The debate over paid mods rages ever on

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SteamMods

Lord Gaben giveth, and Lord Gaben, he taketh away. Paid Steam mods were pulled from the market nearly as quickly as they began, putting paid to a short-lived era of garage content creators getting paid money for the time and effort they put in to making existing games better. Some are happy about the rapid change, believing that game mods should always be free.

Here’s the thing though. People who make mods for games are generally people with incredible love for a specific game – and they use that love as impetus to create extra content, and make the games they love even better. There’s a frightful amount of work involved in making the sort of mods that effectively function as expansion, or even standalone games. And of course, there are people who aren’t too happy that a vocal group has had the option for paid mods removed.

Steam’s pages are filled with people angry about paid mods being yanked, and for good reason. While paid content will always cause sharks to circle, looking for easy prey – but paid mods could lead to bigger teams, making bigger things – something the creator of ModDB agrees with.

“Paid mods will definitely lead to more content, better content and well supported content,” Reismanis writes. “It will also lead to more free mods as tools improve, and more developers participate. A healthier mod community is a great thing and if optional (and I must stress optional) paid mod support is how we get there, then I’m on board. More games today support modding because of this potential than ever before, and if once-great moddable games were to contemplate a return to modding if it continues, isn’t that a win?”

One modder, though, is a little incensed.

“I started publishing mods two years ago. Since my first mod was released on the Skyrim Workshop my mods have received over 200,000 individual downloads and two donations. That means 0.001% of users donated.”

“And to all the people who say a donate button will help. I’d like to talk about the workshop ratings system. On every mod page there are two buttons that you can press (whether you have subscribed to the mod or not) that contribute to a mod’s overall rating. Giving a thumbs up is optional, but very much encouraged by creators. Most users simply do not rate.”

“My most popular mod has been downloaded by over 70,000 people of which less than 1.5k of them have rated it. That means 98% of users didn’t take the time to rate the mod (and that is above the average for most mods on the Workshop), an act which takes one click, and costs nothing to do.”

Without some sort of compensation for the time and the work, many modders just don’t have the time to carry on doing what they do. Bills need to be paid.

“Over the last year, I have been inactive in the modding community. I have several new mods that are close to being finished, some even got to a beta stage that users had a chance to try.Unfortunately, I could no longer justify investing my time in modding. It was not a matter of greed, but practicality. I needed to pay the bills.When I heard that Steam was going to make it possible for mod authors to charge money for their mods, It caught my attention. For me, it meant I might have a justification to come back to the modding community.”

“Most modders don’t mod forever, they usually stop at some point. Even the best. Have you ever wondered why? MODDING IS A LOT OF WORK. At a certain point, passion is no longer enough to keep you going. Without proper encouragement and validation, you become drained and burn out. The community needs to find a way to bring more incentive for creators to keep making mods. Paid mods may have been the solution to bring back modders like Chesko and ThirteenOranges, but I don’t see that happening now.”

It’s definitely a tricky debate, and one that’s far from over – and the general consensus from those who make the mods is that donations simply don’t work. I do believe that content creators should have the option of charging for their work, but the way it was being done through steam was a little less-than-ideal.

The modding scene will never be the same after this though. With a golden carrot briefly dangled in front of their faces, mod creators are less likely to put in the time and effort required for great big mods, without some hope of a payday in the future.

Last Updated: April 29, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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