations will remain acceptable to our IP overlords.

        • Baines says:

          Yes, publishers joining in on the Steam money train might see reason to launch new crack downs on free mods. After all, they now have a monetary incentive to promote paid mods and thus to discourage free alternatives.

          There are several ways that publishers can make this whole situation worse. (Others, for example, have already realized that publishers could end up with more incentives to simply not fix or finish games. After all, a healthy mod community will produce modders who will do that fixing and finishing themselves, without the publisher having to spend anything. Now, if those modders ask for money for their work, the publishers and Valve can step in and take most of that as well. Imagine how much Bethesda would have made if the various Skyrim UI fix mods had been paid mods.)

          • skittles says:

            Making a mountain where it doesn’t exist. This move does nothing to free mods. It simply allows modders who use Steam Workshop the option of charging if they want to. I see this as nothing but a good thing. As it will stop (or at least hinder) the strange grey market of ‘donations’. It does not force free mods to charge money, they can keep going as they do.

            In fact this has very real benefits. As it may convince publishers to open up their IPs a little more. If they see a potential revenue stream, they are more likely to integrate Workshop and mod tools to their games.

          • Arona Daal says:

            Hmmm, if i get 75 % from “attached” Mods,would it not be in my Interest to make free Mods as unattractive as possible ?

            Maybe even kill the free ones with legal or technical Options?

            Nah, nonsense.Forget it.

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            This whole situation looks so bad, the imposed restrictions are so toxic, I’m starting to have the impression the real Valve goal is to kill free, independent modding, and to make modding paid and Steam-only (and make even more games Steamworks and Steam-only in practice).

            “Embrace, extend, extinguish” in all its splendor…

          • Machinations says:

            I don’t have much to add, but I do think this article was limp; like, staking out sitting on the fence, like, forced neutrality. I come to RPS for intelligent, thoughtful analysis, not the regurgitated views of the big stakeholders, who are already rich enough to have a platform.

            Next time, interview the modders themselves, you know, the people Valve and Bethesda were looking to rent-seek from without even so much as a by your leave.

      • Hedgeclipper says:

        I’m predicting a flood of rubbish as everyone and their dog try to cash in, it’ll be like the mobile app stores – dozens of copycat mods, poor discoverability, generally awful quality and the occasional gem making its creator a millionaire to encourage new waves of hopefuls.

      • JimThePea says:

        Totally with you, it seems like Valve and Bethesda want to have their cake and be paid to have someone else to feed it to them.

      • Dave L. says:

        I wouldn’t wish to enter a contract with Valve over the IP ownership of my mods!

        You’re not entering a contract with Valve, you’re entering a contract with the original creators of the game that you’re modding. And it’s a contract with a hell of a lot better terms than you had when you were making your mods for free. Maybe read the EULA for the mod tools you’re using? From the Skyrim Creation kit:

        If You distribute or otherwise make available New Materials, You automatically grant to Bethesda Softworks the irrevocable, perpetual, royalty free, sublicensable right and license under all applicable copyrights and intellectual property rights laws to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, perform, display, distribute and otherwise exploit and/or dispose of the New Materials (or any part of the New Materials) in any way

        TL:DR version: Anything you make we own, and you get nothing.

        • Cederic says:

          The same terms that have cost Creative Assembly the loss of my business. I bought every Total War game right up until they added that clause to their EULA (although their wording didn’t restrict ‘new materials’ to ones relating to their game).

          If I create artwork then they don’t own it, even if I’m generous enough to let people that bought their game use it to improve the game experience. Trying to claim otherwise is asinine and I’d rather give my money to developers that embrace their community and work with it.

          • Dave L. says:

            That’s been a pretty standard part of mod tool EULAs for forever, though. This is in the DromEd EULA, for example: “When you publicly distribute your level you automatically grant Looking Glass Studios the perpetual, royalty free right to use, modify, license and distribute your level in any way we choose.”

          • Cederic says:

            The Total War EULA actually states that Sega get full ownership of the IP, including all commercial rights. It’s ludicrous.

            Maybe they’re trying to avoid DOTA type scenario where their game becomes the engine for something unfeasibly popular, but someone else signs the team and makes a killing out of DOTA2.

            My view is that Arma2 sold stupidly large numbers because DayZ was created, all of the Elder Scrolls games sell well due to mods, ETS2 got bought by me because of the mods, Mount & Blade Warband has been bought five times by me and four of those times distributed with the caveat “Install this mod pack after you’ve had 4-5 hours of the base game”.. mods sell games, why should the game creator get a cut of the mod? It could reasonably be the other way around.

      • CrashOberbreit says:

        Actually, from what I know Steam gets 5%. Usually, for games they get 30% as a share (which is pretty normal. I think GoG is taking 40%, but common for digital stores are 30%). And from what they said during the last devdays they said that they wanted to reduce their own Share in favour of the modders. At least that were the plans a year ago.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      In 2012, there was a thread on Nexus forums called :
      “Will Steam Workshop split the modding community?”
      link to forums.blind-mind.com

      Interesting how things turned out, isn’t it?

  2. Chalky says:

    Personally, I think this is OK. Market forces should ensure that mods charge reasonable prices for their quality, with only the best mods being able to require payment. The “Pay what you want” option will probably be the most common and that seems like a great idea.

    The fact is that if someone’s worked really hard on a mod and people are willing to pay for it, preventing them from doing so simply increases the chances of the mod getting abandoned due to the effort required to maintain it.

    The reality is it’ll probably be really hard to get someone to pay for a mod when a bunch of other mods will be available for free. Only the very best will be able to do it, an frankly, good for them.

    • Shadow says:

      Market forces might ensure reasonable prices, but if putting a price on your mod costs the author nothing up front, we might see hundreds of paid mediocre mods whose creators charge just because they can. They might not care about having a tiny audience as long as they get -some- income. And you can be sure there’s plenty of people on Steam with too much money, willing to spend it on anything: just look at all the people with extremely high account levels, obtained from buying scores of game cards just to nurture their e-peen.

      A “pay what you want” option, on the other hand, seems much more positive to me. The best mods will receive money from grateful players, and bad ones won’t likely get a dime. Look at Dwarf Fortress: the authors can live off of it fairly comfortably, and all thanks to voluntary donations for making such a smashing game.

      Let’s hope that’s the model which remains once the dust has settled. I’d hate the modding community to become a vast cesspit of micro-DLC.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        “we might see hundreds of paid mediocre mods whose creators charge just because they can”

        This wouldn’t last long under the current rules where to make any money, a modder has to sell at least for $400 first (is it per mod or per modder account?). And I doubt a mediocre mod could bring that much, even for an extremely popular game like Skyrim.

        • pepperfez says:

          But a hundred mediocre mods? A thousand? There doesn’t seem to be any incentive not to shit up the marketplace to try and catch stray pennies.

          • Horg says:

            Worst case scenario I think will be if people start to sell bug fixes.

            Hypothetical scenario: next Bethesda game comes out (or it may yet happen in Skyrim for all we know) and someone is legitimately the first to develop code to fix a common bug. It’s their work so they have distribution rights and can upload to the market place. Now does this stop other modders from making a free version of a patch to fix the same bug? If they have to make the same adjustment to the code then the original uploader could claim infringement if a free version appears. Whet happens if someone pirates the patch and puts out a free version on nexus-mods? Bethesda now have a conflict of interest on their hands. The modded patch is making them money so they have no incentive to actually fix the bug themselves, and a free version is undercutting that profit. Do they pursue a take down against the free mod and leave their game partially broken?

            Their was a time when Bobby ”literally Satan” Kotik was dreaming big of a day when he could sell patches. Valve might have just delivered a means to make that a reality.

          • Premium User Badge

            BlueTemplar says:

            Yeah, this reminds me of :
            “How I Went From $1,000 to $200,000 With Apps”
            “Step 1: Buy Low, Re-Skin, Repeat. Only Make Games.”
            link to bluecloudsolutions.com

    • IEatCereal says:

      Using Skyrim as a test subject is honestly a terrible idea. How many mods don’t use the tools/resources/libraries of other mods for compatibility let alone for content? Any complex mod for instance uses SKSE. What will the creators of SKSE get from the earnings and what if they say no they don’t want their libraries used commercially? Couple this with Valves’s “we want your money but can’t be bothered to police the ecosystem ourselves” approach and you have a problem. Many people have loads of mods installed on their computer. If an older mod/update of a mod doesn’t work with others then its fine. When you’ve paid for them and the mod maker is under no obligation to ensure compatibility then its a problem.

      • iniudan says:

        There is a simple answer to what you ask, it’s called license.

      • dangermouse76 says:

        Check out their response for SKSE.
        link to forums.bethsoft.com

        I’m in the wait and see how it pans out camp. It is going to be a mess and I think have not chosen the best method to roll this out.
        But you have a choice at the end of the day to pay for a mod or not. I do believe the market will level out the value and relevance of paid mods in time.

        Some people seem to have the fear that this will spread and soon all mods will be behind paywalls and that it will be the end of PC gaming and modding in general. Which is……well honestly I don’t know what to say to that.

        I do think mod makers should try to make money if they want. I don’t think that is inherently wrong or anti community either. Honestly I have been happily using Nexus and workshop for a long time with no sense of this apparent community of people who are so incensed by the idea of individuals charging for their work.

        • Shadow says:

          My concern regarding “mod makers should try to make money if they want” is that the Steam cashcows I mentioned earlier might make even mediocre mods mildly profitable. If that happens, everything remotely playable will likely have a pricetag.

        • Baines says:

          The “Final Thoughts” section of that response has a somewhat worrying bit itself.

