In late April, Valve announced that they were going to start allowing modders to sell their work, starting with Skyrim. That hadn’t been the first time that Valve permitted the sale of mods. In January, according to the Verge, developers got to vote on which modders could sell, making it a lot more selective. The April announcement made it the first to do an open market. However, after a few days of outrage, Valve shutdown the whole experiment. No more paid Skyrim mods.
In a way, I’m glad that the Steam community got together and petitioned for a change. I always applaud it when gamers can come together and get things done. In the end, though, I actually would have liked to see modders starting to charge for their work. Obviously, the way Steam implemented the whole thing originally didn’t work. They needed quality assurance, trusted modders, and price-setting to start out. Let’s look beyond the implementation problems for a moment, though, and look at the core issues of allowing modders to get paid. I still think that it is a good idea and here’s why:
Modders should be compensated for their work.
Most modders do an amazing job and spend a lot of their time making their mods amazing. Shouldn’t they be allowed to charge for their work? In reality, the modding community is one of the freshest things in gaming. There is a pool of talented people out there that spend their time and effort so that others can enhance their gaming experience. I don’t see why it is horrible to finally allow them to be compensated for their efforts. In any other scenario, if a person produces something that someone else wants, they have the option of selling it. Why isn’t this true for modders as well? Besides, this isn’t the big gaming industry getting the money; it’s the little guy. I really hope that if modders get compensated for their work, they will produce even more and better things.
Not all modders would be charging.
I really haven’t seen anything about Valve pushing people to charge for mods. That means that there will still always be many awesome free choices. I’m sure that there are a lot of modding purists out there who would never think of charging for their mods. Good for them. Steam users will then have the option of choosing to purchase mods or get them for free (just like the Apple Store or the Google Play Store with apps). If you don’t want to purchase a mod, there will be plenty of others for free.
No one is forcing you to mod your game.
I’m a bit confused by all of the brouhaha because modding isn’t something that anyone is forcing a player to do. In fact, Skyrim players on console don’t even get that option. It’s just some of the PC gamers that are having a meltdown right now. The last time that I checked, Skyrim is a pretty darned complete game (so are all of the other Bethesda RPGs). A player could spend a thousand hours on it easily without mods or even the “official” DLCs. I don’t see how the modding community is affecting anyone’s ability to play the game. Besides, if you don’t like the way Steam is going, then get it on console. Or find a way to get a standard PC version of Skyrim and figure out how to mod it yourself the old way. Don’t like the old way of modding your game because it involves more work? Then STOP COMPLAINING about Steam. The ability to add a mod in a few clicks is one of the reasons why I use Steam.
Now, with that said, there are a few things that would change my mind about the pay for mod model:
If Valve starts charging for access to the Steam Workshop, I would pretty much be done with Steam. The Steam Workshop IS one of the reasons why I purchase my games through this platform instead of outright just buying the game.
If Valve insists every modder must charge, I would be very unhappy. I don’t think this is going to be the case. I think that the model will look more like how Apple and Google are doing their App Stores.
Bethesda (or other developers) charge for access to the game code. I will have to admit that Bethesda has been AWESOME about allowing modders access to the game’s code. I hope that this trend continues, and that other developers do the same thing.
Steam also needs makes sure that the mods are decent and stable enough for players to buy, and Steam should also check to make sure people aren’t stealing other people’s work.
So, I think it’s about time to give these talented modders some incentive to keep doing the amazing job that they are doing. And if you don’t like it, vote with your wallet and don’t buy these mods or buy from Steam.
Besides, let’s rejoice in the fact that there are games good enough out there to spawn a huge modding community, so that people can put their own twist on the game. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out in late 2011, and I STILL play it like mad. Eventually, other games will have the pay-for-mod method, but I have a feeling that it will be for amazing games that people would actually care about. It will end up extending the life of the game by purchasing mods. I do not equate mods to what the gaming industry is doing to DLCs. Besides, this is the “little guy” who is selling them.