Yesterday saw the announcement that Valve are adding pricing options to mods created by users, with the mod creator setting a price (or the option to leave it free!), and Valve taking a cut of the pie. It’s only on one game so far (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), but if successful, it may get rolled out across Steam entirely.
This, on the face of it, is a good thing. Modders, who spend so much valuable time crafting mods for games, finally have a means of being able to support themselves through what they do! No longer do they have to get nothing, or get a small donation here and there. Now they can RAKE in the moolah!
Well, not really. The mod creator only takes a 25% piece of the pie. The remaining 75% is split between Valve and Bethesda. 25c from $1, £2.50 from a tenner. It’s really not a lot. The Apple Store, as mentioned by a number of websites, gives content creators at LEAST 70% of money made.
This isn’t the only problem. It may also bring back memories of the much-maligned horse armour DLC from the previous game in the series, Oblivion. Back then, Bethesda charged $2.50 of your real, hard-earned money for armour for a horse that had no practical benefit, and was barely seen anyway. I mean, how often did you ever ride a horse? We just fast travel everywhere!
Expect a LOT of the mods to be stuff in this vein. A crappy re-skin of existing armour in the game, or a weapon. A mod that turns the leather armour from brown to pink? $2 please!
There’s a “debut pack” full of premium items, costing £18.76/$28.68, and from what I can see, of the 17 mods in this pack, 10 of those are weapons and armour. Now, they may be visually different, they may be new models and fancy skins, but will EVERY weapon pack be like that? Will you end up paying money for a weapon pack, and get what amounts to the same sword in 50 different shades of grey?
One of the first paid-for mods has already had to be taken down, as it had ripped animations and possibly other assets from another mod. Is this the future? People selling stuff they’ve ripped off from another user? The guy whose mod was removed actually wanted to contact the original creator about using his work, but Valve itself forbade him, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement about the mere existence of the store. This is someone who is, effectively, well-meaning. A LOT of people won’t be, a lot of people will see nothing in ripping someone else off and trying to make a fast buck from it.
It’s gonna be a lot of work for Valve and/or Bethesda to actually police this thing.
I’m all for content creators having the option to make money off of what they create, whether it’s a whole game like Darkest Dungeon, or mods for existing games. I just fear that this will inspire less scrupulous folk to try and fleece money out of people by selling faulty addons and lifted scripts, terrible reskins and horse armour. I wonder if a 25% slice is even worth it to some people.
Paid for mods: Microtransaction Hell or modders’ Heaven?