          While they say that they weren’t against people being able to get money for mods made with SKSE, they also point out that “Trying to prevent paid mods from happening would be more likely to get the Script Extenders banned than successfully preventing paid mods.

          • dangermouse76 says:

            That seems to be an ongoing issue doesn’t it. Modding existing under the thin veil of acceptance until they decide to pounce.
            Interesting times.

          • behippo says:

            Let me clarify the “Final Thoughts” section of my post. SKSE exists is a pretty grey area of the modding world. To create the script extenders we have to circumvent DRM and reverse engineer the application. Technically this violates the EULA for both Skyrim and the Creation Kit. Bethesda basically ignores this fact and lets us continue on because they like what we provide for the modding community. But if they decided to get lawyered up over it they could shut down all of the script extenders with ease and probably get our steam accounts locked.

            We like our current situation where we can do what we do with the tacit, unofficial approval of Bethesda. It allows a ton of cool mods to be created – which is our goal.

          • dangermouse76 says:

            @Behippo
            Do you think the move to allow some paid mods is an indication that Bethesda’s attitude to this grey area is shifting some what ? Shifting to a more enclosed modding arena ?
            Personally I don’t, but I see people are worried about that.

          • behippo says:

            @dangermouse76 wrote:
            @Behippo
            Do you think the move to allow some paid mods is an indication that Bethesda’s attitude to this grey area is shifting some what ? Shifting to a more enclosed modding arena ?
            Personally I don’t, but I see people are worried about that.
            ——–
            I am not sure what BGS’ plans might be for future games. If anything they are becoming much more accepting of our little grey area. There devs have always been supportive of the Script Extenders. That support may be growing in other groups there as well. They and Valve are helping us get SKSE into the Workshop which will make it much easier on folks to install and keep up to date – and may even convince folks who have been skeptical of the Script Extenders in the past to give them a try. I am hoping that continues with future games as well – which would be awesome.

            As to whether they are looking for a more closed community? I don’t think so. I honestly think they are trying to make it so modders can earn some money and in turn create better mods which is good for everyone. I am not sure that they way they are going about it is the best way – witness the uproar about paid mods. But my opinion is that their motives are not quite as mercenary as some make them out to be.

            In either case SKSE isn’t terribly affected by this. The tool will remain free and available for everyone and hopefully we’ll see even more good tools and mods built on top of it.

        • Kitsunin says:

          The issue I see, to go into more depth than the person above, is that…

          I paid $30 for Skyrim, then $25 dollars for expansions. I got things on sale, cheaper than usual because that fits my budget. I have over a hundred mods installed, because I’m the sort of person who puts a lot of work in because he wants everything to be perfect, and new and interesting things to be around every corner. Well, what if my overhaul mod started charging $5? Okay, well it’s worth that, it makes the combat feel excellent. Now my character model mods are charging $1 each. Well there are hundreds of models in total so $10 for ten mods is totally reasonable. Now my house and location mods are charging $1 each. I love the new and otherwise improved places, and god knows it’s worth that. My ENB charges $10 now. Well, it makes everything so much prettier, of course it’s worth that.

          But wait a minute, I could already be paying well over $100 dollars, and while every mod is absolutely worth the price being asked, that is just so, so far beyond my price range, and when it already takes quite a bit of work just to make the mods play nice with each other, I’m probably just going to play some other game which won’t empty my wallet, because I don’t want to play a game which I know is limited for arbitrary and stupid reasons like I haven’t paid enough.

          • farrier says:

            This is exactly my problem too. I have no issue with modders wanting to get paid for their output, which can often be great. I think if they put effort into something and think there’s a market there, why not, good for them.

            But the flipside is that rather than pay I’ll probably just stop using mods. I already almost never buy DLC (I think Skyrim and Paradox’s Grand Strat games are the only one, not counting “GOTY” versions and the like), so for me personally, I’m just not going to pay extra money to play a game.

            I really do hope modders can make some sort of compensation, not being disingenuous. I just don’t care enough about mods to pay rather than lose them. I’ll just do something else. Shrug.

          • Coming Second says:

            Micro-transactions in a nutshell. That’s why big studios love them so much.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Skyrim as a test subject? Then what the hell was TF2? People have been making mods and getting paid for it for more than a year…

        • IEatCereal says:

          To answer your question: Who owns Team Fortress 2? Valve. What can you make in team fortress 2: Mostly cosmetic stuff. This scenario is a bit different because there’s more complexity on the issue. Do I care I there are thousands of reskins or hats? No not at all

          • hawken.grey says:

            Are you serious? Have you really seen what’s available in terms of paid mods for TF2 and/or do you have any idea how many people play that game? That modding scene is HUGE.

  3. Zenicetus says:

    I hope this doesn’t stick. Mainly because most of the mods I’ve enjoyed over the years have been collaborative projects — either an actual team working together, or “kit built” mods assembled with the work of others by permission. Money entering the picture, is the very best way to fracture a volunteer modding team.

    I’m guessing this won’t last, mainly due to the inevitable copyright and trademark violations. There is very little policing of that when it’s a free mod, but will suddenly draw attention if there’s any money to be made. Especially since Valve is taking the majority of the proceeds, so they’re automatically a deep-pockets target for the IP lawyers. I can’t see Valve wanting to do all the vetting that would be required, for so many games out there, if it went much beyond Skyrim.

    • mutanteggs says:

      The money is split between Valve as Bethesda, actually. It’s not clear what that split is, though.

      • Baines says:

        Another site reported that upon asking Valve, Valve replied that it took its standard microtransaction cut. Of course we don’t know what the standard microtransaction cut is either. But I doubt that it is much higher than their standard game cut. Of course we don’t officially know their standard game cut, but everyone seems to assume that it is 30%. So a75% split would send the bulk of the money to the publisher, maybe a bit less than a third to Valve, and a quarter to the modders that did all the actual work. If Valve is actually taking less than 30%, then that just means more money for the publisher.

  4. mutanteggs says:

    My issue with this is highlighted in a video by Valve News Network: Freely available mods are switching to paid mods. Many of the mods that are turning to paid are things I’d never want to spend money on. Something like Skywind, or some other large campaign like that? I’ll pay 7 bucks for that. Some shitty sword that you modeled after an anime, or another game? I don’t want to spend a single cent, let alone 1 U.S. dollar. It changes people’s perceptions, gives them a minimum value they have to be. And then you have the people who jump on this cash cow bandwagon to make a quick buck. It just feels wrong. I’d gladly donate 100% to the mod maker, but paying through steam and giving 75% to Valvthesda? No.

    • Chalky says:

      I don’t understand why it would be a problem for a shitty mod to try to charge people. Nobody would pay for it, so the mod maker would stop charging. So why does that matter?

      Giving money to the people who put in 90-95% of the work to make the mod possible by releasing their game in a modable format is also pretty reasonable. If someone wants 100% of the money they can make 100% of the game, if they’re making a mod for free now they’re not doing it for the money so a bit of extra cash is a bonus plus game companies are encouraged to make their games as moddable as possible. It seems like wins all round.

      • P.Funk says:

        “So why does that matter?”

        Because it pollutes the atmosphere of the mod community. I’ve always felt like mods in gaming is like the friend side of it. The commercial end is the game release and DLC and the online component with their stats and shit. The friend side is the mod community. People working together to better the game, building communities around a shared interest and project.

        What do they always say about including money issues with friendship? Fuck that. But hey, this is the Western world. Making money is gospel and to argue against it is sin.

  5. Guy Montag says:

    I’m not okay with how Valve sprang this, but I’m fully in support of modders being able to support themselves for the work they do. The 25% cut is the most ridiculous part of this whole thing, however. Valve or Bethesda shouldn’t be entitled to a cut (beyond perhaps a pittance for hosting) at all. Bethesda games (on PC) in particular have been built on the backs of the modders, and their efforts drive sales hard. For the big guys in this to think they deserve a cut at all is backwards and a disservice to their key supporters.

    • Tacroy says:

      Since Bethesda is the copyright owner, they get to charge whatever they want – and I’m sure the lion’s share of that 75% is going to Maryland.

      • Cederic says:

        I’m curious, how is it that (other than asinine EULA) Bethesda are copyright owners?

        They created the artwork in Skyrim, they didn’t design, model, draw or implement the suit of armour I added to it.

        If that armour is something I add to every moddable RPG I play, from Mount & Blade to Dragon Age to Divinity, it’s clearly not even a derivative work.

        So why should they pick up 45% of the sales of that piece of armour on the Steam store? It has fuck all to do with them, other than making their game more attractive to people that might want to play it.

        (note: I haven’t created such a mod. I don’t even own Skyrim. I just dislike the “all your creative works are belong to us” bullshit)

        • Michael Anson says:

          That’s how manufacturing works. You pay for the engine that your car is designed around, or that your game is designed around, or that your mod is designed around. If you don’t like the terms offered for use of the engine, find a different one to profit off of. You need to rent the gallery that your paintings appear in; you need to pay the fees to the publisher to get your book in print; you need to share the profits with Bethesda to use their game. They put in the work before you did.

    • Clavus says:

      I’ve seen Dean Hall rant about the 25/75 cut on Twitter and he hits the nail dead on: people have INSANE beliefs about how much money developers get in the publisher/developer model. Especially in licensed games.

      From a value perspective that 25% for the content creator is a GOOD deal. Valve takes around 30%, which is their standard cut for content they host (cost of the Steam platform, sales handling, world-wide marketing and distribution), and the other 45% for the game developer (creation and maintenance of the IP, mod tools, game universe, and last but not least, building your whole potential customer base (the community)). All the time and money that went into these systems need to be repaid. Your content might be what’s advertised but there’s a back-end to be supported.

