Valve Drop Steam Paid Mods For Now

Valve are known for their odd experiments, from Team Fortress 2 hats to – heck! – Steam itself, but they tend to roll with them no matter what the reception, polishing these oddities up with force of will and years of refinement. Their plan to support selling mods through Steam, however, has gone back to the drawing board.

They launched a pilot scheme last week with Skyrim, and had planned to start letting other devs enable paid mods for their own games if they wished. Instead, they’ve removed paid mods from Skyrim, refunded everyone who bought mods, and confessed that “it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.”

Valve’s Alden Kroll explained in last night’s announcement that, turns out, modding isn’t as straightforward as the other ways Valve have let community creators sell stuff:

“To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.

“But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.”

So probably expect to see the idea return at some point.

Launching it alongside a new Valve game seems the most likely route to success, something where there’s less of a conceived notion of how its mod scene should work. Picking a game, like Skyrim, which for many is chiefly a vehicle for mods, not to mention is a bit of a shambles without mods, was clearly a bad idea. But Valve are into it, at least one publisher is into it (and surely more), and some modders are into it (evidently a fair few, given that they put their work up for sale).

Skyrim folks Bethesda explained yesterday why they were into the idea. “We completely understand the potential long-term implications allowing paid mods could mean,” they said. “We think most of them are good. Some of them are not good. Some of them could hurt what we have spent so long building. We have just as much invested in it as our players.” They added:

“We believe most mods should be free. But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don’t think it’s right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create.”

This all probably wasn’t helped by folks being able to post and sell whatever they pleased. Sure, people could file takedowns if they thought someone was yanking their stuff, but that’s far from ideal. The lack of validating what goes on sale is a real problem Valve will need a solution for.

Any bets on when paid mods will return to Steam, and with which game?


  1. Nevard says:

    Seems to be for the best.
    I hope the feature does make a return because at its core, allowing people to make some money from their hard work is a pleasant idea and only someone with as much clout as Valve would be able to push such a system through the thorny jungle of IP rights, but this definitely wasn’t a very good implementation and it seems like completely uprooting it and starting over would be better received than to gradually fix what was clearly broken.

    • Heavens says:

      The system itself wasn’t the only thing broken.
      Quite a few of their “starting mods” were really bad examples of modding, one redditor has listed his findings here:
      link to

      Their “top” armor set for example:
      – lacks a female model essentially a onesie, no seperate boots, helm or gauntlets
      – lacks a menu model
      All for the shy price of at least 1,35€.

      The list of mistakes go on, just take a look at the gallery.

      • Baines says:

        Sounds like any new Steam feature, really. No wonder Valve saw no problems.

    • Seth_Keta says:

      Valve completely dropped the ball by ignoring something very basic that could have solved this entire problem. If they had implemented a “Pay What You Want: Minimum $0”, than there would have been absolutely no uproar. The fact that they required you to pay for mods was their downfall.

      Even if you just give the option to purchase mods, some people will do so to support their favorite authors. It is effectively like donating to them, but doing it through a more convenient process (for a lot of consumers). Sometimes businesses make incredibly poor decisions, which is what inspired me to become a business major in the first place. Make better decisions.

      • Lord Byte says:

        Yeah just including a steam sanctioned “Donate to the mod author” button would’ve been awesome. But then I’d like a much better margin for the mod maker than what they were offering with paid mods.

      • welverin says:

        You are a perfect example of what was really wrong with this whole thing, an ignorant community that railed against things they perceived to be true, and yet weren’t.

        Valve absolutely did not require you to pay for mods. The people who created a mod chose whether to charge for it or not, and if so how much. No one was required to charge for a mod or told how much it should cost. A pay what you want option would have been nice (which I believe Gabe or some Valve employee said was possible), even a split slider like Humble Bundle used, but ultimately that would be up to the person who made it.

        Unfortunately the community was too busy being outraged by what they perceived to be happening to be bothered to pay attention to the facts, much less consider them rationally.

        • pepperfez says:

          I think you misread. That comment was condemning the lack of a PWYW slider starting at $0, a feature that was in fact missing. Other people may be complaining based on wrong impressions, but I’m pretty sure this commenter isn’t them.

        • P.Funk says:

          What was wrong about the community being outraged at the utter lack of oversight of a revenue stream that would be easily abused if a mod content creator didn’t police his own work actively? Oh, they’re whiny babies?

          Yea yea I get it. If people are offered a chance to make money its beyond reproach. There’s no legitimate means to criticize it, especially when the format is broken.


  2. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Skyrim was actually the ideal game for Valve to attach paid mods to. Skyrim was already a very popular game with a lot of mods to draw from so there was a large potential market. It was also an older game so there was no risk of a patch coming out and breaking paid for mods and all the problems that entailed. Skyrim’s mods also integrate into the core game in a way many mods don’t, they are integral, a reason to buy the core game and sometimes considered almost essential.

    A new game, made by Valve or otherwise won’t have any of these benefits benefits by default. Also it remains to be seen that people who make mods for Valve games will be any more open to their modding community being subverted for a Valve cash grab.

    • Pich says:

      i disagree. like 50% of Skyrim mods fix things that Bethesda fucked up in the game and it would’ve been pretty ugly to pay for what basically amounts to patches. also a lot of Skyrim mods rely on SKSE and with that system they wouldn’t have received a single cent.

      • HLP The E says:

        Disagree as well. Trying to add the concept of for-pay mods to an existing modding community is bound to create drama. The only way to do it right would be with an entirely new game that doesn’t have such a community yet; whether or not paid mods would have a beneficial or detrimental effect on that community is, of course, impossible to say.

      • Ansob says:

        And on top of that, Skyrim mods tend to break things when used together unless you very specifically tweak load orders.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Load order is largely irrelevant if you stick to the golden rule of modding: One mod per change.

          If only one mod changes leveled lists, and one changes inventories, and another changes landscapes, you dont need to worry about load order.

          If, on the other hand, you have mod that makes sweeping changes to leveled lists, and another that tweaks only a few, and one that places towns around your drastically altered landscape then yes, you will break things. And chances are good that at some point load order wont save you.

          There is a persistent myth in the TES modding community that load order and bashing fix far more than they do. I am not saying they dont fix some things. But they arent magic either.

          • John Connor says:

            I think we can all agree on one thing: if we’re paying for them, they should just work. Without that guarantee paid mods is a disaster.

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            gritz says:

            WTF are you talking about? If you have more than one item mod, there’s a good chance you have more than one mod that changes levelled lists.

          • Caelinus says:

            Anything that populates the world with items makes changes to the level list. There are a lot of mods, serving entirely different functions, that do just that. If you want to run more than a couple of mods, it is very likely you will have compatibility issues.

          • blastaz says:

            John Connors point gets to the heart of this issue.

            A paid mod basically = official dlc where the devs have farmed out content creation to a third party.

            That means it must work, work with other mods, and continue to work as the game is patched and updated.

            In other words it requires active curation by the publisher/developer in exchange for their 40% cut of the price.

            Without this curation they are always going to cause unhappy customers and complaints, even if the launch of the service goes more smoothly next time around.

            I am a massive right winger and initially dismissed the waves of uproar as a combination of people whining on the Internet/lefties crying evil capitalism down with the corporations out of muscle memory. However on reflection I think there are serious underlying issues, which valves happy go lucky, anarchic approach to service provision won’t address and which would flaw the project long term even after the knee jerk reaction died down.

            For what it’s worth I think Skyrim was a great starting game to choose, with such a vibrant, established and plugged in modding community. What Steam should have done was have invited the existing most popular and vetted mods with the option to add a pay what you want button. This would make it seem less like a dlc purchase while also adding quality control, in that you must hit X thousand downloads before you can start letting people pay.

          • Shadow says:

            “That means it must work, work with other mods, and continue to work as the game is patched and updated.”

            This is the crux of the matter, and it sucks for both creators and players.

            As the creator of a paid mod, you have a higher responsibility to keep your mod working in an ever-changing modding environment, continuously searching and testing other mods to make sure which is compatible and which isn’t. It’s a years-long process which might be too troublesome for the price you’re charging. The larger and more active the modding community, the greater the workload.

            As a paying mod player, you’re constantly risking the aforementioned creators getting fed up with the required all-aspect baby-sitting and mods you paid for dying or becoming incompatible due to lack of support. So you pay for items which may be rendered useless within a few months to a couple of years.

            And how can Valve make creators accountable? Both players and creators themselves have to be protected from abuses once money’s part of the equation. On the one hand, players will need a way to get their money back at any point if a mod dies, and on the other hand, creators probably need to be operating within a contract which describes their actual responsibilities. From the start, they should be aware of what they’re getting into and everything that’ll entail.

            All that said, there’s still plenty of room for major problems, and as it’s been said earlier, a pay-what-you-want-including-nothing option is probably the best choice. The best modders would be rewarded, and donation-like contributions would prevent the creators from being enslaved by their own creations.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        That’s a completely ridiculous affirmation, and that’s from someone who was involved in the modding community and made 300+ mods work together for Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. Mods often break more than they fix, and except a handful of really well done ones, they don’t match the quality of Bethesda’s work. Even the famed unofficial patches are known for introducing questionable changes. Of course idiots caught in the hype keep shouting “modders make so much better stuff than Bethesda!”, at least until they get a corrupted savegame.

        Meanwhile console players spend 300 hours in the game without feeling the need for a single mod.

    • drinniol says:

      Skyrim was about the worst product to do a pilot scheme – an established mod scene that relies HEAVILY on SKSE and SkyUI, one that is at the end of its life and one that is stupidly easily to rip off other people’s work and pass it off as your own.

      As a model I don’t really have a problem with it – Train Simulator pretty much does this, Microsoft Flight Sim has done it for decades (and still has a lively freebie scene, too) so there is nothing wrong with this approach. It just doesn’t fit Skyrim.

      • Dread says:

        How is Skyrims modding scene at the end of its life?

        • Vapor_Strike says:

          It’s not at the end of it’s life, but it’s getting there. There are rarely any more “large” mods being added in (with the exception of the very long-awaited Skywind), and very few of the original large mods are still being upgraded or even just watched over. Skyrim is now just a mosh pit of smaller mods that people make in a week to fulfill some small gameplay element.

    • Wulfram says:

      Skyrim was a good choice in terms of prospects of swift returns, but a bad choice otherwise because it’s basically unleashing chaos and disruption on an already established ecosystem, and effectively makes it seem like something is being taken away.

      Introducing it with a new game, or alongside modding tools, would be better.

      • waltC says:

        But the overall idea of taking an amateur hobby–which is what modding is–and trying to turn it “pro” while taking 75% of the profits–was and is a truly terrible idea. It’s just like college football is an amateur sport comprised only of students who don’t receive salaries, modding is strictly an amateur hobby. If you’re good enough to be a “full-time” game modder you need to be working somewhere in the industry professionally, imo. Aside from that, modders can continue to ask for donations, which doesn’t destroy the voluntary amateur *hobbyist* nature of modding–and which may bring the very good modders far more money than they’d ever get paid from Valve. Paid, exclusive modding is dead and hopefully will stay dead. Above all gaming should be *fun*–not nickel & diming people to death like in the cell-phone “games” industry–which is an abomination, imo.

