Home Gaming Valve pulls paid Skyrim mods

Valve pulls paid Skyrim mods

2 min read

Uturn sign

It all started with a seemingly good idea. Valve has let people make money from their creations in Dota and other games, why not reward those modders who make games better? Well, because apparently the internet will riot.

In the fastest 180, Valve has undone its decision from last week, the one allowing creators to charge for Steam Workshop mods. I do believe their heart was in the right place, as was Bethesda’s based on the original blog about it:

We believe mod developers are just that: developers. We love that Valve has given new choice to the community in how they reward them, and want to pass that choice along to our players. We are listening and will make changes as necessary.

Of course, they were listening, and when the internet rose up with criticism and later hate for the idea, they quickly backed down:

After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.

Valve made a similar statement. Not only will the payment feature be removed from the Skyrim workshop, anyone who spent money on a mod will be getting a full refund.

We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing. We’ve been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they’ve been received well. It’s obvious now that this case is different.

The move to allow modders to make money from their creations is an extremely tricky balance. Some people are willing to pay for massive modifications to games, while others feared it would become like DLC with people making mods as a quick and easy cash grab. Of course, some modders actually make certain games worthwhile – so why so many issues with Skyrim? Then again, I think Markus ‘Notch’ Persson hit the nail on the head with his tweets.

That’s just it, for some games people demand the right to pay for mods, while with other games they are outraged at the suggestion of it. Valve seems to have made the right decision in this case – better to pull the feature than deal with ridiculous internet rage. But why are these paid mods so upsetting compared to ones for other games?

Last Updated: April 28, 2015


  1. Kromas,powered by windows 10.

    April 28, 2015 at 08:14

    For me it was an issue of $99 horse reskin mods popping up or random crap like pretty much 90% of steam greenlight/early access. Solution is to have a donation button so you can donate towards a modder rather than get screwed over.


    • Brady miaau

      April 28, 2015 at 08:47

      Yes, donate AFTER the mod works on your system. If you want to.


  2. Blood Emperor Trevor

    April 28, 2015 at 08:20

    He didn’t hit the nail on the head with his first tweet, it completely misses the point. You don’t play Skyrim with one mod, you play it with many at once. Think it’s going to work playing Skyrim with “teamfortresscounterstrikeportalleftfordeadgarrysmoddayzfinaldoom” all installed and running at the same time? No it won’t, and you’ve paid for them.

    Sure it sucks for mod creators not getting paid (through Steam), but no one seems to be giving a shit about the people buying the mods who’ll end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to support, compatibility, etc.


  3. Ross Woofels Mason

    April 28, 2015 at 08:23

    I think the main thing Valve needs to do it have a proper policy in place for making mods. End of the day I believe modders if they are so inclined and a mod has taken a lot of effort and work be able to charge for it.

    There needs to be a proper system in place though to stop people charging stupid amounts for things like skins, and texture packs.

    The alternate method here is to open up a “tip” option for people, where if you feel you liked their mod and want to support them you can tip. The mod itself however stays free.

    The one website I am part of has just started offering this for designers on 3D models (myminifactory.com), and it works out really well actually. I’ve tipped a few people because I’ve used their models for printing.


    • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

      April 28, 2015 at 13:50

      I can’t play Kerbal Space Program (Congrats for leaving Early Access!) without a mod called MechJeb. So much so that I support the modder through a mod system called curse cause if you are on curse you can get donations. His main site is just a github link and thus has no place to donate him some well earned money.


  4. Ranting Raptor

    April 28, 2015 at 08:27

    I honestly don’t see an issue with this. With certain mods like Falskaar, it would be perfectly fine to pay for the mod as DLC as it pretty much gives around 20 hours of gameplay.

    Yes you get crap but guess what, crap won’t be bought. You could easily tell which mods are good and which are bad by how many people have actually forked out cash for it.

    In fact I feel this is a golden opportunity missed by the commnity to have truely amazing mods appear. So many good mods go unnoticed because there are so many other bits of fluff around that it is often missed. There are hundreds of thousands of crap mods out there and a handful of good ones.