      And it’s not like this is the only way to support mod devs. They can just set up a Patreon and keep releasing shit for free if they want.

      • Guy Montag says:

        And I’m saying that should change. Not particularly insane. A few years ago a move like this was unheard of, yesterday a 25% cut was unheard of. Next take the logical step of understanding that your cut came when you did the work, their cut comes when they do the work. This is a morass to be waded through, for sure, and there’s complexities within complexities as to who owns what (especially within such an interconnected community as that which Valve has just imposed itself), but the work is the work. 25% isn’t enough. Maybe 99% is too much, I accept that I don’t know the end game of these developments, but I know 25% isn’t the cut these content creators deserve.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Problem is that the publisher and developer have a business relationship, the publisher and modder do not. The publisher offers no services to the modder, unlike Valve would (hosting). So, the publisher isn’t entitled to anything as such. Maybe the developers deserve a small cut for making modding possible.

        It’s also worth considering that the publisher and developer already get their cut when the game is sold – that was their work, they got paid. Why should they get paid for someone else’s work? This is almost like taxation – except in this case, the tax isn’t going to be used for the taxpayer’s benefit.

    • JimThePea says:

      I’ve been wondering if there’s anything stopping me messaging a mod creator and offering them 3 times their cut if they send me the mod, basically cutting Valve and Bethesda out of the deal.

      • Premium User Badge

        BlueTemplar says:

        Steam-Workshop-Only Mods with DRM and publisher-written EULA’s preventing modders to distribute their mods outside of Steam Workshop if they want to use it?
        Seems far-fetched, but remember that a few years ago PC gamers swore they would never use an online service like Steam that would force them to register into it to buy, and sometimes to even play games.

  6. vorador says:

    As it stands, is a mess. One of the highlighted mods (Art of the Catch) as been taken down under accusations of stealing code from other modder.

    It needs curation. It needs a team that oversees submitted mods and ensures they don’t rip other mods, and that they work as intended. Right now, is as bad as if all games submitted for Greenlight would directly be released without review.

    • Horg says:

      The main modder behind Art of the Catch has posted a letter on Reddit detailing some of the known and unknown factoids around the take down, and how badly his experience with the mod market has gone:

      link to reddit.com

      The poor guy has basically lost the rights to his work for participating in this fiasco, been lied to by valve and Bethesda regarding his legal standing, and may give up modding entirely as a result. If he tries to distribute his work for free at this point, he may face legal challenges from the corporations as they now have a profit interest in his work. Hopefully other modders will learn from this disaster and avoid the marketplace entirely.

      • Person of Interest says:

        Thanks for the link. Perhaps it was a bad idea to introduce paid mods for a pre-existing game: maybe it should have been limited to new games?

        I haven’t seen licenses accompanying most game mods. In (web) software development, it’s pretty simple: if the software you want to use/extend/modify doesn’t have a license granting you that right, you don’t do it. A lot of photographers use Creative Commons licenses to make their intent clear too. Until modders make widespread use of standard licenses (which they often couldn’t do since mods themselves were unlicensed by the game publisher), I expect many more of these situations.

  7. ThatFuzzyTiger says:

    In its’ current iteration? It needs to die a death, and fast. And needs to be replaced with a donate button next to the download button. Right now the “pay what you want” button is still a pay button and therefore still paywalls mods, for people who use a heavy number of mods this could lead to Skyrim costing close to 200-300 dollars (or more) simply to make moddable.

    That’s sort of insane when you consider the implications, particularly when a lot of the mods are dependent on free mods like SKSE (unfortunately SKSE isn’t going to poison the well by GPL’ing their code, more’s the pity, that would have been sufficient to break the entire process at the knee), but nonetheless, then consider that 75% of that is going to Beth and Valve.

    No, no thank you.

    • LexW1 says:

      Precisely. I’m okay if mod authors want to charge – they could always theoretically have done it.

      But this is a horrible shitshow.

      If they wanted people to be actually charging, they should be enforcing much higher standards, or having a much longer trial period (it’s 24 hours – given you probably play the game 1-2 hours in the time, it’s very likely you will miss killer bugs/flaws), and they should have forced a clean break between old mods and new, making it so every mod in here had to be something actually new. Instead we’re seeing mods put into this which were previously free, and the free versions removed or given ads or similarly idiotic things done (Midas Magic for example now has pop-ups for god’s sake, if you use the free version).

      They should also dedicate a lot more effort to ensuring quality and making sure theft doesn’t happen, instead of just ruthlessly suppressing satire, which is what they’re doing right now.

      They should also, if they were going to have “pay what you want”, have had “pay what you want”, instead the literal lie they have there right now – the actual minimum is 0.25 or 0.99 dollars depending on the mod, so no, it’s not “pay what you want”. That really is a straightforward lie.

      It’s really sad, because this could have been win/win, but they turned it into lose/lose.

  8. Jayblanc says:

    Speaking as someone who is a writer, knows writers, talks buisness with writers… 25% is a luxury almost fantasy share of the Gross. 25% of the Gross for anything is unknown of for anyone in Hollywood for instance, let alone for novel writing, or any other creative profession working as part of a multi-person production. Complaining about 25% of the Gross for releasing something that is primarily based on the work of others seems… Like exactly what I guess I should expect from the “Gamer” community.

    • Horg says:

      The traditional publishing industry being extremely greedy does not make it right for the gaming publishing industry to be slightly less greedy.

      • All is Well says:

        I was thinking something like this. I will eagerly (almost overly so) agree that I know nothing of these sorts of deals and how revenue from creative works is distributed generally, but is “this deal is better than average” really an argument against “this is a bad deal”? To oversimplify: if Amazon gives you 12p per sold work, is it a good deal for someone else to get 25p? Or are there perhaps realities to selling creative works such that make any revenue distribution in the favour of the creator is impossible?

        • LexW1 says:

          No there aren’t realities like that.

          If you sell a game, you get 70%, on Steam.

          Which is shit, and you get a lot more on other platforms, but there it is. That’s actually a decent deal given Steam’s reach and so on. 25% though? No. It doesn’t really matter how it’s split between Valve and Bethesda, either way, they are, at this point, doing essentially nothing (there’s no real advertising for mods in the way there is with games, for example), and just expecting to get 75% of the profits.

          It’s not like with a book where they’re physically printing it, putting in stores, had it edited and so on. Even then, 25% isn’t actually a fantasy for authors – just publish online via Amazon or whatever, and you won’t get 100%, but you’ll get a hell of a lot more than 25%.

        • Greg Wild says:

          This is going a bit OT. And I should use the disclaimer “I work for a traditional book publisher”.

          In my game, the main reason dead-tree publishers have “low” % royalty rates is honestly because that percentage probably reflects a good half of the profit made on a book. You might have 10% on every copy, but its likely that your publisher is making that much profit too. Decent books are not cheap investments.

          I’m not sure how that translates to game publishing, and as I gather it, royalties are hard to come by. 25% isn’t a terrible rate. Though I suspect the business cost that Bethesda is making is somewhere around nil, while Valve have probably invested quite a lot of man-hours into this project.

          50:50 sounds more fair to me.

    • subedii says:

      Not that I disagree with the overall sentiment but.

      Complaining about 25% of the Gross for releasing something that is primarily based on the work of others seems… Like exactly what I guess I should expect from the “Gamer” community.

      You’re uh… making comments on a hardcore PC gaming site dude.

    • badmothergamer says:

      Per Dean Hall (DayZ creator): “RE: Paid modding. Any double digit percentage on REVENUE for a derivative work with supplied tools is an excellent deal commercially and far more than I expected/received for DayZ. People need to think about VALUE and not EMOTION when thinking of business”

      • Joshua Northey says:

        A large percentage of people who comment here and gamers in general are just totally ignorant of how the real world and actual business works. 25% is a huge share considering they did not make the game, make the modding tools, make steam, create the steam marketplace. But why be realistic when you can just scream greed like a 14 year old who has never had a job?

        • IEatCereal says:

          Consider then that not so long ago Bethesday would have said no to paid modding of their product, but now thanks to Valve are saying, “Sure you can make money, but we’ll control where you sell it and how much you make form it. Oh and we’re also not going to bother to police it properly, you guys can do that yourself.”
          Sure does sound like greed from that perspective. They’ll provide the market and the servers, but we’ll do the other work for them. Thanks Valve :D

        • silentdan says:

          25% is a huge share considering they did not make the game, make the modding tools, make steam, create the steam marketplace.

          Unreal Engine lets you keep 95% of your revenue, even though you didn’t make the Unreal Engine. Steam lets you keep 70% of your revenue, even though you didn’t make Steam. I’m not saying 25% is necessarily unacceptable, but to call 25 a “huge” number, compared to 70 or 95, well … I have to wonder if your frame of reference is an unfair situation. Like, if you’re legitimately entitled to a 50% cut of something, but you’re told you’ll accept just 10% or the project gets cancelled, 15% will seem “huge” to you, but someone accustomed to fairer environments will see it as “tiny.”

          I think Valve and Bethesda should each get their cut, but if I were making a mod under this system, I’d leave it free. Between handing over 75% of the value of my product to someone else, and enriching a game I love for the benefit of the entire community, I’d chose the latter. Let me keep 50%, and the calculus may change.

          • Jayblanc says:

            Let’s do the maths on this. The engine maker takes the first 5% of the gross. Steam takes 30% of the 95% you’re left with. Then the Artist who made all those art assets want a slice, and so does the programmer who wrote the original AI and game logic you’re using, they agree to take a third each, and leave you with a third because that’s fair. You end up with a little under 22.2% of the gross.

            25% of the gross still looks like a great deal to me.