        • pepperfez says:

          I don’t know that the college football comparison does any favors to arguments that mod markets shouldn’t exist.

      • Techguy808 says:

        I agree that Skyrim was a bad game to attach it to (too late in the game to start paying for mods that have been free for years).

        That said, I can’t imagine this would have gone down easier on a newer game. Imagine the fallout if Cities Skylines was the guinea pig here. Considering how everyone totes it’s modable nature as the antithesis of Simcity 2013, monetizing those mods would have caused just as big of an uproar.

    • Dread says:

      Also keep in mind, that Skyrim and by extension Bethesda games in general is the oldest and largest modding community out there going all the way back to 2002 with Morrowind.

      Making such a sweeping change in such an established scene simply cannot go well. The modding scene in Skyrim is a web, where many modders use resources by other modders.

      Additionally apart from the legal and community problems, there is also the factor that the workshop isn’t suited for Skyrim at all. Anyone thinking about using more than a few mods needs to use a mod manager and several additional tools and patches to make them work together. This is something workshop simply cannot provide. On top of that workshop auto-updates mods and this can often result in breaking your modsetup.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        In addition to what you’ve already mentioned, Bethesda’s modding community already has a long and storied history of infighting in mod projects, plagiarism, and a number of experiments by modders at restricting access to their content, either by making it intentionally incompatible with other mods, hiding instructions for activating the mods in documentation to prevent people from skipping readmes or monetising it in some way, such as charging for access to download pages and forums. And then there’s the underground sex mod community which includes some frankly shocking sadomasochistic and peadophilic content.

        Valve’s approach to modding in TF2 has worked out ok, but Skyrim poses a lot of problems for that model. It’s probably the most difficult game they could have chosen to roll this out on.

      • MrBehemoth says:

        “Also keep in mind, that Skyrim and by extension Bethesda games in general is the oldest and largest modding community out there going all the way back to 2002 with Morrowind.”

        Maybe largest, but certainly not oldest by any means.

        • Danley says:

          Not oldest or largest. Minecraft is bigger by an order of magnitude.

          • Dread says:

            By oldest, I didn’t mean the first ever modding community, but the one alive and active the longest. Modders like Wrye have been with Bethesda games since 2002. Sure, there are a few mods for older games like Doom, but no scene older than Bethesdas comes even remotely close in size or active time.

            It certainly is the largest, I don’t know anything about Minecraft modding, but looking at the top two sites according to google (curse and Planetminecraft) the mod-download numbers are quite a bit lower than Skyrims.

          • Danley says:

            link to

            You’re right, you don’t know anything about Minecraft modding.

          • Dread says:

            Sorry for double post, but the edit function has been removed.

            To give some numbers:
            Nexus hosts 60000 mods, Planetminecraft 7300, curse 2300
            Top downloaded mod on Nexus has 15 million downloads, top downloaded minecraft mod about 2.5 million (or 10 million, if you count this worldedit plugin as a mod)
            Skyrim has about 100 mods with over a million downloads, Minecraft has 10

            So, it is an order of magnitude difference, but for Skyrim, not for Minecraft.

          • Danley says:

            I wish I could find the article (on this site, I thought) about mod interest from Doom to Quake to Minecraft. Minecraft was off the historic scale.

            I just don’t see how there could be that much more interest but somehow less of a modding community. It’s just way more decentralized than Elder Scrolls stuff.

          • Danley says:

            And I don’t have any skin in this argument. If you’re right, you’re right. I’m just 99.9% sure Minecraft may even hawe a bigger mod community than every other game combined. That’s what that article seemed to indicate.

            link to

            People host them all sorts of different places. It’s much of the reason why the game was so popular.

          • Danley says:

            One more repost (no need to pardon yourself when I’m doing it even worse):

            There are 166 threads (and presumably separate mods) with over a million views on just the minecraft mods subforum. Views aren’t downloads, and search queries aren’t active modders, but this is just a point I’m trying to make. Minecraft modding is huge (and really cool).

          • Dread says:

            I don’t deny, that it’s big. But I don’t think the Minecraft modding scene is bigger than Skyrims and certainly not bigger than all other games combined. Considering how hard it is to even get reliable data on Minecraft mods, any article making such a statement is exaggerating massively.

            Going by google. Searching for Skyrim mods I essentially find the Nexus and then a bunch of “top skyrim mods” lists on the first page. There are other ways of obtaining mods for skyrim (ifor example workshop or TESAlliance), but Nexus easily amounts to 95%.

            Searching minecraft mods nets me 5 modding sites, the two I mentioned earlier; two more, which don’t show download numbers, and the fifth is already a tiny one. Then the Minecraft forum you mentioned and the rest are top-lists. View numbers on threads aren’t really indicative. If we take a download-ratio of one per ten thread hits, I’d say it’s somewhere between 50-75% of the numbers from Skyrim.

            Personally I’d consider the fact, that you have to work your way through this mess of a forum a sign, that the scene isn’t as well as developed.

          • Danley says:

            Being organized doesn’t mean more prolific. Almost all Skyrim mods are on Nexus. They’ve already established themselves as the place to go to post your mod or search for others. is the closest thing Minecraft has, and it alone has significantly more hits than Nexus does, even before you get to the other sites. The guy who runs Nexus either know what he’s doing or got lucky that the community gravitated towards that one place. Planet Minecraft or any other places you mentioned simply don’t compare, but the forum does.

            Finally how do you account for that Google Trend data? (link to Google’s search data seems to indicate that there are as many people looking for Minecraft mods right now than at the highest point of popularity for any of the Elder Scrolls games combined. (It also seems to indicate Oblivion still has a higher volume of mod interest which Skyrim has yet to surpass.) Is it just that Minecraft is that much more prolific than Skyrim and just happens to have a lot of people who look for mods, but Skyrim, though it has a smaller playerbase, somehow has a more saturated mod community? Because that’s about the only argument that could be made in light of that data, especially if you consider Minecraft has sold more than twice as many units as Skyrim has (55m to 24m, rounding up).

            Going from the empirical to the anecdotal, I play both games. I download dozens of mods for both games. I feel like I’ve looked through most of the Skyrim mods and tried most that looked interesting. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Minecraft mods. I’m not pulling this argument out of my ass.

          • Dread says:

            How I hate the removal of the edit function.

            It’s supposed to say Nexus amounts to 85%, not 95.

          • Dread says:

            Interesting, if you add “skyrim nexus” to the google-trends, you’ll notice that this search query is just as popular as skyrim mods, so essentially you can double the Skyrim number.

            The google graph is to be expected. Keep in mind, that Minecrafts mobile version is moddable, whereas with Skyrim only the PC version can be modded, so you are not looking at 55 vs 24 million, but at 40 vs 9 million. Combining skyrim mods + skyrim nexus, minecraft mods has about double the google-search numbers, despite having four times the potential audience.
            It appears, that a lot of people are interested in minecraft mods, but not many of them actually download any. I think this can be explained with the pocket version. A lot of mobile gamers hear about, google it and then just give up, because it’s too complicated or something. The MCPE-modforum has significantly fewer mods and thread hits than the PC-version.

            The numbers remain in Skyrims favor. Combining all the mods from the forum and the two big sites is barely half the number of Skyrim mods on the Nexus, so I have no clue how you can run out of Skyrim mods, but not Minecraft. Even with a generous one download per five thread-hits estimate the download numbers on the forum combined with two big sites still remain below Skyrim.

            I can’t speak of any personal data, I played Minecraft for 2 hours 5 years ago, didn’t like it and never touched it again.

          • Danley says:

            That’s a fair interpretation, though I’d nitpick a bit about adding a nexus query on top of a mod query, as I still think once you know about Nexus you just go there for everything. But that’s just a nitpick and not a legitimate point. Ultimately, though, there are aspects to Minecraft modding that I wish Skyrim had. Being able to host a modded map that people can jump into in the way that people jump into a Minecraft server could be fantastic. (Think being able to jump into one of the areas from Morrowind/Oblivion. That’s what it’s like to server hop in Minecraft.) I wish rather than Elder Scrolls Online there would have been some kind of multiplayer implementation into Skyrim.

            To synthesize this whole thing, I think I should go look at new Skyrim mods, and I’d recommend you try out some modded Minecraft servers, if not mod your own client.

          • Dread says:

            Well, there is a fundamental difference between Minecraft mostly being a multiplayergame and Skyrim being singleplayer. Jumping into a Skyrim map somebody else without that functionality even being possible. :D
            Though, there have been attempts at making multiplayermods for Skyrim.
            A multiplayer implementation of skyrim is what everybody wanted from TESO, instead we got a badly made mix of WoW and Guild Wars.

            I doubt, I’ll ever play Minecraft again, I neither liked the presentation nor the core gameplay and I don’t think mods can fix that.

          • tygerchylde says:

            Search results, actual use, and downloads do not correlate, ever.
            Since Minecraft’s community has not set up a Nexus-esque site yet, of course mods for Minecraft get searched a lot more. Just because I searched for Minecraft mods doesn’t mean I actually used one.
            I have been a part of the Elder Scrolls modding community since Morrowind. I found the Nexus sites at that point and have never had to search for any ES mods since. I have never searched Skyrim Mods, nor have any of my friends, since we all knew about the Nexus.
            I currently have about 120 active mods for Skyrim, and there are at least 50 more that I have used in the past for various reasons. I have 2 mods for Minecraft, which are just texture replacers, because the others are insane to get working. I cannot even use the primary feature of one of the replacers I got for Minecraft, because it involves some other program that I was forced to search out that is so insanely complicated to get working that one would almost have to be a computer programmer to be able to get it right.
            Minecraft’s modding community is small, scattered, and insanely complicated. It is in no way comparable even to Skyrim’s modding community, much less the entire Elder Scrolls community.

  3. Pich says:

    It’s probably gonna return as a donation button.

    • basilisk says:

      Which is possible, but if I wanted to donate money to a modder, I really don’t know why I should be doing so through Valve.

      • Premium User Badge

        Arnvidr says:


        • jrodman says:

          That would be great if the valve cut was like a processing fee. Maybe 3%.

        • basilisk says:

          Convenience is one thing, but if I want to give the modder $5, PayPal will eat about $0.50 in fees, resulting in $4.50. If I donated $5 using the Workshop split, Valve gets $1.5, Bethesda gets $2.25 and the modder gets $1.25.

          This split is understandable (albeit controversial) if you’re purchasing something, but not if all they’re doing is processing the transaction. As with all donations, I want the largest possible part of my voluntarily given money to make it to the intended recipient and not to middlemen.

          • Nevard says:

            There’s always going to be a (probably substantial) cut directed to the game’s developer with a system of this type unfortunately, simply through the virtue of “I am allowing you to make money from something I own the rights of completely”, it’s the “don’t get slammed with yet greater legal fees” payment.
            Valve’s part in this is more tenuous and certainly demands a lesser cut than the developer but a fee as a service provider will probably stick in some fashion just so that they are getting something out of this.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Given most EULAs I’ve seen forbid making profit from mods, presumably part of that fee is additional licensing to ALLOW you to profit from your mod.