    SO why not allow paid for mods? Why not!? No one is stealing your enjoyment here. No one is forcing you to buy said mod.

    Heck you could have 2 sections in the mods pages. Paid and free. The paid stuff could have rules and regulations around it. There could be regulations on minimum size, content etc for mods to classify to be paid.

    You could have had seperate price ranges as well. Small aesthetic enhancements could have been $1 for example while more complex complete overhauls could have been more. Or whatever.

    The paid section could have become the “gold” portion of the modding community where only the best and most amazing mods appear.

    This mentality by the gaming world at large that we should get everything free is actually disgusting. Why in the world should a mod, that someone else put time in to, be free? Why? Why should the person who made it not benefit at least a little for their effort?

    Yes, you’d have people trying to jump on with some quick grabs for cash and all that, but those would have been weeded out very quickly.

    Seriously, the moment people see they have to pay for things they see red and it’s detrimental. Honestly get over your the “gimme free” mentality and start realising time and effort goes in to a lot of this and if the creator wants to charge for it, they should be 100% allowed to. It’s up to you whether you see it as value enough to fork out cash for or not.

    /Rant (actually the rant isn’t over I just have work to do)


    • Axon1988

      April 28, 2015 at 08:34

      This will always be the issue though, there is now standard quality control in the modding scene.

      Take for example one of the mods that was released with this whole fiasco. Some skull armor pack. It was crap, you had to unitilize the console to spawn the armor as it does not appear in the world. And then it was also only a single piece of armor, not gloves / breastplate / boots. All that for $3.99…

      The next issue is after sales service, no modding community will have a dedicated support team working on making sure that the mod works well with other mods. What if the team release a patch that breaks the mod a week after you paid cash for it, and then they decide to leave the project? WHAT THEN?


      • Ranting Raptor

        April 28, 2015 at 08:48

        But that’s why you need regulations around what may be paid for and what may not.

        Descriptions would need to be very clear, amount of content would have to match up to specific levels, type of content would also determine price etc.

        Anyone who buys a $3.99 bit of mod for something that’s lacking in description and how it functions etc is being an idiot.

        Mods would have to be released in a complete and working state. With the option for full refund if the mod isn’t working at the time of purchase. If you release a paid for bit of content then there should be rules that you can’t update it without some level of support. The mods should be released as is etc.

        Yes, I understand the logistical issues behind the whole paid for modding saga. But honestly, at the end of the day it’s the end user’s choice to pay for content and the modder’s choice whether to charge for it.

        If you charge for it and make cash for it, then you should be able to supply some level of support for it etc. But lighting the torches and picking up the pitchforks like people did? Uncalled for and really a sign of how sick the gaming community is getting. If you don’t want to pay for modded content then just stick to the free stuff and don’t say people won’t. THe best mod for Skyrim, Falskaar updated the mod page indicating the mod would remain free of charge. So you’d still get free stuff if you wanted to mod.

        A mod purchase would also be at your own risk if they decide to pull support at some point. The same way you risk a server being shut down for a paid game that’s online only, which you forked out cash for.


        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          April 28, 2015 at 08:55

          But there is no regulation. It’s a free-for-all. Pun intended. And that stuff all needs to be resolved BEFORE you start charging people, not afterwards.


          • Axon1988

            April 28, 2015 at 08:57

            Yes indeed. There were too many problems. And the example mods were not up to scratch at all.

        • Axon1988

          April 28, 2015 at 08:56

          I completely agree with you on this. This is on e of the reasons why something like this cannot work. There is no QA, there is no support. And that is why something like a donate button would have been a lot better.


          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 09:06

            A donate option would certainly be worth it but the same thing still applies. You pay for it by “donating” and then the mod updates the next day and breaks, the user stops support. Then what? You have a broken mod/game?

            Yes there are things that need to be ironed out such at what level of support can be expected etc. But at the end of the day it should be a user and modder choice to pay/charge.

            Not up to the community to stir up all the hate they did simply because it was now an option. It wasn’t being forced on anyone. It was provided as an option. Not the only way.

        • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

          April 28, 2015 at 13:57

          I would just like to point out that once you sell a mod you have to remove any licence product from it.


          No more randy savage dragons for skyrim.
          No more Normandy SR2 for skyrim
          actually about 90% of cool mods out there for skyrim comes from some other game/movie/tv series or other media.

          This would have been the end of the fun that was modding at least in my eyes.

          Also as a smaller side note if you sell a mod you are selling a piece of code that can alter gameplay and subsequently change the intended age ratings.Not that parents check what games are age appropriate anyways. 😛


          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 15:05

            Again, this is why the torch and pitchfork thing is so bad.

            No it’s not the end of fun modding. YOu just have to do the fun modding free.

            Paid for mods were not going to be the only way to distribute mods. It was simply an extra option.

            So you’ have paid mods that would be very structured with no copywrite material etc (So your very original stuff)

            Then seperate free mods that are free of such restrictions.

            Be careful of just assuming that it’s the death of modding

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 15:34

            I am assuming because of the ease of setup for modders. It is literaly a check box and a pricebox. Money has this way of making things complicated and everyone is susceptible to it. If you don’t believe me go have a look at Greenlight games and ea games.

          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 15:39

            Which, again, is the modders choice and the players choice to buy. It’s not complicated. You either support a paid mod or you don’t. There is nothing that says you absolutely have to use x or y mod for whatever reason.

            It’s not as if paid mods are the only route available.

            Now if Valve had said the only mods you may load or have on Steamworks are ones with a monetary value attached, then I’d understand. But simply giving it as an option if you’d want to? Meh. It’s really not so “evil” and “disgusting”.

            It’s up to the modder and buyers to decide what they deem appropriate to sell / buy

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 15:43

            Yeah but it is a case of opening the floodgates to poorly made hastly edited pieces of junk that gets upvoted for a quick boost to the top of the workshop and that is usually enough to trick people into buying things they thought was good due to fake reviews etc etc. The con game has been going on in steam for years now. Mods are just gonna triple that effect to the point where I would prefer buying games off EA rather.

          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 15:45

            Or you could just stick to the good free mods. Look, the system can be exploited just like any other. People on the internet are a-holes. But it’s still not ok to give out the hate Valve received for making paid mods an option

          • Pariah

            April 28, 2015 at 15:49

            See my replies above.

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 15:50

            The hate comes from Valve lately not thinking things through. How hard could it have been just to come up with a donate button instead of the paid mod system? Took me about a minute to figure it out after I heard about this and it is a WAY better idea since many other people also thought about it.

          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 15:57

            Guys, I know there are problems. My issue isn’t with whether the mod options should or shouldn’t be there. My issue is with internet mob mentality that’s becoming poisonous to such a degree that something like this, which is a free choice, gets blasted by theinternet for no real purpose.

          • Pariah

            April 28, 2015 at 16:00

            The purpose exists. The system as it stands needed to go, the problems with it were vast and detrimental to everyone.

            A rework was vital.

            By your logic, we shouldn’t protest against the ANC, because it’s “toxic” and “they have a free choice to rob the country blind.”

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 16:02

            He does have a point about us going overboard on the internet but refer to my post below this., 🙂

          • Pariah

            April 28, 2015 at 16:08

            The problem with his logic though is that he’s blanket saying that we shouldn’t bitch, just don’t buy it. What about the mods that make the game better? What about the years we’ve used them without paying a cent?

            The way this was done is wrong. The idea, in principle, is fantastic, but Valve need to rethink how they implement it.

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 16:20

            No … they need to CURATE. And not just this … EVERYTHING. Getting sick and tired of pages upon pages of greenlight/ea games that is just shit. I don’t buy them but they clog up my screen and I might actually miss a gem or two.

          • Pariah

            April 28, 2015 at 16:24

            Curation is key I agree. Filter out the thieves and shit, and only approve a price on quality mods. But in addition, taking 75% of the sale is stupid. Valve didn’t make Skyrim. They didn’t make the mods. They aren’t the sole platform (in fact, Nexus is better in this case) to get mods from either. There is no justification for that ludicrous price tag on the mods.