          • Horg says:

            Why would any of the professional developers deserve a portion of a derivative work when they are paid a salary to produce the tools in the first place? That’s their pay out, modders don’t get a salary.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Well there’s another option for Skyrim modders then. They can take their work to the Unreal Engine and keep 95% of it. Only catch is they have to do all the writing, code basically the whole game, and produce all of the art assets, create all the mod tools, etc. etc.

            If modders don’t like the 25% deal, then it’s up to them to find a better deal. The Unreal Engine is a much worse deal really, because 95% of the work isn’t already done for you.

        • LexW1 says:

          As someone who has had a job quite possibly longer than you’ve been alive (the ones who say stuff like you always seem to be around 21), that’s bollocks, frankly.

          If it wasn’t for modders, Skyrim wouldn’t have moved half the copies it did on PC. I mean that literally. Not even half of the PC copies. So suggesting they are worth so little isn’t really endearing Bethesda to anyone who bought Skyrim and enjoys mods.

          It’s also already causing a problem – because modders make so little, they’re pricing up mods to fairly extreme levels given the amount of work involved, which means those mods are in turn less likely to sell, whilst generally pushing up prices across the market because everyone is subject to this. Experience of other online markets suggests people will happily collude to ensure prices remain high, rather than competition kicking in, too.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            Um I am in my mid thirties, and Skyrim was a huge hit before a single mod was released. Stop being disingenuous, even you cannot believe that argument.

    • trooperwally says:

      You’re ignoring margins. Traditional book publishing has rubbish margins and films not better for the most part (the big hits are outliers, most films barely break even). Software is different because marginal cost is effectively nil (when you have digital distribution) so percentages of gross revenue aren’t really comparable across different media like this.

      I think this is one to be assessed on its own terms on the basis of both economics and fairness.

      • Jayblanc says:

        If you think that Video Games development is a high margin money printing machine, then you must have been ignoring a ton of article here about studio closures, kick-starter failures when developer ran out of money to keep the lights on, lay-offs and cancelations.

        • Horg says:

          Bethesda are comfortably in profit.

          • Reefpirate says:

            So?

          • Horg says:

            That’s how you get blocked around here. No shitposting.

          • Reefpirate says:

            Who’s shit posting, me or you? Or does ‘Bethesda makes profits’ constitute a complete and coherent thought in this discussion?

            Of course they make profits… What is your point? Is that better?

            They make plenty of profits after years and years of taking huge risks with huge capital. The same goes for Valve. All of their investment and all of the risks they have taken over the years to now arrive at a place where modders can come along and profit off of their infrastructure, and they’re expected to take a small cut, or a zero cut if you listen to some folks around here. It’s a ridiculous idea and at least a little naive.

            Even if it were true that Valve and Bethesda basically have to do ‘nothing’ to publish these mods, they absolutely have the right to take whatever cut they want to offer people. It’s what you earn after successfully risking millions of dollars. Modders can go find another marketplace in which to sell their wares if they want to get paid.

            Now whether it’s a good idea to try and cram what was basically a free-for-all ecosystem into this shoddy Steam Workshop edifice is questionable… But there’s no way I’m going to get outraged at Valve or Bethesda wanting to take 75% of the action. It’s a good deal as far as I can tell.

        • trooperwally says:

          Ok, time for more precise language. Video games (and software generally) has very low marginal cost and very high contribution per unit. The reason for both is that there are minimal costs in producing the next copy of the game unlike books (which have to be printed and moved to a shop).

          Your comment about ignoring news of layoffs rather misses the mark in afraid. Going Out of business doesn’t, of itself, tell you anything about the margins. Going out of business happens when a company can’t pay its bills. That can happen to high margin businesses (eg banks) or low margin businesses (eg social housing providers). In both cases it’s a result of not having enough cash. The cash shortage could be caused by any number of things but low margins do not need to cause a cash shortage in a well managed business.

          Slightly off topic but I didn’t want the discussion about what is a fair share to be confused by a misunderstanding of what a margin is and how it differs by industry.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      Writing a play or movie script just… isn’t that similar to making a mod. Selling a novel or a movie involves large distribution and advertising costs, and where it doesn’t (youtube movies, e-books) the content creators usually do take home a pretty good chunk of the gross income. Bethesda monetizing Skyrim mods is like Disney monetizing Star Wars fanfiction- as long as you give Disney 75%, and your fanfiction meets whatever standards they set, you can sell it.

      Which doesn’t sound that bad. But the best mods are often the work of many different authors with different levels of involvement, and now they have to figure out whether they want to sell it, and how to share the profit. I think in the long term monetized mods might be fantastic- but in the short term, the old system that has produced a lot of wonderful mods is likely broken. I can understand why people are upset.

      • Jayblanc says:

        I’ve talked to Diane Duane in the past about exactly that. Well, not Star Wars, but Star Trek. She would have loved to get anything close to 25% of the gross on her Star Trek licensed novels.

        And yes, making a mod is pretty much like taking most of your footage from an already made movie, borrowing all the equipment and tools from the makers of the original movie, and then having it all automatically integrated with the home DVDs of that movie… Mods are not sole-creative projects, they’re based on the work of the original game developers. Even if every asset is made from scratch, which is very rare, they’re still running on someone else’s game engine, AI and game-logic.

        • waltC says:

          Game makers include modding tools because *they want* people to mod their games. Why? Because it’s the games that are the most amenable to modding that sell the best. IE, it already *pays* the game developers and publishers to include modding tools in their games–pays them in sharply increased sales of their games. Skyrim without mods is a pale shadow of Skyrim with mods. Etc. If I couldn’t heavily mod Skyrim I doubt I would want the game, frankly. So the game developers have already been paid for inclusion of their modding tools, and there isn’t one of them that doesn’t know it. Likewise, the reason Steam introduced mods–free mods I might add–was to stimulate sales of the games in its library that provide modding tools, and to elicit more interest in Steam. So Valve, too, already reaps the benefits of the free mods it hosts (of course.)

          There is simply no reason at all that Valve & Bethesda should get 75% but the creator of the mod–which is what is being sold, never forget–gets a measly 25% of the proceeds. My position is that Valve and Bethesda (or Valve and any other popular, modded game publisher) have already received their just due in terms of more robust game sales. So, that is why I think this is a bad idea–it sets a terrible precedent for the future.

          I predict that what’s going to happen is the mods that Valve sets a price for will flop; and Valve will develop a bad name as a source for mods if it already doesn’t have one (I can’t stand the Workshop’s insistence on upgrading my mods every time I fire up a Steam game with Workshop mods installed! Horrible. I don’t use it for that reason.) Sites that continue to provide terrific, strong support for mods to all comers, like Nexus and Moddb–although these days I find the Nexus my mainstay for Mods–will continue to flourish, and if anything may actually grow faster as a result of Valve doing this. However, I don’t really see this lasting very long at Valve–the backlash from both consumers and modders is apt to be vigorous.

          • LexW1 says:

            Yeah, Bethesda and Valve seem to be completely missing here is that people bought Skyrim in order to use mods, but not in order to pay for mods (esp. given many mods are of exceptionally low quality and it is not always immediately obvious).

            I’m personally already feeling disinclined to buy TESVI given this idiocy. No doubt most mods for that will be paid from day 1 – especially on day 1, as people attempt to capitalize on the lack of mods, and they’ll be shit as well as costing money, and I will know that if I do buy any, and they’re shit, Bethesda are the main beneficiaries of that shit-ness.

            So I rightfully blame them.

            I really don’t think they get it. This whole launch stinks of a bunch of male backslapping Techbro-Nerds (the worst kind!) working on this with zero thought for the consequences and just a ton of buzzwords and how awesome it will be and so on. They’re probably deeply puzzled that anyone doesn’t love it, because they live in a little Valve bubble and have no idea about how actual people react to things. It’s hard to see why it was launched in this shitty state and yet with so many mods on it and so on, otherwise.

        • Timbrelaine says:

          The difference I pointed out, which you didn’t address, is in the advertising and distribution costs. If the modders are getting 25% of gross and Diane Duane isn’t, it is because a licensed novel needs to be printed, driven around the country, given shelf space, and often advertised. Many will need to be thrown out when they don’t sell, and there is a considerable risk that most of them won’t sell and the publishers, stores etc. will actually lose money. By comparison a mod has almost no costs after it has been developed, and the ‘gross’ isn’t that different from ‘profit’.

    • P.Funk says:

      Here’s the problem Jay. Thats a proportional relationship based on a business that involves a huge amount of overhead and which is largely also based on an industry that works in the physical world. The cost of printing, editing, marketing, management, legal fees for lawyers just to do the business shit that needs lawyers, etc.

      Now you move into the digital sphere and ask yourself where are all these costs? Valve is already a monster and offering a free mod service off a server. The mods sell the game for Bethesda. Why do they deserve 75%? Because some asshole bare knuckle capitalist a century and a half ago was bilking authors out of the lion’s share of the revenue and that stuck?

      The digital landscape, especially one where Valve seems to neglect to hire people to pay attention to their pet projects, does not agree with the traditional analysis. Lets get past all this costs BS and say they want 75% because they think they can take it and this is a profiteering venture.

    • DeadlyAccurate says:

      It costs a publisher approximately $30,000 to get a debut novel from contract-to-print, accounting for the advance, editing, marketing, layout, printing, etc. That’s money they risk upfront, with no guarantee they’ll receive anything in return. That’s why a book deal’s royalty rate is about 10%. Plus, print deals tend to offer an advance. Is Bethesda going to give the mod maker $5000 upfront?

    • SuicideKing says:

      Care to draw an actual parallel to any other industry, rather than act all snooty?

