Valve, Bethesda, and paid mods.

Titillating

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For those gamers who haven't been made aware of it in the past week (where do you guys game, under a rock?!), Valve recently introduced a new feature on Steam: paid mods, with a test run on perhaps the most popular moddable game in recent history, Skyrim.

This was met with overwhelming displeasure from the PC gaming community, with many die-hard PCMR brothers on reddit calling for Steam blackout days, boycotting Valve, and revolting against their so-called savior GabeN. The universal outrage was not only over the idea of paid mods, but the implementation of it that gave 75% of the proceeds to Valve and Bethesda. Both users and modders have expressed their disappointment in the way that this was handled, petitioning for its removal. Forbes has published an article outlining the legal and ethical mess this creates. Even YouTube personalities have spoken out against it, including Total Biscuit.

The feature's banner announcement has since been taken down after GabeN (unsuccessfully) tried to placate the gaming community with a reddit AMA session. The damage has been done though, between the poor implementation and the censoring of criticisms raised against the feature, and many have lost faith in the company they once revered. Skyrim, once one the the most highly rated games, on Steam and many other review sites, has seen its rating plummet dramatically (from ~97% approval on Steam to ~83% in just a few days) as users continue to protest and voice their displeasure over the idea of paid mods.

What are your thoughts on the situation, the events that took place, and what this means for Valve and its suddenly tenuous hold on the PC gaming market?
 

7r1bb1e

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I think that 25% PROFIT is much better than COMPLETE ZERO. So i think the modders are quite stupid, considering the fact that Steam can reach millions of customers...

 

Titillating

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And why should Valve and Bethesda get ANY profit for a creation they had no hand in, aside from providing the tools and the platform? The tools were already available for free, and have always been. Steam may reach millions of customers, but Skyrim mods already had a platform that reached far more than Steam could: Nexus, a platform literally dedicated to the hosting and distribution of these mods and a name that is synonymous with Skyrim modding.

Keep in mind that modders have to make $100 worth of profit before Valve would let them cash out. That's $400 worth of sales, at the 25% split. Do you think this encourages them to invest time and energy into creating a large, high-quality mod like Falskaar that would have sold for what, $10-$15 optimistically, when they can throw together a weapon skin in an hour, price it at $1, and wait for the sheer volume of sales to make up for it?

Nobody is against modders making some money off of this, but donations were always a better option. When you introduce a paywall, it hurts the users and the modding community. Think about something like SkyUI, whose dev has stated would be moving to a paywall model. Think about how many other mods that, free or otherwise, RELY on SkyUI. Paywalls are always harmful. This has the potential to end up like mobile in-app purchases, or like all this DLC nonsense that plagues the industry already.
 
Professional paid for mods are called expansions.
If a game company likes what modders are doing and want to make profit off it, they need to hire the modders as actual developers, this is exactly how we get great things like Counter Strike.

What Valve and Betheseda tried to do was offer no guarantee of quality or service or support and still try and make money off it.

Modders either work for free, accept donations, or get bought out by the developers. I would only be okay with this is Valve was only taking a 10% cut, as that's all they deserve. The market will decide whether a mod is worth paying for or not, and it would most likely be not. Nearly the entire reason that modding is popular is because it offers FREE content for a game, which increases the value of the base game. People still buy Skyrim because of a mods, Bethseda wanting to make money off other peoples hard work is wrong.

I've made a couple mods in the past, more expansive than simple "here's a new item/skin" mods. I'd only ever charge for them if litterally everyone else was doing it as the accepted norm, because I made mods to make the game more enjoyable for me mainly, as that's what most modders do. They see something they don't like or think could be improved and they do it. Not everyone wants Ore Deposits to glow, but a few people did and they made mods to make Ore Deposits easier to spot. And there a plenty of people who were fine with how hard they were to spot before.
 

Titillating

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Absolutely agree. In the case of Skyrim, people should remember how buggy and unplayable the base game can be. Unofficial patches are essential to smoothing out the gameplay experience, and there are very few people who mod Skyrim that don't use any of the unofficial patches. The people who made them are fixing bugs and errors that Bethesda should have fixed, because we're freakin' paying Bethesda for their product. Now they want to potentially charge us for patches and fixes to the bugs that they left in the game, patches and fixes made by users, and they want to PROFIT off that? It's sheer lunacy, and buying into that supports the production of half-finished beta games that you have to essentially buy two or three times, between the DLC/expansions (read: the rest of the game you already paid for) and semi-essential mods.
 

mrhippo900

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My solution? Add a donation button, instead of forcing you to pay for mods that are not worth money. This way if you think the mod is good enough, and are looking forward for future updates, you can donate for more quality within the mod. If we look at games like minecraft in which have the same system I just suggested then you can realize it works 90% of the time. My conclusion. Valve just needs to remove the stick that is firmly wedged up each of their asses remove this feature or make into a donation. Also don't even get me start on the profit rules, and what happens to if you don't want the mod.
 

thrus

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One of the initial paid mods (Vampire castle redo) was made by a person on steam that had the unofficial patches posted. imagine the effect if he had started charging for those, and the person that did the script editor also charged it would have brought a good portion of the mods out there down until people acquired them. the pay cut wasn't even my issue with this roll out. the maker of the DayZ mod did bit that covered that pretty well. my issue was doing it with an older game like Skyrim where there are a ton of made modes out there that have been open-sourced due to age. what was to stop people from grabbing those and putting them up for sale and profiting from them? who is in charge of policing the system to enforce the author who wrote the mode 3 years ago and left it 1 year ago gets the credit and not the first person to post it to steam?

Do this with a new game and I wouldn't have an issue with it. problem on a new platform would be what happens when the developer releases a game that is a bit buggy and then breaks mods we paid (and they got a cut of) with a patch? This type of system needs a stable completed game with good modding tools, and no one releases that at launch. They have bugs and get patches, or have no modding tools. Even Mortal Kombat and GTA couldn't launch without bugs that lit up steam forums and those are established IP not put out by little people. Then we hit the issue of if they charge for the mod how do we find out what ones are crap? Managing return policies on that would be a nightmare.
 
This system is launched at the wrong time with the wrong game and with the wrong numbers. Whether the game is going to support paid mods or not should have been announced before the release of the game itself. Skyrim modding is complex with modders sharing assets among themselves. When it was free it was alright to share but once it starts making money no one is going to share assets. Portal 2 would have been a better game to try this system first. Portal 2's maps and mods are mostly independent work. And the modder only makes 25%, that's really unacceptable. Should have been atleast 50%.

What I am worried about the most with paid mods is the long term consequences. Most developers will start making moddable games that last 10 years or more. We will be seeing less and less of unique AAA games every year. Like other developers are making MOBAs seeing the success of LOL and Dota 2. We definitely don't need more Skyrim's.
 

Sythil

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This link I am providing contains harsh language, but I feel keeping it intact keeps the emotion this modder is trying to express along with his take on this matter.

http://pastebin.com/PsGhTzES
 

Jak_Sparra

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Well I got permanently banned form the Skyrim discussion board for saying I hoped the people buying armour (and there for bending over) would all just die!. But I think the moderators just used that as an excuse to ban me as I was vocal and loud against the paywall. I notice several people were banned in a short amount of time. Made me very unhappy. I have nearly 400 games on Steam, but from now on will use GoG.
 

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