            It’s a great opportunity for the game publisher to get paid twice: everyone involved has to pay for the game, then pay for the fixes for the game.

          • Cinek says:

            Do what I do – PM modder, he will give you paypal or bitcoin, donate, problem solved. Modding scene was always a grey area anyway, so I think you care too much about EULAs.

          • Danley says:

            I think this was the biggest fault of the whole scheme. They were trying to start a mods marketplace with all the (supposed) incentives monetizing things would have, then went and gave most of the incentives to the publisher whose lack of content and features was what led to the mod being created in the first place. This isn’t to say Bethesda didn’t create a great engine, or a friendly toolset that promoted modding in the first place, but many mods aren’t derived from their content whatsoever, and demanding the share they were getting as a kind of licensing fee resembles intellectual property / copyright policing way more than it does offering a platform.

            Take Microsoft as an example (once upon a time). By offering a platform for software development (Windows, .NET, etc), they were ensuring 1) they’d sell more copies of that platform and 2) they’d saturate the workplace with in-house programs that operated on that platform (Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Visual Studio, etc.). They didn’t charge you a subscription fee, and with the exception of fees for branding or support, didn’t demand royalties for developing and selling software that would operate on their platform. Because they knew that if [Print Shop Studio Paintworks 2000++] became popular, but ran on their platform, people were going to have to buy that platform to run it. This is how they became at the time the most successful company in the history of the world (besides the Federal Reserve). That they would come to saturate the market so much that it took people ten years to move past Windows XP might be why they’re going to new licensing/subscription models, not to mention their strategy with creating a gaming marketplace for PC games akin to Steam. But I’d argue these things are in reaction to Apple, Valve, the console market and business school philosophies of eternal growth more than a judgment of how they used to do business.

            I think it’s fair to say there’s some resentment in the gaming community towards modders/indies/crowdfunders that may have led to the backlash that occurred (how dare you get paid to do what you love without going through the university/AAA system!) but I think most of it came from that 45/35 split. Steam gets 30% for the games/software they sell, so it’s only consistent they’d ask for the same cut here. But Bethesda should have gotten 5% or less of the remaining income. Or nothing at all, because that’s what they were getting otherwise, and will be getting if this whole thing ultimately gets scrapped. They’re already getting paid (or already got paid years ago) for the platform, and if they want a bigger cut could have gone into a licensing agreement with the modders or hired them outright to develop first-party DLC. Instead they want none of the overhead or personnel costs, and offer less that an unpaid internship while demanding 64% of the profit from someone else’s work.

            It’s no surprise people who bought their game only to go out and modify it on day one to improve it would rightfully tell them to go stuff themselves.

      • Not_Id says:

        Who would then take a greater cut than the modder. For a mod, for a game that isn’t even Valve’s???

        RPS: Yeah, that’s a great idea. We totally support this.

    • Ansob says:

      It probably won’t; Valve wouldn’t be able to take a 30% cut of donations. Instead, it will probably return via mods for the next Valve game, or a relaxing of the curation conditions for CS:GO skins/Dota 2 cosmetics, and then come back with Fallout 4 or TES6 or whatever the next Bethesda game is.

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      Oakreef says:

      If it returned as a donate button no one would use it.

  4. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    There is some damage done to the community sadly. Several prolific modders are pissed about “shitstain mod users ruining their one chance of making money”. Some removed all their mods from download because of ‘entitled users wanting everything for free’.
    Sadly people who were perfectly happy modding for the fun of it until just a few days ago. I guess dangling of potential wad of cash has that effect on people.

    The market has voted though.

    • wu wei says:

      I guess dangling of potential wad of cash has that effect on people.

      Or, conversely, seeing how little people valued their efforts made them reconsider how much value they themselves placed on that activity.

      • P.Funk says:

        Bullshit. Why is the mod scene entitled if they dislike the scheme but the mod makers aren’t if they yank their shit because things didn’t work out?

        Why aren’t they mad at Valve for doing such a shit job of premiering the scheme?

        Seriously, is the concept of making money so sacrosanct that you can’t be called an asshole for being an asshole about money? This is what happens when you put money into the mix. It makes people into animals.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Dangling the possibility of making a living out of something you enjoy doing then realizing that people expect you to do that on your spare time only while you work another job can be a bit annoying, I guess.

      • Harlander says:

        Certainly, though expecting people to go from getting something for free to having to pay for it without complaint seems a little naive, too. Besides, people (though by no means even most people) will donate to things they like if given the option, but requiring payment changes the way the interaction feels quite significantly.

        I think expecting to make a living out of mods is beyond excessive optimism, too, even if you assume that everyone who’d want to use a mod would be willing to pay for it.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        If people spent hour upon hour making mods and it felt like a job before, they did free-time wrong I think.

        So why has that changed over night? Minor fame, seeing people enjoy your stuff, other peoples making mods you can use, collaboration etc. has worked perfectly fine before but then *BAM* Mod Ragnarök.

        I’ve never actually completed a Bethesda game. I’ve spent more time playing around with the tools making small mods and tweaking other peoples creations than actually playing properly (I’m somewhere between shitstain and modder I guess). I’m absolutely not against modders getting compensated for good stuff if they want to, it’s just tragic to see how toxic the community got so fast because $$$.

      • Cinek says:

        And who told you these lies about making a living from modding? Good 99.99% of modding scene never got a single cent from modding (source: I’m a modder).

        • Danley says:

          But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to.

          The problem with this is not with you or anyone doing the work. It’s everyone who wanted something for nothing even when you weren’t offering it for nothing. If you create mods for free, then they’re free. If you create mods and charge a penny for them, then they’re a penny. Whether or not I want to spend that penny is my choice, but should not dictate whatsoever whether or not you ask for a penny in return. In my trade, I happen to do more volunteer hours than I do billable hours, sometimes performing the exact same service. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to refuse to perform the service if I can’t bill for it. The profitizing of charity in the world is disgusting, but that doesn’t mean we should all become servants just because we can work for free if we want to.

          I don’t believe the community got toxic in a vacuum, either. The community in this case isn’t even the most self-entitled. That’s Bethesda. They’re saying, essentially, if you don’t want to work for free then you have to pay us. In most instances, mods don’t even use the resources they created. Except for the particular way in which ideas were organized, the intellectual kind of property. But they didn’t invent dragons, or swords, or Scandinavian people or first-person video games. They organized them and presented them in a unique way that people were willing to spend £15-50 for. Then other people altered them in a way that made that £15-50 product even more attractive. But every modder had to buy that game, as did every person who wanted to play that game. To entitle themselves to anything more is ludicrous, and takes this beyond the realm of ‘that costs a penny.’ Cause they already got it and now want more for nothing.

    • jrodman says:

      I feel like a good chunk of this is externalizing rewards.

      People do something because they enjoy it. Then you tell them “If you do this I will give you 5 dollars” and they think “only 5 dollars? Fuck that.” and they stop doing it.

      • mgardner says:

        You got it! I just finished a book describing how money can be a demotivator. It’s a surprising side of human psychology, but there have been multiple studies like this showing the same result – many people who enjoy an activity willingly do it free; when they start getting rewarded for an activity, there may be an initial performance spike but very often productivity goes way down in the long term. Source: “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us” by Daniel Pink.

        • DanMan says:

          Yeah, he has some good points.

          link to

        • Danley says:

          These don’t actually have to do with the matter of fair exchange, which is a philosophical foundation of monetary systems without which money has no value. I’m going to reiterate something I’ve already said upthread, but I feel like it’s worth repeating.

          If I do something for you, I should be in control of that act. If I choose to do it out of charity, then I am choosing to and should expect nothing in return, but if I suddenly no longer want to do it for charity, then I should still be able to refuse to do it for any reason — even if the basis for my refusing is that you did not want to pay me for it. Charity does not make my work yours from that point forward. Other people’s charity certainly does not make my work yours. This is why another modder might get upset to the point they stop modding and it has nothing to do with ‘I got $5 and now I want more.’

          Money is supposed to be nothing more than something I can accept in exchange for my choice to do work. This becomes murky because we live in a world where the richest people got that way off the work of others, but were able to convince enough people that this kind of exploitation was legitimate. It’s why most people’s bosses can be asses even though they’re getting screwed as much as the people they’re managing. Try buying a house in London and you’ll find the cost has very little to do with buying a house in London. If we didn’t justify widespread theft at the highest levels, people wouldn’t be struggling anyway and wouldn’t be so bothered when their neighbor suddenly wants something in exchange for the saddle mod they spent the last two weeks creating. That we find fault with her but find no fault with Bethesda for demanding she work for their profit only supports the fact that our global model of theft has brainwashed us.

          Here’s another example of people telling you ‘Yes money corrupts …so you should give me your money.’ You can’t sell your blood, because people used to sell blood even if they had a disease simply because they needed the money. But the minute you donate it it will be sold on a billion dollar marketplace. link to

          • jrodman says:

            I didn’t say five dollars made people want more, I said the prospect of getting 5 dollars made them view the whole activity differently. Perhaps 5 dollars is an insultingly small amount of money in an objective sense. Perhaps any amount of money would be a turn-off.

    • Blackcompany says:

      And i cannot blame them.

      TES has some great modders.

      It also has some of the most poisonous, spoiled, entitled mod users on the internet. They never thank. They never express gratitude. The majority of them just make ever increasing demands – not requests; demands – of modders. They are rude and entitled and the host sites do little to contain the problem.

      I wont share the (admittedly modest) mods I make to tweak Skyrim. I dont want the demands for patches, merges, more tweaks and “fixes” I dont need. I dont want accusations of ‘you broke my game’ when, no, I didnt. So yeah…I cant blame the mod makers for taking down their mods. You reap what you sow and that “community” (which mataphorically resembles that one level on Dark Souls 2 where you run through all the poison spitters) is basically reaping now.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        If the users are so unmitigatedly horrible and entitled I wonder what author would think it would be a good idea to take their money.

        • Derppy says:

          If a hundred people demanded you fix a bug in a mod you gave them for free and called you lazy when it’s taking time, would you feel happy to hurry up and work on the fix?

          How about if they paid you for it and updating the mod caused even more people to buy it?

          While Gabe got thousands of downvotes and upset a lot of people by saying it out loud, money does steer development. Some can stay surprisingly motived on occasional thanks alone, but that will never tap to their full potential as developers. It’s hard to keep giving people what they want when you don’t receive any real compensation for your time.

          And lets be honest, very few people have ever donated to modders. The mods are still so valuable to these people they’d find the cash to pay for them if the developers could charge them, but they can’t without being sued by Bethesda.

          • Distec says:

            I’m sorry, but expecting to be compensated and “tap into your full potential is a developer” are colossally misguided aims when you go into free mod making. I get that the “community” can be a pack of rats, but views like this seem completely blinkered to me as well.

            If you don’t like the craft and you feel you’re getting cheated in what is arguably a free-time endeavor, then you’re doing it wrong.

      • jrodman says:

        The Free Software world has some of this too. I know i’ve played both roles.