      Can you, for example, explain how modders are related to a publisher in business terms (when distributing work for free, when independently asking for donations and under this Valve system)? What services does the publisher provide the modder in exchange for the income, like they do to the developers? Valve hosts the mods on their servers, thus deserves *some* cut. The developer may support modding (tools, etc.), so deserves *some* cut. Where does the publisher come in? What is this publisher publishing (w.r.t modders)?

      • Baines says:

        Well, with Steam’s paid mods, modding has gained the book publishing and film industry’s lawyer-heavy license-heavy bloated bureaucracy with a vested interest in making sure its parts get as much as possible while content creators get exploited

  9. popej says:

    How long before pre purchased mods and mod DLC….

    • Guzzleguts says:

      How long before mod pirating?

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      It’s already been done for a long time, at least since Civilization4 with its modmod(mod)s…

      But I suppose that by DLC you mean *paid* DownLoadable Content?

      • popej says:

        Yes, paid. Sorry it was a bit of a throwaway comment to be honest.

        Truthfully I’m not actually sure what to think of paid DLC. My present mind set is that “I absolutely won’t pay money for mods” but who knows whether I’ll feel the same way if something catches my eye in x years time. It doesn’t sit well with me though, it’s just not right somehow.

        I think mods remaining free is ultimately a better outcome but substantiating why isn’t really possible.

        Progress I guess….

  10. Spider Jerusalem says:

    I’m rather baffled that anyone thinks charging for mods is a good thing. It completely undermines the entire purpose of the community. Stick a donation button in the workshop and be done with it.

    • JimThePea says:

      Were mod pages allowed to have links to donate before this ‘thing’ happened? Because I’ve seen things like “Visit my site to donate: *LINK REMOVED*” today, seems like Valve are ripping out the option to donate.

      • LexW1 says:

        There was no official “allowed” but yeah, they were not being removed.

        Then this came in, and they are being removed.

        So pretty fucked-up frankly. Pay Valve or fuck off is the message, I guess. How dare you prefer that donations go to you, rather than every single downloader be asked to pay.

        You can’t even let them have the mod for free if you want them to be able to pay you! The dead minimum is $0.25.

        So you’re either charging every single customer $0.25 or more, or you’re charging nothing. That’s what Valve have done here.

        • GiantPotato says:

          I thought there was a “pay what you want” button also?

        • JimThePea says:

          Oh Valve, that really is disgusting, I guess we might see creative ways of circumventing this, I mean they shouldn’t cut links your own site that just happens to offer the ability to donate. Is it also possible to message a modder privately and offer more than 25% of the price of the mod for them to sent it to you direct? How are mod files even handled? I’m guessing there’s no DRM, so maybe popular mods will be pirated.

          • GiantPotato says:

            I would make a guess that Steam Workshop needs to download encrypted versions of paid mods for this whole thing to work (I haven’t heard one way or the other). But even if that were the case, it wouldn’t prevent a mod-maker from creating an unencrypted version and distributing it outside of Steam.

            In other words: It wouldn’t be difficult to make a mod that only works with Steam games. But it would be much more difficult to make a game that only works with Steam mods.

  11. gunner1905 says:

    This will only be fine if there is an assurance that the paid mods would not conflict with other mods and that an update would not break the mod, just like any paid product., but right now the only policy Valve has about this is tough luck, which is ridiculous for a paid product. There’re already early access mods, what happens if something like Spacebase DF-9 happens, there’s even less recourse for the customers. This was ok when it was free because it was free, now modders could and should be sued if they do not provide support.

    • JimThePea says:

      I’m not sure about legal action, but what I do see happening is a situation where a popular mod breaks, isn’t fixed and the Internet’s angriest feel justified in making the mod creator’s life a misery because they feel swindled. A price paid could be the difference between receiving friendly messages asking for bug fixes and getting abusive death threats.

  12. NotToBeLiked says:

    I don’t mind mod creators charging for their work. It is much less likely I will play their mods, but that is their own choice. But this system is a horrible idea. In most countries with proper consumer protection laws, the consumer can go to whoever sold him something to complain if the product is faulty. What happens when a paid-for mod breaks and the creator can’t be bothered to fix it? In a lot of countries Valve is responsible for refunding the customer in such a case. But according to the FAQ: “If you find that mod has broken or is behaving unexpectedly, it is best to post politely on the Workshop item’s page and let the mod author know the details of what you are seeing.” That is some complete and utter nonsense there. Valve SELLS the product, kicks back a small part of the money to the creator, but any and all problems should still be fixed by the creator? At least in the EU this is illegal, and when the first popular paid-for mod breaks, it’s very likely Valve will find itself in court…

    • Archonsod says:

      That’s not actually how the law works.

    • gi_ty says:

      I would think that it would be mostly self regulating in this regard. Most people who build a paid for mod would care about their good name. Trust with the consumer is a huge part of PC gaming and any modder who either by accident or intent sells something that is broken at some point would suffer, likely having a very hard time selling anything else. The rabid reactions of gamers when they feel they have been wronged has been very helpful to the consumer, despite the ridiculous vitriol. I think the same self regulating that happens with indie games is applicable in this situation, the good well supported mods rise to the top and the mod makers revel in their success. The broken mods are shouted down and their makers shunned.

  13. Ejia says:

    There was a similar issue with sites that charged money for some custom content in the various Sims games. Eventually I think it was realized that even if their EULA stated you couldn’t charge for them EA were taking a cut anyway. This was years ago, though, and I don’t remember the specifics.

  14. Wulfram says:

    I don’t really like paid mods. I feel like it undermines the sense of community

    But I might just be saying that because I play a lot of mods and am cheap.

  15. James says:

    I have already written a thing on this. Not so much on my opinion but on the arguments. In a more economic and philosophical sense than I have found elswhere. I’m not going to write it out again so I’ll just link you here:

    link to destructoid.com

  16. tomimt says:

    The way I see this is, that this move has a potential to give birth to a brand new industry within game industry, which can have either negative or postitive effect.

    The positive effect is, that well moddable games get even more longevity through well made mods. The devs themselves have more reasons to keep a game afloat, when they get their percentages and the mod makers can themselves become professionals in their content creation. If it works out, there could potentially be more high content, high quality mods which go beyond adding a Gordon Freeman armor in Skyrim.

    The negative effect is that there will be a ton of modders who will push out a ton of crap in order to see what stick on the wall. A Zynga effect to modding, if you will. An avalance of low quality, unimaginative shlock that tries desperately to clash into some trend or an another.

    I don’t want to judge this yet, as it’s still too early to tell what’ll happen.

    • pepperfez says:

      The history of low-but-positive-priced app stores tells us that your bad outcome is overwhelmingly likely, whatever offsetting good happens.

  17. woodsey says:

    It’s a nice idea and the whole “Valve are greedy” schtick is about as narrow as you can possibly get on the subject, but I don’t see it working. It’s making it way too easy to turn a hobby into a business, and that doesn’t sound like a good idea.

    • woodsey says:

      I should add that my concern isn’t really with the teams of people developing total overhaul expansions, but anything much less than that is going to become a problem.

      Hell, how are they going to deal with the amount of people trying to put Final Fantasy swords in Skyrim and charging for it? Just seems like a legal nightmare waiting to happen.

  18. brgillespie says:

    I don’t believe this will effect the Skyrim modding community. A quick perusal of the Skyrim Modding subreddit, Skyrim Nexus comment sections, and various news sources seem to show that the “old guard” of Skyrim modders are circling the wagons and actively proclaiming that they’ll keep their mods free of charge (these are proclamations from very large, established mod teams, too).

    The Skyrim modding community is established and has been for years, in other words.

    The downsteam effects are what have me curious. When you have monetized mods, there’s a general and understandable reason to not share modding tips, and not let your work be reverse-engineered. There won’t be any collaborative efforts in mods, with credits featuring “thanks for XXX for letting me include XXX mod”. It fragments the community…

    …I’m curious (and dreading) the result of monetized mods on future Bethesda games, such as the next Elder Scrolls or whatever. THAT’S when we’ll know what monetized mods will do for Bethesda games.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      There’s also the issue of Steam Workshop being a walled garden.
      I recently bought Star Ruler 2 on GoG – because for many reasons, like this one, I prefer to buy on GoG rather than on Steam when able.
      But here’s the thing : The Steam version of Star Ruler 2 has Steam Workshop access. Guess where most of the mods end up being uploaded?

      As of now, there are :
      89 mods on Steam Workshop
      1 mod on Moddb
      on the official Star Ruler 2 forums :
      0 released mods, 3 WIP mods, 2 of them with release links, 1 pointing to somewhere else than Steam Workshop… yup, you guessed it, at moddb.

      And if I don’t own the game on Steam, I can’t upload or download mods from Steam Workshop for that game. There was an “Enhanced Steam Workshop Downloader” tool, but Valve recently changed the Workshop which broke it. (From these news, this was probably on purpose.)

      Discussion about this on Star Ruler 2 forums here :
      link to forums.blind-mind.com

      “Will Steam Workshop split the modding community?” thread from Nexus from a few years ago here :
      link to forums.nexusmods.com

      • Emeraude says:

        I can see that happen to Shadowrun Returns despite the developer doing its best to prevent the rift, yeah.

    • onodera says:

      SkyUI 5.0 will be sold on Steam.

