Modders rally in support of premium Steam mods

Ben Parfitt
Modders rally in support of premium Steam mods

The founder of one of the world's largest mod communities has argued that paid mods may be a vital revenue source for games in an increasingly hostile digital marketplace.

Our reluctance to pay for anything digital, is forcing the music, movie and games industries to adapt,” ModDB founder Scott Reismanis said. In the case of music and movies, they have turned to streaming with ads and subscriptions. In the case of games (especially F2P and mobile) we have tried many ugly ideas such as pay to play, pay to win and ads, but all of these ideas punish the player.

So in comes DLC and add-on packs to the rescue, as a way to generate revenue while giving something back to the player. But even DLC is often viewed as a negative, as content that should have been shipped in the original game… so what's left? MODS!

The numbers don't lie, every good game that has mods has abnormally high user engagement and longevity. As Team Fortress 2 shows, revenue skyrocketed when user-generated content was sold. As we run towards a F2P content based economy, the significance of this cannot be understated, as publishers explore new ways of making money (which doesn't have to be a bad thing).

It is amazing that modding has never been stronger than it is today, and Valve is a big reason for that. We need to be understanding that growth may come at a cost, and to approach all change with an open mind. Doing so as a community and our voice will continue to be heard.”

Valve earlier this week removed the option for mod creators to charge for Steam mods just days after debuting the feature.

Unrest at Valve's reversal is cropping up elsewhere online, too. Skyrim modder Edhelsereg admitted that his reputation may be hurt” by speaking out in favour of paid mods, but did so regardless.

After what I have seen over the past few days, it will probably be a very long time before I step back into the modding community,” he said. Since my first mod was released on the Skyrim Workshop my mods have recieved over 200,000 individual downloads and two donations. That means 0.001 per cent 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 per cent 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.

My main issue is that MOST MOD USERS DO NOT APPRECIATE WHAT IT TAKES TO PRODUCE A MOD. I have spent over 2,000 hours working on my mods. Ask yourself, have you ever worked on any one thing, day after day, for hundreds, let alone thousands of hours? Before you start assigning value to someone's work, you should have an understanding of what was required to make it.

The statement that MODDER'S SHOULD NOT BE COMPENSATED is so unbelievably disrespectful to the creators. As a creator I feel totally underappreciated, unwanted, and vilified by the community. Those who have been so negative have frightened off both veteran modders and potential new ones.

Regardless of your position, the response to this development has been embarrassing and shameful. I truly believe that all reasons aside, the primary reason people don't like this is because they DON'T WANT TO SPEND MONEY. It's not a bad thing, it's just the truth. It's understandable. Given the option get something for a price or for free (without negative consequences) people will choose free every time. I believe that there is a consequence. The dignity of the mod creators.”

Kotaku reports that a petition has even been created urging modders to stop work altogether to boycott eh player community” as they are fairweather friends”.

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