    • SaintAn says:

      Hope those modders quit for good. They’re not wanted. Modding has never been about making money and it never should be. If they don’t like that then they should quit, because they shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. Obviously they’re not even good enough to get a job at a game company, and their work wasn’t good enough to make money through donations, or if it was getting donations they sure aren’t grateful about it and are just entitled brats willing to fuck up PC gaming because they’re greedy and donations aren’t good enough for them. Glad we were able to find out who the pieces of crap are, now the Nexus needs to ban them all, their mods are already saved online at other places so no loss.

      • Shurik7n says:

        Are you for real? I actually knew very little about the modding community per se before this whole episode, but your comment embodies perfectly what i just found out to be one of the most toxic communities in… anything. It’s like (most) mod consumers live in a parallel universe where work has no value whatsoever and if you feel you should be compensated for it, you are “self-entitled brats”. I can’t even begin to argue with this point of view since it’s just devoid of any kind of logic. I guess Valve’s attempt at taking over the world by monetizing mods at least helped to shed some light on what kind of people we’re dealing with here, and it’s definitely not pretty. On the other hand modders gained my utmost respect, if anything for putting up with this kind of madness.

        • Emeraude says:

          Are you for real? I actually knew very little about the modding community per se before this whole episode, but your comment embodies perfectly what i just found out to be one of the most toxic communities in… anything.

          It’s called humanity. You’ll find it’s really hard to live with one another. And we can’t do otherwise very well either.

        • Urthman says:

          SaintAn is just saying that we have a community of people who make stuff for fun and share it. If you barge in and say, “Look how great my stuff is, you should pay me for it. What? You no pay? You’re all entitled jerks!” then the people who are there to make stuff for fun and share it with each other are going to rightfully tell you to piss off.

          • Shurik7n says:

            Well yes of course if the modder IS doing it for fun and wants to give it away for free, nothing against that. But should we really expect all mods to be free? I’m having a hard time understanding why the mod consumers assume that mods shouldn’t ever be sold. The only argument i’ve heard until now is: “It has always been like that so it should stay like that.” Which isn’t really a valid one now is it? Taking your own words what about the consumers barging in and going: “Hey you want me to actually pay for your work? You’re an entitled jerk!” Which is exactly what is happening and the reason some of the modders are walking away from it.

          • Emeraude says:


            Red the threads then. You’ll find the arguments.

          • P.Funk says:

            Mods that were previously free were payware for a matter of days and suddenly it becomes some bullshit about fair pay for fair work?

            Maybe if the mods were made entirely under the regime of paid mods they’d have an argument but you can’t take your free stuff, stick a price tag on it, then act all self righteous about getting paid for your spare time. Its not like when they started making it there was this prospect of money.

            Fucking ridiculous, just regurgitate the liberal capitalist talking points and utterly ignore the nuances of the current situation.

          • jrodman says:

            I am always so disoriented when the word liberal comes up in politics in transoceanic conversations.

    • Reapy says:

      Lots of issues how they sprung this. I recall reading/watching a very good point about the modding in Arma 3 and the recent contest they had to pay out $$ for winning mods. The point was that the mod community was ultimately harmed by this because the sharing went down to 0, there was no point in developing common libraries or even explaining clever techniques because the possibility someone else could use it to win.

      This is exactly what happened with the first mod mishap. The guy who did the animation system was thinking in his head that this other dude making use of his work was about to start raking in a ton of cash on it and got frustrated, where as something less tangible, like a ton of downloads, would be much less of a problem.

      The other issue is licensing. They gave people no time to implement the correct creative commons license for their work. When you enter a ‘for pay’ environment, its important that everything is clear in terms of derivative work, open sourcing, and crediting etc, which are well defined in those various license… but they seemed to have given the mod community no time to shake all of that out.

      Also the 75% / 25% split sucks, really, should be the other way around.

      Lots of mistakes, but I also like the door open for modders to be able to make money, just, it’s probably going to not really work out in the wild unless the modders allowed to sell things are carefully curated.

  5. melnificent says:

    Maybe the fact that most Paid mods had DMCA and copyright claims on them caused a re-evaluation of the cost to steam in terms of administering the system.
    Allowing people to take the mods from Nexus and elsewhere and sell them on steam as their own was always going to happen. Coupled with marketplace bans for 7 days if you ask for a refund and interdependencies with free mods. The legal implications of selling goods without warranty (which is what they were doing) and it was never going to end well.

    I’d like to think they took legal advice and it was just bad, but some of the problems with the system ignored everything.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      How did they not consider things like support, theft, warranty and liability before hand? What a fuck up.

      • nrvsNRG says:


      • Baines says:

        First, it was Valve. They don’t think through *anything* before they implement it.

        Second, it was Valve. They act like they function in some separate perfect world.

        Third, it was Valve. They had a refund system that gave you a 7 day suspension if you used it, and didn’t even see that as a problem.

        • commentingaccount says:

          I was saying that all fucking weekend to people I knew, haha. Well done, Baines.

        • Emeraude says:

          Yeah, I do hope at least this acted for many as a cold shower making them reconsider Valve’s competency.
          These are the people to whom you gave the keys to the PC market.

  6. Mungrul says:

    I’m also guessing that in the background, Bethesda’s legal team are wringing their hands in glee.
    Always litigious, they surely relish the idea of being able to squeeze Valve for a share of the money mod makers might earn.

    I think this is probably why Valve have so hastily withdrawn this initiative. As many people have rightly pointed out, once you monetise mods, you’re stepping into a whole world of intellectual property infringement hurt.
    Let alone the original developers of a game potentially having a claim, there are many, many mods that are “homages” to other intellectual properties.

    It’s a legal nightmare.

    • balinor says:

      Uh? Bethesda were already taking a share, in fact the lions share from the mod sales.

      • balinor says:

        Gah switch to Disqus already RPS this comment system is fucking shite.

  7. Skrallex says:

    I had 2 main problems with paid mods, but both of them are pretty much a result of mods previously NOT being paid for. The biggest issue for me was that I often go through many, many mods when searching for ones that I like. The games I have messed around with mods the most are undoubtedly Skyrim, Minecraft, the Farming Simulator series, and some GTA IV. I like mods that don’t detract from the feel of the game, rather extend it. There are so, so many mods for each of those games that are lazily done or don’t fit in, or are just plain bad. Having the freedom to try many mods until I find some I like is what makes modding great. I would gladly pay a small fee once I have decided that I will stick with a certain mod because I like it.

    The second issue is similar to the first. In this imgur album (link to, the quality of those Skyrim mods chosen to be paid mods is investigated, and it’s exactly the reason paid mods won’t work with existing mods without a lot of work. There needs to be incentive for those modders to bring their work to a standard that people can be expected to pay for, rather than just saying “Hey you have a mod and some people like it, let’s make them pay real money for it regardless of the quality!”.

    I can only see paid mods working in one way: They need to be large, high quality mods where bugs are actively squashed, the modders cooperate with players to improve the mod, and they need to have some sort of trial. Taking the word of a modder (or even other players) that the mod is great is simply not good enough. These are products they have up for sale, they should at least act like they are selling a proper product now. If they can’t commit to that, make it a free mod and no one can complain.

  8. Christo4 says:

    It’s for the best imo.
    If people want to be as successful, money-wise as dota, counter strike, dayz wtc. then they can just release proper games as well! Since those mods weren’t monetized when they were exactly that, mods.
    Mods = voluntary work.

    • Gnoupi says:

      “Release a proper game” does not involve the same work as making a mod.

      Making a mod has the advantage of basis upon an existing engine, on which you can implement your design vision (visual or game design). Making a game from the beginning is an entire beast completely, even when using a framework like Unity or UDK.

      That’s why you see so many attempts at “making a standalone game from a mod” falling flat, because the creators have suddenly to deal with areas of programming they didn’t necessarily know. Often you see such attempts being clusters of bugs or unoptimized messes, and making a commercial flop with people saying they liked the mod better anyway, leaving the creators without a way to support themselves.

      • Christo4 says:

        Hey, if i do some internship/volunteer work, doesn’t mean i’m ready to be the manager.

  9. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    It wasn’t a bad idea in principle, but the whole thievery of mods thing wasn’t exactly great, nor was the way people jumped on the bandwagon (DOTA2/CSGO item creators that had never modded Skyrim before jumping in and creating weapon skins for Skyrim). Strangely enough it’s probably the second one that really gets to me, the point of all this was to help people that loved to mod those games, but if mod marketplaces fill up with hat sellers then that could strangle a game’s modding scene just as much.

  10. Not_Id says:

    I still can’t believe that Valve were charging for mods, and I still can’t believe that RPS and fucking Eurogamer supported that crap. Have some balls guys, don’t fucking sit on the fence ffs.

    Yesterday was a bad day for RPS. Graham posted an article that was ALL about the support that payed mods was getting. Totally one-sided Graham. Well done on that.

    And as mentioned elsewhere, Valve should’ve just put up a donate button and left it at that.

    • Nevard says:

      It was all about the pros of paid mods yes… if you didn’t notice and click the “view page 2” button.

      • Nevard says:

        Ah wait I am confusing that for a different article. I still think this is an illegitimate complaint though, as they had already posted their list of reasons why it was a bad idea and reporting on the opinions of other involved persons is… news.

        • Not_Id says:

          link to

          One-sided bollocks ^

          • Nevard says:

            Comments from the owner of Valve and the owner of the biggest Paid Mod on Steam.
            NEWS. Relevant News. With a link to RPS’s article about Their opinions right at the top.

            Reporting on this stuff is what the site is for. Repeating themselves isn’t.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            Did you even read the headline? RPS made no claim that article was going to be a balanced view of all sides of the issue, it was ‘two industry guys speak in favour of mods’.

          • Baines says:

            I think some people were a bit upset with the final line of the first paragraph: “I’ve gathered the most pertinent Internet Opinions below.

            Which was followed by Gabe Newell, onefmp, and Garry Newman praising paid mods.

            Or maybe it was what Graham chose to say and failed to say. He injected some personal opinion and analysis, but raised no eyebrow at Gabe Newell’s quote about money steering the community, which had upset people because the community had been going along quite well before Gabe jumped in promising handfuls of cash. It was Graham, not Garry Newman, who described Newman’s opinion as people over-reacting.

          • Cinek says:

            Just google. Reddit. Or something. And you can find tons of opinions from modders that despise what Valve is doing. They single-handedly managed to fuck up entire community of modders and users in a day.

    • Gnoupi says:

      “Damn those bloody mod makers trying to earn money from what they do. Mod making should be charity work!”

      What I hear since this whole mod situation started, and it’s sad.

      • Orageon says:

        Nonsense. The real problem is Valve and Bethesda suddenly asking for 75% of the potential worth of a mod, while not doing anything new or special… just scrapping some bucks off the back of mod makers. The carrot ? the mod makers gets a wee bit of money too, despite being the one doing all the work.
        Plus, there’s no guarantee about the quality of the mod, the bugs, or the compatibility chaos that could break other (paid too ?) mods… and you can’t even try it before hand…
        This was doomed from the start, relying on some modders’ greed and effort to screw not only them but of course the community, all while not spending anything regarding quality or compatibility : just effortless new revenue for Valve and Bethesda….

        What a bloody joke, no wonder they received flak. They deserved that salvo real good.