  19. Christo4 says:

    What if i pay for 10 mods, that work now, but after 1-2 months 2 of the devs stopped working on them, 3 of them have gotten updates that made them incompatible and the other 5 are getting updates only now and then, with stuff maybe breaking even more?
    Also, i guess it kinda works for skyrim atm (even if one of the mods that valve showcased actually got pulled off for using another’s stuff), but what if it was a new game, with frequent updates? So many mods break because of patches.
    Not to mention some of the best mods being mods that incorporate other mods, making a whole package of goodies, since they were free it was possible with just a permission from the original author, but like this it’ll probably be a thing of the past other than on nexus.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      Hopefully Valve will finally add to Steam a way to choose which version of the game we want to install (and stop making updates (almost) mandatory).
      They already partly have the infrastructure for that (as seen by the option for beta versions of the game), and if they don’t have a “diff” solution implemented yet to save server space, it shouldn’t be too hard to implement with their means.
      And the argument that you shouldn’t be able to run an old version of the game because of multiplayer cheating issues doesn’t really hold water anymore : Steam has non-multiplayer focused non-Valve games too now, not only CounterStrike anymore!

    • Baines says:

      Under the current situation, Valve’s advice is for you to nicely post comments on the mod’s Steam page asking the modder to please update the mod.

      Seriously.

      From the FAQ on the Steam page advertising the new paid mod system:
      Q. What happens if a mod I bought breaks?”
      “A. Sometimes one mod may modify the same files as another mod, or a particular combination of mods may cause unexpected outcomes. If you find that mod has broken or is behaving unexpectedly, it is best to post politely on the Workshop item’s page and let the mod author know the details of what you are seeing.

  20. satan says:

    Can think of a few ways to rort this off the top of my head, the easiest one would be somebody rereleasing their popular mod under a new name (or mod suite) everytime they update it so they can double/triple/quadruple dip.

  21. Steve Catens says:

    I like the concept of mod makers being able to charge for content, and if this were anything actually resembling that, and not resembling Steam exploiting fan work for profit, I might view it more favorably.

    But whether I like it or not, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a logistical clusterf*** that has very little chance of working out well. The mod community tends to be pretty incestuous, with people constantly borrowing and building on other peoples work, and incorporating other people mods into their own with permission–or otherwise. Not to mention how fast and loose mod makers tend to play with the work of other artists and musicians, which is one thing to do when working on a not for profit fan effort, but quite another thing to do when you’re monetizing it.

    How the hell are they going to sort all that out? You’d have to be constantly policing every little bit of a mod, and sooner or later there are going to be lawyers involved.

    • pepperfez says:

      Fortunately for them, the institutions making the changes have no real skin in the game. If it works, Great! They get a new unearned revenue stream. If it fails and the modding scene collapses, Fine! More pent-up demand for official DLC. So who cares how they police it?

      • Steve Catens says:

        No skin in the game? I don’t know. I’m no expert on the law in this area, but it seems to me if Valve and Bethesda are directly profiting from the work, then when modders inevitably face legal action for violating copyright and monetizing someone else’s work they open themselves up to action as well.

        Some of my favorite and most historically celebrated mods have used other people’s art and music without permission, not to mention the wholesale copy and pasting of other modders efforts. Modders doing non profit works are too small of a fish for most people to get worked up over. But a nice fat company like Bethesda or Valve “knowingly” selling someone else’s licensed music without permission? That seems like a good legal target to me.

  22. Timbrelaine says:

    If I was a modder I’d make slightly better versions of $5 ‘horse-armor’ mods and sell them for $2. Maybe this is how faction-packs and player-skins cease to be acceptable DLC.

  23. Kaeoschassis says:

    Linking this not so much because I agree with it entirely, but because it’s by one of my favourite modders and I’m mainly interested in what the people making mods have to say about all this.
    link to terminusest13.tumblr.com

    Honestly I appear to be with the majority in that I really do want modders to be able to get payed for what they do, but really don’t think this is the way to go about it.

    Really though, should I be surprised? I’m enormously cynical. Like wow, so god-damned cynical, but for me, from the outside, it just looks like valve going “Hey, sure are a lot of mods out there. Know something we aren’t making any money from yet? Mods” and I reflexively do not like that one bit. That’s the opposite of what modding’s always been about.

    • pepperfez says:

      Remember when modders got paid by using their mods to get into the industry? Of course those jobs are being made into zero-security piecework too, so I guess what’s the difference.

  24. pepperfez says:

    If it’s not monetized, why should it even exist? God, this is just so depressing.

      • Jenks says:

        This is terrible, now all the people who spend time creating things to entertain me for free are going to want money for it. :(

        • Emeraude says:

          Way to miss the point.

          Valve wants to change a community of hobbyists – of amateur enthusiasts producing for the sake of producing and for their and other amateur enthusiasts’ enjoyment – into a marketplace.

          They want to turn fandom into serious business.

          And it seems like they are unwilling or unable to understand that not all content produced is meant to be marketable. Some things are meant to be shared, and directly deride their value from the sharing itself.

          Sure, as much as other modders, there are modders to whom I’d love to give money (have too in the past). But not for their mods as products – if only because by then I would be their customer and that’s a completely different relationship, one where one is expecting and entitled to *results* from the other – but as a purely symbolic “thank you” gesture, in absence of the interpersonal context that would make a more properly individualized present possible. And I would never have paid for their mods in the first place. They were taken freely because they were given freely, in both sense of the word.

          I’ve been saying for some time that Valve has been killing from the inside the old PC community, and here it’s just another blow: the approach they are taking leads to still more professionalization of the old DIY PC crowds, and at best to self-cannibalization and division of the community. Which is a loss for us all.

          But probably a gain for (at least some) professionals.

  25. RaoulDuke says:

    “In all honesty, I don’t not strongly for or against this move, so don’t expect a tubthumping THIS IS WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN conclusion.”

    Can you please stop writing articles on your phone, or proof read your stuff, whichever applies here. I just can’t be bothered reading the article when the mistakes make your stance unclear. I don’t always agree with you guys/guyettes so I’d at least like to know your position on a subject with reasonable clarity.

    I don’t not hope can’t sort this out ><

  26. Joshua Northey says:

    People who want to work on collaborative free mods still can, and those who want to make some specific or high quality mod that address some particular niche scan charge if they like. Where is the problem? I once worked as a main member on a few big mod projects, and this model would not have changed those at all. If some of the modded assets you used were no longer free you would simply source other assets?

    Life isn’t all fairytales and rainbows and people need to be compensated for their work if they so desire.

    • JimThePea says:

      Well, I don’t know about rainbows, but the last few decades of modding makes it look like modders didn’t feel they needed to be compensated for their work (monetarily speaking).

      It’s important to recognise that the only reason this exists so that Valve and Bethesda could be compensated for modders’ work.

  27. Kollega says:

    Here’s something else… Epic Games have decided to use a “mod marketplace” business model to support the development of Unreal Tournament 4 before Valve decided to start monetizing mods. But something tells me history won’t remember that part of their business.

    • Baines says:

      Epic has its own thing to be at least slightly annoyed with, though most people are happy enough to see an official new Unreal Tournament that they don’t mind.

      Epic had no plans to make a new Unreal Tournament. The fan community even asked. So the fan community started a project to make a community-driven spiritual sequel. Epic said that was great, warned that lawyers meant the community couldn’t use UT assets or designs, and still had no plans to make an official UT. The fan community gets a proof of concept build together while Epic announces an announcement. The eventual actual announcement was that Epic was going to make an official UT and was asking for community support.

  28. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Great news! Now the Free Market Magic of Competition, Profit an Innovation will make mods the best they will ever be.
    I can’t wait until the next Bethesda game when we get to pay for five different unofficial patches that are obviously better than any made for free.

    I’d also love a paywall on stuff like DSFix for Dark Souls. Stuff like that should be like DLC.
    /s

  29. Dread says:

    I can’t condone this practice in the way it is implemented. I do agree, that mod authors deserve payment for their work, if it is a quality work. They spend time and workpower to develop a product. But I don’t think, they should be able to put a pricetag on it, a donation option would fit much better. Or, the modder releases a basic version and provides a roadmap of what he could do with a certain amount of money put into his project.
    The big questmods are the biggest thing here. Those mods, which take thousands of hours to make and provide 10+ hours additional content are probably the mods, which need money to see them to completion the most.

    But looking at Valves Debut pack, there is nothing of the sort in here. 10 of the 17 mods in there are just some custom items. The big three are Arissa, a companion for 5$. Why would I pay that, when I can get a dozen companions of similar quality with Interesting NPCs? Wet and cold, a nice immersive mod for 5$; it’s cool and adds to the game, but I don’t think I’d ever pay for something like that. Midas Magic, several new spell effects for 6$. Sure, you can go down to 1-3$ with the pay what you want function, but honestly, none of the mods in the debut pack are ones I would ever consider paying for.

    The business practice here is horrible. Valve takes 75% of the money. If we assume, Bethesda gets an equal cut, then Valve gets 37.5% for doing absolutely nothing, Bethesda gets 37.5% for developing a game with mod tools 3.5 years ago, which they haven’t touched in 2 years and the people, who actually did the work of creating the mod only get 25%.
    Additionally, this works towards the further monopolization of Steam, as mod authors, who want to make money off their work need to go to workshop, instead of somewhere else. This is especially terrible for Skyrim as Workshop isn’t used by most Skyrim players, since NMM or MO are far superior and until recently workshop had this 100MB file size limit.
    What’s more, Valve is actively censoring the criticism. When I checked yesterday, the debut pack had a 1-star rating with over 1500 votes, the individual paid mods looked similar. Now the votes on all of this have been removed.

    Finally there are the concerns about quality and content theft. What’s to stop a person from downloading a mod from nexus and uploading it to workshop as his work and ask money for it? What’s to stop people from asking too much money? What’s to stop people from uploading worthless mods, just trying to trick people in making some money off of them? Valves policy regarding customer service and quality assurance is very lax, so I have many concerns about this.

