Last week, Valve launched support for paid mods within Steam, beginning with a select number of Skyrim creations. Alec deftly summarised the details, pros and cons over here. Since then, the discussion has continued via blog posts, forum threads, protest mods and with game creators, mod creators and Gabe Newell getting involved. On the off-chance you didn’t spend the weekend reading this stuff while hunched over your computer like I did, I’ve gathered the most pertinent Internet Opinions below.
Most significantly, Gabe Newell started a thread on Reddit to answer the community’s complaints and questions. Much of it was things we already knew: a pay-what-you-want function is coming; they think stolen content can be policed by the community; they won’t require Steam-exclusivity for mod support from game developers; “money is how the community steers work”.
If you had to read one part, I’d make it this exchange with Robin Scott, the founder of mod website Nexus Mods. Scott asks Newell about the “DRMification of modding,” or specificailly whether Valve would ‘put their foot down’ if developers decided to only allow modding through the Steam version of a game. That’d be a possibility if, for example, a developer wanted to make sure that no modding happened that they weren’t able to profit from.
Newell said that he wouldn’t it “goes against our philosophy to be dictatorial,” and so they wouldn’t stop developers, but that they’d “be happy to tell developers that we think they are being dumb.” It’s an interesting situation, because a world in which Valve dictates terms to developers isn’t any than the one where developers might decide to make modding exclusive to Valve’s distribution platform.
Counter-Strike mapper onefmp
A Counter-Strike mapper who makes a full-time living by selling his work through the Steam Workshop created a thread on Reddit to defend paid mods as a good thing for creators. A mod later deleted the original post for some reason, but you can read it here and the rest of the discussion still on Reddit here. Onefmp is essentially pointing out the most obvious counter-argument to the fundamental criticisms of paid-mods:
Modders going full-time means they don’t have to work on games they don’t care about, and work for bosses they don’t like, in order to survive and pay the bills.
Garry Newman, creator of Garry’s Mod and Rust
Garry Newman created Garry’s Mod, a mod of Half-Life 2 that let you play with the games art assets and physics to make your own toys, screenshots, and eventually your own mods. He eventually started selling it as a full-game with Valve’s permission. “I sold a mod once and everyone was angry that it was happening, until it happened and they got a much better product than they’d have gotten when it was released for free, then they seemed to calm down a bit. It has given me a carreer for 10 years. It’s bought me two houses, a bunch of cars. It’s created a company that has hired 30+ people.”
He is understandably in favour of the move, and outlines the reasons why he thinks people who are against it are over-reacting. Newman isn’t shy and I am fond of:
YOU’RE A KID AND YOU DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY
So find a way to pirate them. That’s what we all did when we were kids with no money. Valve’s job is to make it more convenient for you to not pirate stuff.
Also “Stuff is going to happen.” At the end, Newman answers the obvious question: will people be able to sell the work they create for Garry’s Mod? “IT’s something we’re interested in for sure.”