        If they really are, in fact, thinking dearly about their top modders and want them to be paid for their efforts (if any of us ever believed that was the prime reason… yeah right), why don’t they hire them with short terms contracts over mods ? Why don’t they lend them their numbers for testing and debugging and then commit together to bring quality paid content ? Some modders-made DLC expansions for example, like some of the most impressive modders have done already.

        Maybe modders don’t get as much as they should from donations, for the work that some mods represent. But that’s mostly because this never started as a business / money thing, but as catering for games we love, and scratching that creativity itch, social recognition, etc…
        this shameless move of trying to get the mods’ money by appealing to some modders’ greed would eventually destroy modding as we know it. Matches well with the “F2P + cash DLC Shop” trend.

        Once again, blame capitalism : growth is always required by investors ! New ways to make money need to be found ! all the time !!. And then we get crap like this. Good lord…

        • Horg says:

          ”The real problem is Valve and Bethesda suddenly asking for 75% of the potential worth of a mod, while not doing anything new or special…”

          Monopoly Tax. Pay up, peasant.

      • fitzroy_doll says:

        The same thing happens in other industries: link to

        • fitzroy_doll says:

          To clarify: this is an essay describing the expectation that people who do creative work should do so for free, because it’s their lifestyle, not their job. It’s a significant point, because, against all other trends, we were about to have a situation in which two companies (Valve and Bethesda) were about to make it possible to change this, but the users of the product vetoed the idea quite vocally. Disappointing really.

          • Harlander says:

            If the users vetoed it, it wasn’t exactly ‘about to make it possible’, was it?

          • fitzroy_doll says:

            Yes, the “community” has certainly shown its colours.

          • Titler says:

            Part 1:

            ” It’s a significant point, because, against all other trends, we were about to have a situation in which two companies (Valve and Bethesda) were about to make it possible to change this, but the users of the product vetoed the idea quite vocally. Disappointing really.”

            No, that’s not what they were changing, it’s what they thought they might change, but the reality is they would end up killing their own modding scenes, because the free sharing of ideas is the very reason why it worked in the first place. They’d be “Kicking Away The Ladder” rather than helping people up it.

            Have you ever done any modding? I have in the past, and have also worked on a major MMO as a paid employee since, so I’ve seen both sides of the potential income stream; both have their own issues of course, but the main difference is this…

            As a paid employee I had access to both the development staff and all of their internal resources. I won’t say I also had training because to be quite frank, the software industry is hopelessly ego-ridden and shoe-string run and frankly you’re largely replaceable because if you wont work harder, a million other people desperate to get into the industry are lined up behind you who will. But at least you have access to the tools officially. And can ask how to use them as part of your job.

            As a modder though, you’re unlikely to be working in the industry or even, if you plan to make a serious mod, working at all if you have time to actually do it. So the tools you get are what you find online for free. The knowledge you gain is given to you for free. Any assets you use are donated for free because you’re all in it together, not competing…

            No let’s talk specifics for my DoW Mod. How was it made? Relic released the level mapping editor for free, on the assumption we wouldn’t charge for the results. I sat down and learned how basic map design worked; a lot of the textures didn’t fit my needs, so I then learned .DDS coding with the GIMP (free) and a plugin I found online (also free). I had a larger idea of the mission wave structure, AI operated heavy artillery, unique fog of war design… but it wasn’t possible via the editor itself. So I asked on the forums (free) for people who could SCAR code. A chap called Incarnate came forward and volunteered his time and knowledge, only requesting equal credit which I was glad to give of course. Why wouldn’t I? I couldn’t do it without him! We would discuss things we both couldn’t do on the Relic Forums with others who also offered advice (for free). One of my other maps was rolled into the Grot Mod, which I was happy to donate for the shared love of Grots. And the publishers of the Winter Assault expansion in Poland (of all places) contacted some of the owners of the better mods, including us, and requested they be distributed with the game… No reward, indeed I never owned a copy of that national release to even see it. But it was done again in the idea of free love of the game on both sides of the market.

            Of course, if paid for modding for Dawn of War went live on Steam, I could now sell the completed map; it’s easy enough to prove it’s mine, despite it now being scattered across the internet and hosted all over the place; I have the same registration address at the Relic forums as I do here. I might even track down the other contributor and give him his financial cut, if I felt like it. I’ve got the completed work, so why shouldn’t I profit from it eh?

          • Titler says:

            Part 2:

            But let’s run that again, this time in a paid for situation.

            Firstly, if any free modding tools are released, the Open Source license isn’t going to be there. It’s going to demand it’s cut, or even outright ownership of any resulting creations, even if the actual tools are free. That might not be an issue if you still want to create, but you will find a chilling effect on original games sales in the first place; compare DoW1 to DoW2, which was much harder to mod, and was one reason it wasn’t quite as successful (as well as being a poor knock off of the emerging MOBA trend, which didn’t fit with the audience of the first game who were RTS players, but that’s another argument for another time).
            So now you go into the scene looking to make a profit; Are the forums going to allow you to use them to advertise for paid for products? Let’s say they do. Now everyone else in the community is going to want to know what cut of the gross they’ll get. And how they can secure it if you drift apart over the years. Before you even get over the first hurdle you’ll be negotiating contracts and talking dollars with others. How many people who want to create actual art also love being a cut throat trader?
            Meanwhile not only is everyone now watching like a hawk who is using their products… why should they offer theirs to you? They’re building up their own competitors now, instead of sharing around free love. In our map, we hit a bug with the automated artillery which a bit of lateral thinking solved; why should we tell you how, if people then put it in their maps and take sales from us? Why would I give my map to a larger mod, if the people who register that mod get paid and no one ever downloads my actual map because they have it through them?
            So then the publishers in Poland get in touch. Sure, they could make the same offer again; or maybe not depending on what their lawyers now tell them about taking something which, in the game’s original editor, already belongs to them. But why should you take the offer though if you can leave it on Steam and earn money for yourself that way?

            Again though, I made my map when it cost me nothing to do so. I’ve made it now. I could cash in now, just like the Skyrim modders could, having already done the work when it was free too. Just like TotalBiscuit made a career just talking whilst he played content made by others, on YouTube which is built on free content submitted by others, and now he can make videos saying he wants authors to be paid .. of course he does too, he’s made it now too. He’s got huge name recognition now, he’ll be ok.

            Individuals might get lucky, but the scene as a whole will be much, much less healthy. And much as people like to delude themselves that they’re millionaires-to-be, for every 1 in a million, 999,999 others fail. Odds are clearly you’ll be one of them. And they’ll be getting worse, because we’ll be pulling the ladder up after us. You won’t have anywhere near the favorable market we did when we started out. Our yesterday isn’t the same as your tomorrow.

            THAT’S what the Steam decision was really going to do. Flood the market with scamming rubbish, drive most of the sensitive, decent types out, and possibly make a bit of money for a few aggressive mega-egos who were determined and phenomenally lucky on top of that. But the underlying community which brought you the good mods would have been fatally wounded. No more trying mods and then just uninstalling them if you don’t like it. No more making your own if someone hadn’t already tried, or picking up their code and finishing it if they couldn’t…

            Would it have all been doom and gloom? No, just like getting a job in the industry wasn’t all that much fun either. But it would have been much, much worse. You’re disappointed in the “community” for not giving in to the Republican, Objectivist myth that allowing people to profit would automatically make things better? That’s because the creators themselves, in general, know great art doesn’t come from greed. Insane self belief maybe, but not letting the suits set the terms of discussion right from the start. You’ll always get a few who do actually want to pull the ladder up behind them, but if the majority things differently… maybe it’s you that’s wrong, not them eh?

            As one of “them”, I absolutely believe you are wrong. And Valve seems to be realizing it now too.

          • Emeraude says:


            Thanks a lot for those posts, I’ve wanted to do something similar for a couple of days, but I’m just too awfully verbose to make the end result bearable.
            Nice to have that there now.

            Good reminder.

          • jonahcutter says:


            Excellent post Titler, and really lays it open to the bone. One potential disagreement though…

            Valve may not be realizing it too. They may be simply re-entrenching for another go.

          • joa says:

            The problem is that these “artistic” jobs are largely ego-driven. And because of that there’s always going to be people who are willing to work for less or nothing, because their work will still be out there and their ego will be satisfied — they will have their byline on an article or there name to a song.

            If they’re willing to do their work because all they are interested in is the fame that goes with it, then that’s their right surely?

          • Laurentius says:


            You are so right.

            “THAT’S what the Steam decision was really going to do. Flood the market with scamming rubbish, drive most of the sensitive, decent types out, and possibly make a bit of money for a few aggressive mega-egos who were determined and phenomenally lucky on top of that. But the underlying community which brought you the good mods would have been fatally wounded. No more trying mods and then just uninstalling them if you don’t like it. No more making your own if someone hadn’t already tried, or picking up their code and finishing it if they couldn’t…”

            Bringing money and market values to modding scene will hurt modding as we know it, there’s no going around this. Many modding endeavours required: sharing, joy and fun as a reward to even to be planted as a seed in minds of the modders. Monetization of modding scene is sad thing, grip of corporationism grows tighter and Valve is one of these leading onslaught. Also seeing people worrying about poor corporations “bleeding thier hard earned cash” and jumping to defend them is absulutely depressing.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        funny, what I’ve mainly been hearing is “Modders getting paid is a great idea. I am worried about the wider implications”

        • SanguineAngel says:

          bah, wish I could edit. That should read “worried about the wider implications of this implementation”

      • BobbyDylan says:

        Then reading comprehension isn’t your strong suite.

        What’s next, paying to watch a Youtube Lets-play, when the dev gets 75% of my fee?

        • Askis says:

          That’s close to what Nintendo has been forcing on Youtubers, so yup, that’s happening.
          You’re not actively paying to watch the LP of course, but a major cut of the ad revenue, which is a Youtubers primary source of income, either goes to Nintendo or they just claim videos so the content creators get nothing.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        What’s sad, is all the animosity this has caused in the gaming community. It was a hasty and badly executed idea, and RPS’s neutrality was clearly just support of this bad idea. Shame you can’t admit that.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Given that it happened so quickly, I doubt the hive mind had time to form full consensus beyond initial impressions.

          You said it yourself, they were neutral – the explicitly produced an exploratory article looking at pros and cons and indicated that time would be required to form a firm stance.

        • SuicideKing says:

          RPS did post one article that was balanced and neutral, and the second that was sorta one-sided, yes. I do think that they’ve been trying to be as cautious as possible about the whole thing, because they sort of have more weight than we do making comments here.

          So they can’t just scream “FUCK BETHESDA, FUCK VALVE” like we can.

      • Bookbuster says:

        Modding, like many other types of fan works, has existed primarily as a gift economy. That is, goods and serrvices were provided to a community with the only expectation of reward from all parties being social credit. The reward for creating an awesome mod is that the people who use it tell you that the mod is awesome, and tell other people that the mod is awesome and you are an awesome mod maker, and maybe even make your mod part of their own work, with credit. You might ask for donations, but you wouldn’t expect every user to donate. Donations, you see, are a gift back to you.