    Now, what are the future implications? As I said above, 10 of the debut mods are custom items, they are on a level with horse armor dlc. If this works, then the door for return of similar DLC from developers is wide open. Publishers might see potential in this and restrict modding. For example, they could incorperate mods in the game client, only allow paid releases and take a large portion of the revenue for themselves. Or they might want to sell the modding tools to the modders to force them to ask for money and then still take a portion of the profits.
    The possible business implications are massive and considering how far AAA-publishers are willing to go, none of it seems too outlandish. I hope, the backlash this has created isn’t a fluke and the consumer speaks with his wallet here to stop this practice before it gets out of hand.

    Lastly, this may kill copyrighted content mods, i.e. LotR, Star Wars and so on. Mostly, mods of this type fly under the radar, because they are noncommercial. If paid mods become common practice, we might see a crackdown from the copyright holders to shut all of those down, regardless of whether they are free or paid.

    What I think needs to be done:
    1) Change the money distribution. Something like 75% modder, 20% bethesda, 5% valve is much more reasonable
    2) Make mods available for free, i.e. allow pay what you want to be set to 0$ or replace the payment with a donation option. I don’t think turning mods into community made dlc is the way to go.

    • airmikee says:

      Valve only takes 5% in your idea? LOL

      Apple takes 30% of every sale made in their App Store, after charging $99 to sell the app in the first place. Google charges $25 just to sell apps and takes 30% as well. Amazon, eBay, hell, even brick and mortar stores that do consignment take a chunk of every single sale.

      If modders want more than 25%, they’re free to set up their own store and sell the mod on their own. Since they’ve had the chance to do that ever since mods became standard way back with Doom in the early 90’s, something tells me that modders (read: hobbyists) that want to get paid are delusional and should be happy with the 25% and maybe question if they’re being overpaid in the process.

  30. airmikee says:

    After five years on Steam I’ve only ever downloaded four mods, and I still use only two of them (turning the moons in Skyrim into the Death Star, the other two were broken shit.) I’ve never, ever seen any mod and thought, “I’d be willing to pay cash for this.” I used to use add-ons to modify World of Warcraft pretty heavily back in the day, and the hassle of keeping them updated after every patch would prevent me from ever considering paying for them (and thankfully Blizzard has taken most of those ideas and implemented them into the core game.) Chrome extensions turned out to be the same as those WoW add-ons, each update to Chrome would break most of the extensions I used until they were updated as well, giving me reason to stop using extensions.

    If a game becomes so boring to me that I absolutely need to change it into a different game with mods, then I just accept that I can’t half-ass it and buy a different game. If developers half-ass their game to the point that it requires third party modifications in order to be playable, I simply stop playing that game. I’m not against mods, add-ons, or extensions, if other people want to use them that’s fine, but I find them annoying and more like band-aids that hide ugly flaws and defects in the original program than anything useful.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      And yet there are mods like Half-Life 1’s Counter Strike, Warcraft 3’s Defense of the Ancients (arguably a map rather than a mod), Quake’s Team Fortress, the whole “Tower defense” genre from Starcraft 1 maps, which were so successful they became full-fledged games.

      And there are plenty of very high-quality mods that didn’t “make it” yet to full game status.

      Or are you saying that there are no good mods on Steam’s Workshop?

    • All is Well says:

      I realize you’re just describing your preferences here, but even so:
      you’re assuming games are perfectly interchangeable, and that some games cannot be improved upon for anyone. If there’s a problem with game X, just go play game Y, which is perfect.
      But games aren’t like that, at least not in my experience. If I’m unhappy with the fact that Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines has really low-res textures, I can’t exactly go play another game because there is no “VTMB but with higher resolution textures”. And if I’m playing CKII and get annoyed that I can break history by conquering all of Europe as Sweden by 1256, but can’t institute absolute cognatic laws unless I’m Basque? Where am I going to go to get my gender-equal medieval grand strategy itch scratched?
      And that entirely leaves out games which would have been crap and best not played if not for modders, such as Cliffs of Dover and Silent Hunter 5.

      • Guzzleguts says:

        If your exposure to mods is limited to steam workshop then maybe you would have such misguided thoughts. Personally, I consider the mods on steam so far to be dumbed-down, xbox generation modding light. This is mainly due to the pathetically small file-size limit that they’ve had.

        In what sense are total overhaul mods such as Requiem, Fall from Heaven 2, Last days of the third age, DayZ etc like bandaids?

        No, if you’re not into modding then I guess you won’t care about modding. Great.

  31. JimThePea says:

    It’s kind of creepy how it seems like nobody really actually asked for this, Valve willed it, and so it was. Like, it’s not even a question people are asking, it’s “This is now the way things are now, what now?”.

    Valve and Bethesda saw a way to make money where previously they weren’t, the reasons for this happening begin and end with that.

    • Guzzleguts says:

      If only, there was more of a modding scene for Deus Ex: HR. I was thinking Jensen could be a good poster-boy.

  32. SaintAn says:

    I’m so pissed about this I want to riot. They’re killing what I love about PC gaming by making it about making money instead of improving a game you love for yourself and the community and receiving donations in return by people that love and appreciate your work. Anyone that buys or sells mods should be banned from the internet, those fucking sellouts and sheep. Donations have worked fine to help people pump out excellent mods for a long long time until now, so there was no problem with funding mods, but now it’s all about greed thinks to that greedy worse than EA POS company Valve, and that idiotic company Bethesda. Bethesda’s Fallout and TES games are very bland and poorly made, and the only reason they are so loved is because they are a modding sandbox. With mods becoming poorly made DLC there’s no reason to bother buying Fallout or TES games anymore unless you plan to pirate mods, because buying the mods that make the games good will likely take hundreds of dollars.

    This is all disgusting.

    • rochrist says:

      You’re aware that there have been pay mod markets for years, right?

  33. P.Funk says:

    The sheer volume of borrowed assets in most mods is going to make this into a heartbreaking community splitting reality. You put money into the mix and the tenuous friendships that form around mod projects will explode.

    This disgusts me just because I know how corrosive it will be for my favourite end of PC gaming. Mods were always the place you could go to escape the mindless money seeking blandness of the mainstream and see something beautiful created based on the joy of creativity. Now it’ll be toxic and polluted by money, as if thats the only real thing that matters.

    The sad thing is this even affects those who choose not to participate int he monetary policy because they now have to face people taking their free content, using it in a for profit mod, and having to decide how to face that. Given how Valve is useless at responding to community issues I feel this is a very very bad thing we’re facing. It may eventually become alright or even good, but with valve at the head… I feel like its open season because they’re just no good at management, or “curation” as the modern vogue bit of nomenclature goes.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      Nail, head -> critical strike. Well said.

      It’s an entire crate with cans of ugly worms you open up when you accept money for hobbyist work.
      Modders participating in this can’t hide behind “it’s just for fun” when facing critique. They go AWOL for months after putting up a version 0.1 of a mod, and then there’s all the support stuff – you potentially sell your sanity for pennies when you have to help out people with their insane incompatibilities and weird issues (just look at *any* comment section on the Nexus for examples). Skyrim mods can be a thousand times more complex than TF2 hats.
      If this was truly about supporting modders it would be a true pay-what-you-want donation and not a paywall. Instead it’s just another fire-and-forget Steam money generator. Zero risk and 75-100% of the profits.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        Edit: *They *can’t* go AWOL for months…
        [save me edit button jebus]

    • Premium User Badge

      BlueTemplar says:

      Looks like that the solution is a Copyleft License with No Commercial Use (especially considering the Pay-as-much-as-you-want as implemented by Valve cannot be “nothing”, and no donation button afterwards – cannot even delete the mod from your profile and re-buy it for a bigger sum to support the modder I guess?).

      Hopefully the most prominent Skyrim modders will realize what you’re pointing out, change their current stance, use a license like that, and teach people about copyleft in the process…

      • April March says:

        Even if that happened I’d be cynical of Steam dealing with breaches of independent modders’ copyleft breaches with the same celerity they deal with AAA studios’ copyright breaches.

  34. Distec says:

    On one hand, I think content creators can ask for money if they want to. (gl)

    On the other, everything else about this development smells like a hot bowl of shit.

    No sir, I don’t like it.

  35. GiantPotato says:

    I’ve been modding as a hobby for almost 20 years and I can’t really see this catching on. There are 2 things that I’m pretty sure will happen:

    1. A lot of the people who mod games will try to monetize their work and realize they don’t have the dedication to make themselves continue with projects that they’ve gotten bored of. As soon as a patch comes out or you bump against someone else’s mod you have to merge the two together. It’s a tedious and complicated task and there are lots of modders who aren’t very good at it. So these mods will bang up against each other and get overwritten by patches and end up either working or not working, and people who paid money will get really pissed over the whole thing.

    2. Modders are going to get nasty with each other about IP rights, because the system that Valve is setting up looks ripe for abuse. If you’re selling a popular mod for $5, what’s to stop someone else from downloading it and putting it right back on the store for $4? Even a flagrant, unimaginative scam like that looks like it could make money before it got shut down. But what will be much worse are cases where it’s not really clear who owns what. Is it a texture recoloring, a hi-res remake, or a new asset? If you take someone else’s animation and render a new model, who should get paid? I wouldn’t be surprised if these kinds of fights lead Valve to pull the plug on the whole thing.

    • pepperfez says:

      I’m just hoping any plug-pulling is done before too much damage accrues to the modding scene.

      • GiantPotato says:

        I think some people in the modding scene already had an eye towards monitization. It’s a problem that was going to happen sooner or later regardless.

        • April March says:

          Yeah, but there was this sense, for better or for worse, that this just wasn’t how things were done. Now we have two big corporations giving the thumbs up, not to mention the template, for this to happen.

    • wengart says:

      As a consumer #1 is my biggest worry.

