Mods are one of the things that make PC gaming awesome – because you can always count on creators to dabble with game engines and add things that the developers didn’t even dream of. They’re usually free – but that’s changing. Valve has updated its Steam Workshop to allow creators to charge for their mods.
“The Steam Workshop has always been a great place for sharing mods, maps, and all kinds of items that you’ve created. Now it’s also a great place for selling those creations,” Valve says on its updated site. “With a new, streamlined process for listing and selling your creations, the Steam Workshop now supports buying mods directly from the Workshop, to be immediately usable in game. Discover the best new mods for your game and enable the creators to continue making new items and experiences.”
The first game to support this is modder’s paradise, Skyrim. Modders are able to set prices for their creations, or continue to offer them for free. Mods that use work from multiple creators allow the money to be split.
It’s already causing quite a bit of controversy, as you’d expect. In effect, what Valve has done has turned mods in to paid DLC. On the one hand, I definitely believe that content creators should be able to earn money from their hard work, but it’s starting to look like people are jumping on this purely for the sake of making a quick buck or two. There are also a great number of mods that piggyback off of other people’s work (notably, Skryim Script Extender) – and it’s causing quite a bit of consternation in modding communities. In fact, there’s already a nearly 10000 petition for Valve to reverse the change. One of the primary reasons? Just 25% of the cash goes to the mod creators, with Valve
pocketing a staggering 75%. and the publisher getting the rest.
Here are some comments (verbatim!) from the petition:
“Many of the mods currently being sold require the Skryim Script Extender and that team of people won’t be seeing a single penny from this the way you have it set up. Also modding is a hobby, not a career. You will ruin the modding community by going about this in the fashion that you are.”
“Valve’s monetization of Steam Workshop mods – in it’s current state – is very detrimental to the PC modding ecosystem as a whole.
Additionally, in its current state, many developers responsible for very, VERY influential mods (such as SKSE in the case of Skyrim) will not be seeing a single cent of revenue despite the fact that many, many mods relying on content from SKSE will be sold.
Valve has demonstrated a complete inability to curate content (see: Greenlight and Early Access), and it isn’t going to be any better with paid mods. Nobody is going to be there to stop scammers from selling mods that are free elsewhere, and in the end the only people who stand to win is Valve, who gets to take a slice of the pie while doing nothing in return.”
“This system can be abused, people can make essentially free money, for very little work, by not relaleasing a full mod, sying it’s an alpha, or use stolen assets.”
It opens up the floodgates for low-quality, least-effort mods purely for the sake of money. Right now, it’s confined to Skyrim, but expect other Steam Workshop games to start having the good stuff locked behind paywalls. Would you pay for user-created mods?
Last Updated: April 24, 2015