        Introducing a *requirement* for money to change hands changes it from a gift economy to a market economy, and the two types of economy are fundamentally different, and have different expectations placed on producers and consumers. In essence, it creates strong, formal obligation where previously obligations were light, or even non-existent. There is suddenly not only obligation on the part of the consumer to *pay*, but there is an obligation on the producer to *provide*.

        That’s not say that a market economy for mods is a bad thing, necessarily. It’s just a very different economy to the one the community is currently built around, and the community surrounding a market based economy will by necessity take a very shape to the one currently. It’s not unreasonable to expect that people will object to that kind of change, especially if it leads to the creation of obligations where there previously wasn’t any.

  11. Greg Wild says:

    I hope they keep experimenting with this. I think it was a misfire, but a worthwhile experiment none-the-less. Using a game with such an established free community was probably a mistake. I think part of the problem is that they suddenly put a paywall up in front of content that was previously free. Better to start from scratch. Probably with one of their own games, too.

  12. wu wei says:

    I look forward to hearing about the spike in donations that modders will get as a result of this.

    Ahahahaha, it’ll never happen. The “donate only or it’ll destroy the community” arguments were always such obvious bullshit.

    • Harlander says:

      The community wasn’t destroyed, but it’s certainly been through a bit of a spasm….

      • wu wei says:

        Isn’t “gaming community spasms” commonly known as Tuesday?

        • Harlander says:

          Well, yeah. I mean, for the mod community it was a sudden, dramatic examination of their own motivations and that of the mod users.

          But you’re right. For me it was Tuesday.

    • Emeraude says:

      The very fact that you’re thinking this hints yet again at you missing the whole point: why would there even be a donation spike ?

  13. Incanus says:

    I have a suggestion: let Steam PAY the modders or at least the modders for which community vote.

    They are sitting on a MOUNTAIN of money. Let’s give a bit back if they really want to “see good mods happens”.

    I don’t believe one second in their good will towards the community or any PR crap they are wrapping. Steam is a corporation, they are here first and foremost to make money and they are in a quasi monopolistic position.

    They are bound, if let free, to do anything they want, if that help them can keep their dominant position and make more money.

    They would have take a fair share on the payed mods if that was happening but try to present themselves like philantropist…

    Well, no need to be cynic to see that a corpo is a corpo. Do you think Mercedes, Barnes and Nobles or Walmartt do things because they “think this would result in better for everyone, both free & paid”…Why in the world of video games, things should be different (well i wish it would, but it isn’t).

    What i find worst than anything is that the press seems to be mainly a chamber of echo for the PR stunt of Steam and their com. Would a bit of analysis, critic spirit, or anything, too much to ask? And by that i don’t mean “let’s present the supposed two sides of the equation, which are perfectly equal”.

  14. Bull0 says:

    How high are your standards if you’re referring to something as breathtaking as vanilla Skyrim as “a bit of a shambles”? Boo, boo I say

    • fish99 says:

      Agree, vanilla Skyrim is a superb game and let’s not forget RPS gave it their 2011 GOTY award before it had masses of mods (6 weeks after release).

    • neofit says:

      If you mix a great game with a horrific interface (or, in more technical terms, ” designed by a retard”), you do get “a bit of a shambles”. Of did you mod it in the first week and forgot?

      • fish99 says:

        I’ve played 500hrs of Skyrim with the default UI. Sure it looks bad at first sight, but within a few hours of actually playing the game you just don’t notice it anymore and it doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the game. Certainly doesn’t make the game a bit of a shambles imo.

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:


      Or any PC RPG of the last three decades, excluding Bioware’s recent output.

  15. JohnH says:

    First they need to implement some sort of Q&A for the paid mods for this to have even a remote chance of working.

    THEN they need to fix their revenue model, the current model they tried out was a poorly disguised moneygrabbing scheme. Imho the modder should get at least a 50% cut. Then Valve and the game devs can fight over the remaining cut for all I care. Just pay the modder a proper share instead of using this so-called community service to rip everybody off.

  16. AngoraFish says:

    So probably expect to see the idea return at some point.

    Or not.

    Valve’s individualistic hacker-culture means that it’s much more likely to give up and move onto the next brain-vomit idea instead of iterating on its current one in order to get closer to something that’s actually useful.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Depends if they can still smell money.

    • pepperfez says:

      This scheme is like a pure manifestation of individualist hacker culture, though. I’m sure a lot of people at Valve are, independent of business concerns, very fond of it on an ideological level.

  17. Ejia says:

    I feel like there should be an ominous ellipsis after the word mods in that headline.

    In any case, they should’ve just done a 30/30/40 Valve/Bethesda/Modder split. However, I would have a bit of a wobble if, say, the folks behind the USKP started charging. Sure, I think they should get a wee bit of money their way for all that spraying about with the insecticide, but I don’t want to and shouldn’t have to pay extra for bugs that should have been fixed by Bethesda themselves in the first place.

    Oh, Bethesda fixing bugs! That’s a lovely little dream.

  18. Ooops says:

    I’m very happy.

    Not because I want mods to be free (a tiny minority is probably worth shelling some money for), but because I’m becoming increasingly fearful of Valve’s quasi-monopoly on the PC gaming market. PC gaming is becoming about as open as the PSN network (read: not at all). The mod scene was one of the only PC-specific stuff that could live outside their all-encompassing Steam.

    We need less things attached to DRM, not more, even if it’s DRM as sweetly coated and as cleverly disguised as Steam.

    • Not_Id says:

      But just look at what we could’ve payed for: link to

    • pepperfez says:

      There was a sure-to-be-transient surge of “I’m done with Steam forever!” posts on the GoG forum, so at least a few people are feeling the same way right now. I doubt it lasts for long, but we can all hope.

  19. wyrm4701 says:

    This is guaranteed to return with the next Bethesda game, who will do their utmost to lock modding into the Steam Workshop. Valve will use oblique references to this previous iteration as proof of lessons learned, and as an unspoken cautionary example to the mod community of what could have been.

    I’m relieved they’re backtracking on this implementation, but I don’t think it bodes well for fans of Bethesda games and modding through Steam Workshop. This was handled in such a cartoonishly inept way that I find it hard to believe it’s not part of a longer game, at least for Valve. At least, I hope it is, because the alternative is that I’ve put a lot of money into a service run by people who make spectacularly bad decisions. Either way, I think I’ll hold off giving them any more money until they manage to fix some fundamental issues with their service.

  20. nrvsNRG says:

    “it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.”
    “we realized we would loose more money from bad PR”

  21. quarpec says:

    lol if people believe valve and bethesda was into this for any other reason than that money makes them rock hard

    monetizing the mod community is the worst possible thing to happen, and it’ll completely fuck over whatever sparse cooperation and tool sharing that exists in an already overly toxic community

    • Emeraude says:

      Actually, I’m not convinced Bethesda were in it as much for the money as for the control. The money is nice yes, but the control is better… in no small part because, yes, it will bring money in the long run, but that’s not all it brings.

      Transforming the modding community into a cheap labor force whose work you can get in or out the market depending on you needs ? Beats direct monetary incentive – though it is part of the appeal.

      • wyrm4701 says:

        Yes, this would be a likely part of the benefit Bethesda saw in the system. As for Valve, I expect they were in part trying to prevent some of the issues they found when they bought the DOTA license. Maybe the theory was that by making revenue a possibility for mod teams, right at the outset, might prevent later acrimony. I’m guessing the original DOTA team didn’t consider anything close to the wild success their work achieved. At the very least, it’d provide Valve with a legal framework to deal with future mod teams, though whether that’s to the benefit of the team is anyone’s guess.

      • pepperfez says:

        This is 100% correct, and in general I think people drastically underestimate the value attached to control as an abstract good, untied to direct profit, in business decisions..

  22. Fushigi says:

    Modmakers should be paid by publishers, not players. Mods is the main reason for extra+++ longevity of many games, including Skyrim (e.g. sales, e.g. hard cash for publisher). So it’s obviously beneficial for publishers to nurture modding community, to encourage players using mods. They want players to care about game’s longevity and to pay for work companies themselves should pay? No way jose. Of course it was a brilliant idea, whichever lowly employee devised it…

  23. Kempston Wiggler says:

    1. I don’t want corporations dictating how much of a percentage modders get paid. Valve are nothing but money-obsessed. There was a time they made games for the sake of making games (Half Life 1, Team Fortress) but ever since HL2 and Steam they’ve been obsessed with finding new ways to open wallets.
    1 (b). I’d have preferred a donation button leading directly to the modder’s bank account but users under no obligation to use it.
    2. Once you start throwing money at modders you open the floodgates to the kind of torrents of half-baked or outright scamming shit you see in the mobile App stores, Greenlight and Early Access. Good mods would get lost in the noise.
    3. I don’t want modding controlled by Steam any more than I wanted games being controlled by Steam. To much consolidation is good for no-one.

  24. Not_Id says:

    “Any bets on when paid mods will return to Steam, and with which game?”

    Ok Alice, lets say Valve tries again with pmods for DOOM 4, and someone makes a CoD weapons mod for it, using assets from the CoD games: Does Activision get a cut?

  25. theirongiant says:

    we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are.

    There’s also the small matter of the 75% we were getting off the top but of course that never entered our minds.

  26. Lanessar says:

    Having been involved with Neverwinter Nights, NWN2 and Skyrim modding – this was not going to end well. There are some intrinsic differences between Skyrim modding and HL2 mods, Arma Mods.

    First – modding on the scale of Skyrim requires collaboration. Often, you can’t have just one or two mods – you require a number of mods to make other mods work. Many are fluff, but the last time I modded Skyrim, there were about twenty mods needed to set up a decent framework that you could then add other mods to.

    Without those, you were limited to fluff “texture” mods – these twenty mods set up the framework for revised and improved engine behavior. Without collaboration between the mod-makers, this wouldn’t exist. And when money gets involved, all of a sudden the mod-makers get really stingy on “help”, I’ve noticed. The mod-making (not “modders”) start getting really upset if someone uses a piece of their framework to do something else.

    Then there is what I consider the key, underlying problem. Bethesda released a mediocre game with a good engine to fix the problems. As I recall, there were five community-made patches just to get the base game to work, not to mention SkyUI and the other key changes to make the game playable on PC.

    This is where this system falls apart. With NWN, at least you had an engine that basically worked, and was patched and corrected by Bioware. Features were added for the modders and PW scene. Almost all of our work was purely functionality (adding Archmage as a class, new monsters, changing spell behavior to match PnP or to actually work in a level-scaled environment). They were, for the most part, not “fixes” to broken game engine behavior, especially not 3 years after release.

    This was very different from Skyrim’s mods in one respect:

    Bethesda still hasn’t corrected many of the basic game engine issues – case in point, the memory stack address being limited to 256MB for the first stack. Very bad engine error, eventually patched by Sheeshon (with great difficulty). That memory stack issue basically caused instability where large amounts of assets, NPCs, or textures were put into play. It’s a basic engine error, and to charge for it or make profit off of your buggy software… well, that seems reprehensible.

    Why not just patch it and charge users for each patch?