      You have 24 hours to refund the mod if it doesn’t work. So that requires that you buy the mod and then beeline towards the damn thing to make sure it works. Then if at any point after the 24 hour period the mod were to break (update, another mod, etc, etc, you covered most of it) then you are shit out of luck.

      A “Donate” button makes a lot more sense to me because there isn’t the cultural weight of a purchase hanging over the mod. When you buy something you expect a certain amount of quality and consumer protection which literally doesn’t exist here. A donation presumes a certain amount of “Fuck it, whatever happens, happens”.

      #2 you can see a microcosm of in the recent Arma modding competition. Usually the community is pretty collaborative, but during that “Make Arma Not War” contest everyone bolted their houses. No sharing here. No community here.

      • Atrak says:

        Not just that but if you do go for the refund option, your not going to get that money back, It will just go straight back into your steam wallet so no matter what Valve has your money and they aren’t giving it back.

  36. popej says:

    Hah, there’s some great trolls already:

    link to steamcommunity.com

    • Baranor says:

      Not three days ago I was tjinking about deinstalling Skyrim and reinstalling with a fresh set of mods.

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

      Yeah right. I dont like them apples. This is money grabbing without thought. It is stupid. It will create havoc… copyright wars between people who cooperated and had a hobby… all for a few more bucks.

  37. MikhailG says:

    My only worry is that once a game goes the route of ‘pay for the mods on steam!’, will it still be viable to share them outside of steam, for free or paid? I am pretty sure this is just going to give ammunition to trigger happy lawyers to crack down on mod teams and to allow publishers and steam to simply gate outside mods that don’t use steams workshop. Just like mentioned in the article, will this mean the death to nexusmods considering skyrim?

    This is pretty much my only big concern.

    • pepperfez says:

      That’s the Microsoft-perfected “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” strategy at work.

  38. Baines says:

    Something I mentioned on the RPS forums, the Skyrim mod that has been pulled? When originally defending the paid mod, one of the modders involved said Valve told him it was okay. He had posted: “I asked Valve specifically about content that requires other content, and was told that if the download is separate and free, it was fair game.” Mind, it sounds like the modders chose to pull the paid mod, and not Valve.

    • JimThePea says:

      Yeah, the maker says he choose to pull the mod: link to reddit.com

      He’s since withdrawn from the Internet after receiving a lot of abuse and death threats, seems some gaming blogs didn’t do their due diligence and painted him as trying to profit from stolen work, which wasn’t quite the case. I think this shows how pretty much every paid modding controversy is going to go down from now on, whether any modder is in the right or wrong is irrelevant, if there’s a problem, they’re going to have a big ol’ target painted on their heads.

      ‘Modgate’ in 3, 2, 1…

  39. Monggerel says:

    And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and See.

  40. Bob says:

    After playing the excellent total conversion mod for Deus Ex, The Nameless Mod, I enjoyed it that much I donated the equivalent of a price for an AAA game. I wouldn’t have paid that amount straight off the bat having no idea of it’s quality, so my concern would be what are we getting for our money? Could there be some review done before they hit the market, or would the logistics of that be too much to overcome?

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      The dialogue in that mod is vomit-inducing. I don’t understand how people can promote such a piece of shit.

  41. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    My first hunch is to be against. I think this will make developers and publishers less likely to allow modding. It will also create a whole ‘nother mess like we have now with early access titles. So, probably causes more issues than it solves.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      To add: as others have said, I bet we’ll see people using content others made available for free and then charge for it (after modifying it or incoprporating it into things they made). And then there’s the fear that the mod scene will change with people becoming less willing to coöperate and share.

      I don’t know, with what I’ve mentioned it just doesn’t seem worth it to me. That doesn’t mean that those people who create wonderful mods don’t deserve recognition and being rewarded for what they’ve created, but that’s where donating could come in.

      • skittles says:

        What you describe is theft, and Valve will have things in place to prevent that. Reporting and whatnot.

        As for your first comment, I fail to see what you mean. This move makes it MORE likely publishers will allow modding. As they will now be getting a revenue from the mods. Or did you think that Steam was suddenly going to allow mod creators to sell stuff and keep all the money? Valve will be taking a cut of sales, and so will the IP owners, just like anything else sold on Steam Marketplace.

        • JimThePea says:

          This is already a reality on the App Store, doesn’t take a leap of the imagination to see it happening here. The FAQ on Steam states that the mod creator can make a claim of copyright infringement and issue a takedown notice, but I’m not sure Valve have the will to establish if someone has taken someone else’s free mod, slightly changed it or mixed it in with other work. I see them taking the stance that it’s down to the modders to solve legal disputes, which will never happen.

          • Baines says:

            Valve says you can send a DMCA notice.

            That could imply that Valve could be taking the YouTube approach, doing little to no checking on its own and leaving it to the two parties to fight it out in court if both sides want to take it that far.

            Which could get interesting if people start abusing Steam’s reporting system the way that people abuse YouTube’s system. On the other hand, you probably run more risk of Valve coming after you if you are caught abusing the system, unlike Goolge/YouTube which just ignores such abuse.

  42. rochrist says:

    A) Pay mods are not even close to a new thing. See the MS Flight SIm, X-Plane, Train Simulator etc.

    B) /Steam/ is not charging for mods. Mod makers are charging for mods (those that do, in fact, charge). Misleading headline is misleading.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      When you can buy a mod through steam and valve gets paid for the transaction, I think it’s safe to say that Steam is charging for mods.

  43. airknots says:

    Will this move by Steam make it illegal for modders to use sites like Patreon (Bryan Shannon’s using it for extra assets in Cities: Skylines)? I’d rather give 100% of the money to modders I support.

  44. tofusheep says:

    in my opinion there is absolutely no “for” for this. and i can’t understand any seriously motivated modder wanting to be a part of this scam-scheme. 75% of the money for bethesda and valve and they only pay you once you reach over 100USD income (that was the last info i saw about it)… that is slave labor.

    if i, as a player, liked a mod so much, that i would be willing to pay for it, then i would want to make sure that 100% of my money goes to THE GODDAMN MODDER WHO CREATED THE MOD… the game publisher already got my money. the most i would be willing to acknowledge is 1% for valve (for their hosting/modding store).

    in short: a modder should of course be able to decide to only sell his mod, but only if he gets at least 99% of the money… i won’t support anything else.

  45. MellowKrogoth says:

    I think modding communities are a their best when everyone is allowed to freely combine and remix mods from other modders. The best communities for that being the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Civ ones. Mods are hard to make work together, and unless you want to spend weeks fine-tuning your install, you need someone more competent to do it for you. Fall from Heaven would never have been made without massive bundling of mods from other people. Mods going pay-to-play is almost certainly going to hinder that kind of collaboration. I fear it’s only gonna amplify the endless bickering that’s already exemplified in communities such as Skyrim/Oblivion/Morrowind and Minecraft.

    If game creators knew what was good for them and for their players they’d only allow open-source, non-commercial mods.

  46. Chodetaculous says:

    I unironically hope that anyone that permits, encourages, or agrees with this decision falls over right now and dies. Fuck you.

  47. Premium User Badge

    Oakreef says:

    Pretty much all of the arguments I’m seeing against the idea of selling mods in general (rather than specific complaints about the percentage cut etc) are applicable to games to. Mods are better when people freely share assets? Games would be too. Updates might break mods? OS and framework updates break games all the time (this system might actually give companies a more direct financial incentive not to break mods). Greed, theft and shitty cash grabs? Welcome to capitalism in general. These are not unique problems to mods. This is the nature of capitalism. That’s not a defence of the practices BTW, that’s me saying capitalism is bad.

  48. Tayh says:

    I thought you people would be happy about this?
    I mean, Valve can’t do anything wrong, right?
    You are not being happy little milk cows. Gabe won’t be happy.

  49. onodera says:

    I don’t think Skyrim was the best game to start the whole process with. It’s one thing if your game can be supported with simple independent mods like new cars or new hats, but the attraction of Skyrim lies not in a single shiny sword that magically appears in your inventory. No, it’s huge comprehensive and interdependent patches that are important. And paying for them is a mess.

    First of all, there’s Unofficial Skyrim Patch. I would gladly pay the authors, but paying them means Bethesda is also getting paid for not fixing their own game.

    Second, there’s SKSE which is not exactly 100% legal to use, according to the license agreement of Skyrim. Still, there will be paid mods that require it. In a just universe, that should result in the revision of the EULA, since Bethesda now knowingly supports its violation.

    Third, what about compatibility patches? If I make a mod that requires another popular mod to be rewritten for both of them to play well together, what happens? I cannot include the rewritten version in my mod, the author of the original mod won’t bother to release a compatible version, now the players can only enjoy one or the other.

    Fourth, this will have a chilling effect on contributions. What happens when several people collaborate on a single mod? What if I am a musician and I make a soundtrack for a mod in development? If this mod will be sold, I will not write this tune “for exposure”, I will not write it for a cut of those 25%, I’ll ask for a fixed compensation.

    Fifth, who holds the rights to the mods? If I you use the Creation Kit, “You automatically grant to Bethesda Softworks the irrevocable, perpetual, royalty free, sublicensable right and license under all applicable copyrights and intellectual property rights laws to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, perform, display, distribute and otherwise exploit and/or dispose of the New Materials (or any part of the New Materials) in any way Bethesda Softworks, or its respective designee(s), sees fit.” Does this even mean I cannot even poison my mod with a copyleft license? What if I poison my textures, my SKSE, my soundtrack with GPL or CC-BY-NC-SA? Even mods that want to stay free can’t use them, Bethesda can start selling these mods and it’s the mod author who has violated the license, not Bethesda.