Fresh off the heels of requiring anybody with a Steam account to have spent at least $5 to use features like adding friends or sending private messages (in an effort to curve the massive amount of spambots and hackbots populating Steam these days), Valve has announced that Steam Workshop will now allow mod developers to charge money for mods. This access has begun today with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim allowing mod developers with already existing mods to add a price tag, and anyone who developers mods for the game down the road to charge what they see fit as well. There have been some intense reactions to this move by Valve and I’m here to express my opinions on the situation. As always, these opinions may or may not reflect those of the rest of RealGamerNewz staff but I have spoken to them all about the issue before writing this piece as to get feedback from all points of view.
A bunch of mods that have been available for free for several years now being unsubscribed from player’s Steam accounts will surely feel wrong to many when it happens today. While I understand the abruptness of this may not be an ideal way to transition in the service, I do believe that giving mod developers the ability to charge for mods in Steam is a good thing and morally correct. Many of the mods are charging as low as 25 cents and some have chosen to remain free. It is at the mod developer’s discretion whether or not to charge for mods and how much that cost should be per item.
Don’t mod devs deserve to get paid? For years the mod development community has been pouring their hearts and souls into their work and sometimes even achieving better results than AAA developers themselves. Bethesda has shown a large amount of maturity by allowing this move to happen with one of their games first and are paving the way for a much more fair mod scene. Remember, if you believe mods should be free and you create a mod you are free to not tack a fee onto it or even release it on Nexus Mod Manager instead of Steam Workshop if you feel so compelled. This is not being forced on anyone and isn’t the end of free mod culture, it’s simply a choice. In my opinion it’s a shame that we haven’t been paying mod developers sooner. After all, this isn’t slave labor and hard work that provides endless hours of entertainment deserves to be rewarded.
Just as indie developers have often come up with very innovative and creative ideas that were for the betterment of games in general, mod developers have often also had this effect. I look forward to seeing what they come up with given this new motivation of monetary success and will be sure to support only the good ones as a discerning consumer. RealGamerNewz will likely begin to Review mods in the coming future to help gamers know what exactly each one provides and evaluate the value proposition of them. Until then, Happy hunting!
Here’s a direct quote from Valve’s Official Press Release: “Mods on the Skyrim Workshop have received more than 170 million downloads to date. The thousands of free mods, items, weapons, and quests will continue to be available at the discretion of the players who made them.”
[Update: 75% of the revenue goes to Valve, mod creators decide the price of the mod, and there are 24 hour refunds allowed for mods – however, if mods break after that 24 hour period or are broken due to a developer patch there is currently no action a consumer can take other than waiting for the mod creator to fix it which may or may not be possible depending on the situation.]
[Update #3: 45% of the 75% Valve takes for Skyrim mods will be given to Bethesda. This % may vary from game to game depending on Valve’s negotiations.]
[Update #4: Refunds will go to the Steam Wallet and can only be re-spent in Steam.]
[Update #5: Before mods can charge money, they first have to be free and given time for an approval process to take place meant to weed out scammers.]
More info about the paid content in Steam Workshop can be found in Valve’s Blog about the topic.
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