    Anyhow, Bethesda’s laxity in addressing some of these issues (and subsequently getting corrected by the community) is the dynamic that sort of prevents “paid mods” in this context from working. The context does work for additional content (say, Falskaar), but not for fixing mechanics which were borked out of the gate.

    • Lacero says:

      Right, but even in NWN you still had tons of systems like dynamic monster spawning and the AI replacements. And of course the SQL db connection.

      If you charge for your Persistent World how much do you pass on to these people? The SQL guys especially basically made PWs possible. If it’s just donations you can kinda fudge it, especially when the amounts are so low you can just pay for server time. Once it’s an upfront fee the whole community drastically changes.

      Skyrim is even worse as you say.

      • Lanessar says:

        I’m a little confused by your comment, but I generally agree. The SQL guys didn’t make PWs possible; that was actually inherent in the system. At least, I built mine initially without Dbase support, using tokens and OnModLoad events. SoU added backend support for Dbase value storage, so you had a choice between SQLite or the built-in, but that actually didn’t take BW all that long to add. Most people opted for NWNX/SQL because it was more efficient and could be run in Linux (but in real-world performance, there was little difference).

        Anyhow, it’s ancient history – I felt NWN was more able to be monetized than Skyrim due to program stability (or, at least, it would have been more ethical). I actually agree with the donations to modders more than the monetization; the cut was too large to Bethesda and Valve for the work the modders did (especially the mods that did Bethesda’s job for them). At least with donations, they see all of it.

        But I digress; the system isn’t workable in the current situation. It was badly executed. And for poorly-optimized software. Charging people more to make your program actually work isn’t the best way to approach things.

        • Lacero says:

          I think I just didn’t like the token system. I was very glad when we got sql.

          As I recall a lot of the premium module stuff bioware wanted to do fell apart when wotc got involved. Their custom world mods especially, I can’t remember the name but it opened on a recent battlefield full of crows. Even bioware weren’t allowed to mod their game!

  27. machineageproductions says:

    It stinks.

    I was very excited, as a game designer, to do paid content for games like Skyrim. In fact, I planned a full quest/world mod that would have taken a few months’ time. I did a week’s work on it, and it was shaping up beautifully. I spoke to some voice actors, and we were discussing potential pay structures.

    But frankly, I don’t have time to do unpaid work right now. I only have the mental headspace for 40-60 hours of game work a week, and while I wanted to allocate it to a Skyrim mod, I’ll be going back to some freelance level design work.

    • Noxman says:

      Ummm, I’m sure you are a real person n’ all. Just drawing your attention to the fact that your reply sounds precisely like what a PR person would say in response to the controversy. You’ve covered all the bases. You were excited by the prospect as a developer, had already started planning this high quality content with voice actors and everything!

      But alas! Woe is you! The community rose and shot this wondiferous opportunity down and you simply don’t have the time to do unpaid work.

      How were you going to quantify how much money you were going to make to make it worth your while? What if you did all this work and no one bought it?

      • Horg says:

        I think the line where he claims to have done a weeks work on a prototype when the mod store was only revealed 4 days ago should answer your question.

        • wyrm4701 says:

          “I was very excited, as a time machine developer…”

        • machineageproductions says:

          I can do a week’s worth of work in four days. It’s not particularly challenging. It’s actually a pretty common occurrence in game development. In this instance, I did about a week’s work in three days.

          I’m a relatively real person. I mean, there are certainly more real people than me, and less.

          I’ve got about twelve games on my resume. None are Bethesda titles. I have some friends that work with Bethesda, but on the “I see them about once a year and share a drink” level.

          I could also explain about why the 25% sounds very reasonable, and how I’m really very excited about 25% of gross. But, that’d lend more credence to the smash theory that I’m a PR person, wouldn’t it?

    • pepperfez says:

      You dodged a bullet, then. That freelance work almost certainly offers a much better return on your time than mod sales would have.

      • machineageproductions says:

        I’d love a citation on that.

        At least with Valve, I know they pay out. I’ve been stiffed by AAAs before.

        • pepperfez says:

          Of course we can’t know for sure, but in a densely populated and essentially unregulated marketplace margins are going to be pretty slim. Add in the earnings split and the $400 minimum sales before you get sent a check, and it looks awfully dubious. If you were going to release a mod that sets the world on fire and makes thousands, you almost certainly have the talent, tools, and time to make much more money in some other, less saturated, endeavor.

  28. Noxman says:

    Hopefully this has scared them away from: Fallout 4 SDK, exclusively on Steam Workshop!

  29. wyrm4701 says:

    You know, the more I read of that Valve statement, the more horrified I am by it. Taken at face value, they’re saying that over the months they developed this feature, speaking to mod makers and the game publisher, that they put basically no thought into… well, any of it, from the sounds of it. They’re falling back to the usual Valve default position of “please forgive us for trying to be too nice to you, we didn’t realize how everyone could make that could go wrong”.

    We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.

    How is that even remotely possible? Is it somehow believable that no one, at any point in the process of monetizing the Skyrim workshop, brought up any of the many issues that might show up pretty much instantly?

    • iucounu says:

      Let’s consider the converse: that what’s happening is exactly what Valve understood was going to happen. What they planned for was a big launch of a new feature, in collaboration with Bethsoft, followed a couple of days later by a messy and acrimonious U-turn.

      I don’t think that’s likely at all.

      I was rather impressed by their statement and I’m struggling to think of another company that’d be capable of saying they got it wrong and need to rethink in such unambiguous terms.

      I’d also suggest that it was always going to be difficult to predict what was going to happen when they threw this particular switch, particularly in that they’re dealing with incentives and psychology and communities and lord knows what else murky, hard-to-model reactions. Perhaps this was too abrupt a launch; I think this really needed to be properly curated and introduced by degrees to see what the issues were likely to be.

      • wyrm4701 says:

        Yes, we’re fortunate there’s a lot of space between the two extreme possibilities, that we can assume a more nuanced explanation. I’d just like to hear some of it from Valve, for once. Right now, they’ve basically said “we didn’t think this through”, and their implementation indicates the words “at all, not even a little” apply. Which is very puzzling, because I don’t believe in the extreme possibilities, but they’re currently saying: “we kinda shit the bed on this” and I’m concerned they’re going to call the matter closed and let that hang in the air.

        • RobF says:

          I find with stuff like this that it’s worth remembering that Valve’s data driven approach isn’t always the most human friendly approach. When they say they didn’t know what they were doing, I don’t think it’s so much that they didn’t think it through, it’s that they’re structurally incapable of seeing a lot of the consequences that arise when you’re stepping outside looking at trends, data etc… So what might be obvious to many is a hypothesis that isn’t born out by data yet so let’s see how it goes to Valve.

    • Baines says:

      Valve assumed paid mods would see the same response that paid user-generated content saw in Valve’s own games. Note that the announcement doesn’t even acknowledge how poorly planned and thought out the idea was, but rather the problem was that Valve picked the wrong community to test it on.

    • pepperfez says:

      Based on the tech-industry people I’ve known, there’s a definite tendency to assume other people operate only on monetary incentives. So Valve saw people doing a thing and decided they would do the hell out of it if they got a couple dollars and what could go wrong?

  30. Wagrid says:

    “The lack of validating what goes on sale is a real problem Valve will need a solution for.”

    Which they won’t ever have because Valve run Steam like some libertarian dystopia. Literally all of their community features are a total fucking train wreck.

  31. Stevostin says:

    This article completely fails to explain what went wrong.

  32. ribby says:

    I think this says great things about Valve as a company:

    1. They listen to their community
    2. They are man enough to admit, not only that they were wrong, but also that they didn’t fully understand the situation.

    • Sirius1 says:

      “Listening to their community” before implementing this, rather than after, might have been a better idea.

      • Emeraude says:

        I think they did, failing to understand that their selective sampling was grossly inaccurate at representing the whole picture. And they fell into the trap because it gave them what they wanted to read.

        Good ol’ confirmation bias.

  33. SaintAn says:

    We may have brought the Death Star down, but the Empire will strike back. Valve needs to let this go because no one wants or needs it. The false god GabeN has lost touch with gaming.

  34. Necrourgist says:

    Who the fuck cares for the Skyrim Workshop anyways?! Its the junkyard of Skyrim Modding! Nexus + NMM or MO are the way to go. /rant

    • Emeraude says:

      As long as they’re allowed to exist.

      Or more likely really: as long as they survive the splintering of the community.

  35. Steve Catens says:

    It’s such a shame that so many people appear to have settled into the simplistic polarized positions of “Valve/Bethesda is greedy”, or “Mod users are entitled” on either side of this issue. It’s a far more complicated situation, and a case of an idea with merit being implemented poorly in every possible regard, with what appears to be very little forethought. You don’t need to be against the idea of mod maker compensation to have concerns about how the proposed profit mechanism works and how it might force mod makers to inflate prices in order to ever get a single payout, the differing expectations of players enjoying a fan effort vs. consumers purchasing a commercial product in regard to quality control and compatibility, and the lack of any kind of realistic plan for policing content in regard to intellectual theft and copyright violation for the sheer volume of mods that would be submitted to the store.

    The real damage done here is to the TES modding community, and to Valve’s rep. The TES modding community is a complicated, naturally evolved ecosystem, and Valve just blundered right in–like backing a dump truck into a delicate coral reef because they saw pretty shells there they could sell. A simple “Oops, our bad”, on their part does not repair the damage done to that community, and the contentiousness resulting from people so abruptly having their world changed.

    I’m not angry with anyone for having an idea about how to let modders share in the profits. But I’m furious with Valve for how ineptly this was done, and the utter meaninglessness of their apology. TES modding community was one of the fascinating evolutions that makes PC gaming so great. Valve just dropped a big steaming pile all over it, and is walking away with nothing more than a couple paragraphs of, “Yeah, sorry about that”, while still not giving any real indication they actually understand an institution they are clearly ready to start meddling with.

    • jonahcutter says:

      You hit on what things may very well look like in not too long of a time:

      One protected area around Skyrim’s ecosystem. Full bore drilling for oil just about everywhere else.

    • joa says:

      Not really that surprising. It’s the perfect opportunity for the ideologues that seem to populate this site to trot out their favourite issue to harp on. Either it’s something about gamers being entitled straight white males demanding the poor modders work for free (I wonder if they realise that modders are largely straight white males too?) or Bethesda being the epitome of evil capitalism trying to take over the pure and good hippie commune that is the modding community.

      • Emeraude says:

        I wonder if they realize that modders are largely straight white males too?

        I wonder if you realize that would be part of the problem for them: if only straight white males have the free time, skillet and tools necessary for modding, then certainly we have a problem to solve: access to good situations that allow the luxuries of free time, education and tools for all.

        Bethesda being the epitome of evil capitalism

        I don’t know about the epitome, but given what we know about how Zenimax and it have been dealing with developers, it certainly makes for good cautionary tales.

        trying to take over the pure and good hippie commune that is the modding community.

        Pure and good ? Hell no. Better as the alternative as far as we’re concerned ? Totally.

  36. Distec says:

    I like how some people, including some modders/devs, are trying to pin this development on their “entitled” audience; insulting mod users and pulling their free shit from Nexus. “All because you brats just want me to work for free! Now Valve is chucking the whole system!”