            Fucking think, Valve. Think.

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 16:35

            Uhm …. HUGE misnomer there. Valve takes 30% Dev/Pub takes 45% (bethesda in this instance) and 25% goes to Modder.

          • Ranting Raptor

            April 28, 2015 at 18:45

            You’re seriously equating the ANC who squanders forced taxes with a completely optional, personal choice system? Really?

          • Kromas,powered by windows 10.

            April 28, 2015 at 16:01

            Really??!! Look at all the crap EA got today cause they actually HAVE a refund policy (something steam does not).

            Welcome to the internet.

    • Pariah

      April 28, 2015 at 15:04


      I glean that you’re fine with paid mods though. No curation, easy to steal and produce sub-standard work, slap a price tag, make some bucks, move on. Also, some mods aren’t on the workshop. Those mods don’t get money. Also, some paid-for mods available for free on Nexus. Why pay on steam when can get for free?

      So. Many. Issues. So. Many. Questions. So. Much. Can. Go. Wrong.

      So. No. Just. No.


      • Ranting Raptor

        April 28, 2015 at 15:41

        Again, the paid mod option is optional. It’s not the only way or the only ones you are “supposed to”.

        Yes there are issues around the technical aspects behind it, but to get upset because it’s an option for people to use if they want? I’m sorry that’s silly.

        I’m not ok with paid mods. I would never fork out cash for it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to burn down Bethesda or Valve for implementing a system that allows paid mods. I’d just never visit the paid section.

        Now if they removed free mods completely and said free mods were NOT allowed. Then I’d have an issue


        • Pariah

          April 28, 2015 at 15:44

          So you’re ok with people releasing crap and charging for it? You’re ok with people being able to steal assets from mods not on the workshop (or available for free) and putting them in 1 “mod”, then charging for it?

          I assume you’re also ok with Valve taking 75% of the proceeds of all sales of mods as well, for a 3rd party game they had nothing to do with?


        • Pariah

          April 28, 2015 at 15:49

          Let me also add in: what about those mod creators who previously released mods for free, who now decide to charge for it, but other mods rely on those mods?

          Or what about the opposite, paid-for mods that rely on mods not available on the workshop, whose creators will not see a single cent for their efforts in allowing the paid-for mods to exist in the first place?

          There are problems upon problems upon problems here.


  5. Greylingad

    April 28, 2015 at 08:56

    The donation model would work best for any type of mod, it’ll also inspire the modders to publish mods that work best, it’s as simple as that, but then Valve shouldn’t take 102% of the actual donation to start with…


  6. Frost

    April 28, 2015 at 09:05

    Did Valve just disprove the whole business model for the new Unreal Tournament?


  7. Uberutang

    April 28, 2015 at 09:37

    I have no problem with paid for mods, but you cannot introduce them into games that have been out for some time and have had free mods from the start.

    Certain games only sell because of mods. I would never have bought or played vanilla skyrim. But 300 mods later and it is a beautiful enjoyable game.

    I would also not have paid R70 for it and all the dlc if I still had to pay R11 per mod added. Crazy.

    Have a donate button.

    Falskaar is something I would have paid a few bucks for,. but that dev got rewarded by getting a job at Bungie, so mods are more like super cv’s these days anyway. They are not content that should be monetized. They often sell a game (to me at least) so if the DEV wants to reward the MODDER for his or her work, good stuff, but dont hand that cost over to the consumer.

    What Bethesda should have done is go: hey we see we sold 1 0 00 000 more copies since mod x released and 6 000 000 people downloaded that mod… so lets give the modder a few $$$ (or a job).


  8. konfab

    April 28, 2015 at 09:45

    I like the idea of paid mods, especially the high quality ones.

    The simple way to ensure quality is to either to use refunds or use shareware.


  9. Kevin

    November 30, 2015 at 02:02

    If it were a free market, the system would be self balancing. But it can’t be a free market. How can it be a free market situation, when a monopoly is held by the least invested party with the poorest interface? I would sooner that Bethesda cut a deal with Nexus. At least they have a proven means of sorting and rating content. Steam does not.


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