    Setting aside the principled argument on whether or not its right for modders to get paid for their work, this was a bullshit system that could not last as implemented. Zero consumer protection, zero curation, zero guarantees of compatibility, and community policing left to the Wild West of Steam’s user base. Are you crazy? I’m sorry you can no longer charge $1.00 for horse dongs or whatever, but it should have been clear this was was going to be a fucking mess.

    If your users are such vampires and *sniff* just don’t show enough gratitude for your work, then maybe it’s quitting time.

  37. Carlos Danger says:

    Any modders out there looking to mow my lawn this weekend. Could use the free labor.

    • Emeraude says:

      Come on it’s not going to be free, Uber is going to take it’s share, then you’re going to take your share, because after all it’s you lawnmower, then when/if the amount due reaches a certain pre-established threshold, you’ll pay.

    • Shurik7n says:

      Shame i always have to scroll down to very end for the best comment. Cheers nonetheless!

    • Steve Catens says:

      Well it depends. How much creative freedom are you offering me to interpret how your lawn care should be as an artistic expression? Do I have the freedom to show off my own artistic vision to other people in a venue that normally has significant barriers to entry? Can I introduce significant changes to your lawn that reflecting the way that *I* think it should be landscaped, that I normally wouldn’t be able to do to someone else s property? Landscaping requires expensive equipment and expertise with that equipment that I currently lack. Are you providing me with access to tools and a platform to gain that expertise with equipment that would be problematic for me to acquire elsewhere? Are you willing to let me utterly butcher your lawn for the sake of learning or artistic expression in an environment free of financial consequences, for results that will probably not compare to a professional landscaping service in most situations?

      I’m very interested in landscaping, and if you’re offering those things, I may very well be interested in mowing crop circles and phalli into your lawn because it offers me a high degree of personal satisfaction as well as valuable experience.

      I may even be more interested in mowing your lawn, than this other guy who is offering to pay me in a complicated way that really confuses a number of issues with landscaping. It’s almost as if whenever you introduce money into a situation, the stakes all rise, and all of a sudden there are questions about accountability, percentages, quality control, intellectual property ownership, and a cutthroat quality to the competition that wasn’t there before. I think I’d rather just be free of those things, though I’d happily take a few bucks if someone enjoys what I do, and would like to encourage me to continue.

    • pepperfez says:

      Oh I’m sorry, you’re too late: I’ve hired them all to paint this fence I have.
      Well, I say “have,” but the painters are going to have to call in someone to put it up first.
      And it’s not so much “hired” as “offered market-based incentives to,” but what’s the difference, really?
      In any event, they’re certainly too busy for any rival yardwork projects.

    • Diatribe says:

      I’ll tell you what, if you let me use your mower whenever you want, I’ll mow part of your lawn into the shape of a dong. When I feel like it. Just leave your mower out on the front porch and give me your address.

  38. GIJoe says:

    If the devs really want to support the modders and help the modding community:

    -Make your games easy to mod, not hardcoding everything.

    -Actually support your modders, by helping us solve problems we run into modding your games.

    -Make communication between dev/modders possible/easier.

    • Sirius1 says:

      *God* yes. It’s one of the major irritants that modders have to work so f’in hard to reverse engineer some mechanic so they can do anything with it, when it would likely take an actual dev two seconds to post their notes which explain it all in perfect detail.

  39. Emeraude says:

    Ok for the sake of fairness, this needs to be told: good on Valve for doing this.

    I’m no convinced they’re doing it for the right reasons, but credits where credits due: at least they’re giving it time.
    Hopefully that time is well spent.

  40. wengart says:

    I’ve posted this a few places, but I think it is worth reposting here. If you seen it before it now has added content at the end!

    There is no consumer protection here at all.

    You buy a mod that only the creator has any responsibility to, and the only way he is held responsible is essentially that he will feel bad if it stops working. It is just complete insanity.

    As you buy more mods you become more limited in what other mods you can purchase or install. Maybe that $2 mod breaks your $5 mod. So you have to return the $5 mod or disable (throwaaway) the $2 mod, and that only works if you discover the problem within the 24 hour period. Otherwise you have to choose what paid mod you use.

    There are just an insane number of ways for mods to break or interact poorly with the game or other mods. Be that the mod actually breaking a part of the game or just unbalancing it or destroying immersion. A few of the current mods for sale actually just give you 1 hit kill weapons within the first 5-10 minutes of gameplay. There is no sense of how any of these mods will really fit into the game, and traditionally you would say “fuck it, I’m uninstalling this”. In this environment though you’ve paid money, and unless you rush straight for the mod content and complete it you won’t know if what the store says is actually accurate in time for a refund.

    Then there are possibilities of modding divas getting pissed and intentionally breaking their own mod.

    You have modders, like the CS:GO guy, who are currently making money and see this as a positive, and I wan to be clear I don’t have a problem with modders making money. However, once you start selling a mod as a product you have a certain amount of responsibility to the consumer. Which happens in CS:GO, or Dota 2, or TF2 because Valve acts as a wrapper for the mod.

    Mod -> greenlight -> Valve picks it up (refine, polish, officially fitted into the game) -> released in the Steam store as a Valve product

    You have a very clear path where Valve is a partner with the modder to make the content official. The consumer isn’t buying from the modder, but Valve and Valve maintains the responsibility of selling the mod as a working product.

    What is happening here is pure fucking insanity. It will create so many support tickets and so many witch hunts. You know the modder has his name on the product and he stops updating after selling lets say 50,000 units (super popular mod) . The mod breaks and the modder doesn’t want to deal with it (the bug is too big or he just doesn’t feel like it. whatever) one of those pissed of consumers posts something to a few forums, and voila we have a witch hunt.

    A donation system avoids all of this by not making a mod a product. Now you say “but people don’t donate” and I say bull fucking shit. People don’t donate because it takes minutes to find out where to donate, it takes minutes to create a paypal, it takes minutes to donate with paypal. There is nothing easy about it, and this is in a world where your website will get dramatically fewer visitors if it takes over a second to load.

    On the mod page you have a donate button. Linked to your fucking steam wallet. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, EASE OF USE IS IN TOWN. Tied to that fucking button you have a few Steam badges, maybe one for each game. All you have to do is donate $1. That;s it and you get a fucking badge and 200 XP. Every motherfucker loves fake numbers. Holy shit, we have ease of use and incentive for initial use. Now, in addition to all of this shit you allow a certain amount of donated money $3, lets say, to give the user an extra trading card drop, if you donate $5 you get an extra booster drop. Holy shit! We have ease of use, incentive for the initial usage, and incentive for return usage. Valve can take some fucking money from this and so can Bethesda or whoever the fuck else. OH MY FUCKING GOD, DID YOU SEE THAT!?!?! We now have a system that incentivizes the user to donate to mods while not making them stupid fucking products!


    1: You place a donate button on the Steam page and make it work with the Steam Wallet. People don’t like waiting for shit, especially optional shit. If you want them to donate it has to be easy fucking peasy.

    2: Add a badge; call it “(GAME NAME GOES HERE) Community Builder”. You get this badge for donating $1. This gets people used to the idea of donating.

    3: For every $x someone donates they get an additional trading card drop, for every $x*2 donated they get a booster. We have no incentivized the user to donate again, and again.

    4: Valve and the Dev take their cut (be nice and take %50 or some shit). Valve and the dev also get a cut from the trading card aftermarket.

    5: the modder gets their cut.

    We now have people giving modders money without any of the horrific problems caused by making mods a product. Holy fucking shit.

  41. nanophage says:

    @ Everyone saying “modders shouldn’t get paid because it should be for fun”
    Modding can be fun sure, it can also still be a ton of work and frustration. No one is able to make a serious mod and have fun the entire time, not to mention what is fun is entirely subjective.

    Also we’re forgetting the plenty of people who have hobbies that DO make money off of them. Everything from stamp collecting, rubber stamps, card making, painting, gardening, bike making, mini’s painting, music, 3d modeling, tons of other hobbies. That someone won’t be paid for their work is not what divides a hobby from a job.

    Who are you to tell a modder, who may be a hobbyist modder, that they can not sell their work if the original content owner is OK with it?

    This is just a case of hobbyists being able to sell their work. Which is fine for every other hobby in existence but seemingly not this one.

    Obviously there’s other issues here, such as when a mod doesn’t work, using other peoples work, etc but that’s not what I’m addressing. It’s the entire “people shouldn’t be paid for hobbies” argument. It’s absurd.

    • Emeraude says:

      That’s not exactly what people have been saying though. “You shouldn’t turn a hobby into a full fledge market” doesn’t quite have the same implications as “modders shouldn’t get paid because it should be for fun”

  42. Spider Jerusalem says:

    This whole ordeal struck me as an attempt to break the Nexus’ stranglehold on modding, possibly for the release of FO4, to try and get people onto the (currently) shit Steam Workshop.

    Happy it failed.

  43. Kaeoschassis says:

    Well, whatever else happens, whatever my feelings on this might be, at least they were willing to admit that it wasn’t working.

    I’m just really relieved that none of the communities I’m into were chosen for Valve’s little experiment.

  44. Lionmaruu says:

    “it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing.”

    thats the best statement ever. they really didnt. please valve, make a donate button and thats it.

  45. noodlecake says:

    Bethesda’s greedy 75% cut really didn’t help matters. Why should they get any cut for mods? The modding community are almost certainly responsible for a big chunk of Skyrim sales as it is. At a push, giving 5% to Bethesda and 5% to Valve would have been borderline acceptable.

    • machineageproductions says:

      Valve charges for every monetary transaction on their platform. It’s why EA has left Steam.

      “A big chunk?” Not so much. Mod users constitute less than 8% of players. And I can’t imagine the majority of them specifically bought the game because of mods.

      • RobF says:

        Right, I wouldn’t put too much truck in the 8% figure for 2 reasons:

        1) 8% of tens of millions of people is still ALotOfPeopleTM
        2) More importantly, they didn’t say 8% of players of Skyrim on the PC, right? I imagine the numbers have shifted drastically by now but out the gate, the majority of Skyrim sales were on consoles. I’m certain once you break it down to PC only, you’ll see a bigger %


        “PC is resurgent,” enthused Howard. “Skyrim did better than we’ve ever done on PC by a large, large number. And that’s where the mods are. That feeds the game for a long time.” link to

  46. Jungle Rhino says:

    I dunno what the drama is. In the world of commercial software 3rd party extensions are commonplace. Just look at Trimble’s Sketchup or Autodesk’s Revit. They both feature fully supported API’s and warehouses for people to create and sell 3rd party add-ons.

    I have absolutely no problem with paying for a mod – but I don’t expect I would unless I was confident it was worth it. So those modders who decide to charge for their efforts need to accept a certain level of ownership and responsibility. Otherwise there is the risk of a backlash when people spend money on a mod only to see it get broken by a new patch to the core game but the modder has moved on to other things and is not interested in keeping it current.

    My personal prediction: There will be an initial ‘kid in the candy-store’ phase (much like kickstarter) that will over time be replaced by the soul crushing realisation that what used to be a relaxing hobby (modding) is now a stressful occupation…