The PC gaming side of the internet had an explosion yesterday with the with Valve’s announcement of their launching of the paid player generated mods for Skyrim, with the Fallout and future games in mind. The internet is not happy about this business move from Valve and Steam, and rightfully so.
Mods has been a staple to one of the best arguments for choosing PC gaming over console gaming, on top of the over all better hardware and software systems that PCs has over the consoles; the backwards compatibility to play any game from your childhood to the most recent AAA title that launched last weeks, the community mods scene were always the third corner to the trifecta of PC gaming, breathing countless additional hours of game play back into those year old games. Skyrim and Fallout are almost synonymous with their mods, from their graphical improvements to the novelty mods, people like myself will buy the game for the mods instead of the main game.
But Valve’s asking the community to start pumping out paid content, by installing a forcing a new market into the Steam Workshop seems….greedy at best and evil at worst.
This one move might cause serious repercussions within the greater gaming world. We might see mods artists who do this for free, or because it is a passion project, be pressured to monetized by Steam and by the market to get recognized. Also we now open up a can of worms within the modding scene about money, because money always complicates everything,and questions that are now raised that were never asked until yesterday.
First there was the reveal that Valve/Steam takes a 75% cut of all paid mod’s profits and there is a $100 payout limit so only time that a paid modder can cash out all their earnings is when they make $100, or to put it the other way, when their mod programs grossed $400 or more in the market place.
Why is Valve taking 75% off the transaction? Valve mentioned that it is going to be split between Valve, for hosting the program on their servers and the game company of the vanilla game but what is the spit between companies? Why is the cut so high?
With the fact that Steam now has a premium mods that are behind a paywall, will we now start to see Steam start to phase out or DRM lock games to only use steam approved/bought mods? The biggest competition to valve right now is NexusMods which has thousands and thousands of mods available for free, and the easiest way to stop that competition, to gain maximum profits, would be to ban those third party mods from the games the Valve hosts.
How will steam make sure that these mods actually work with the main game? This is now a product sold by steam and now there is some responsibility of product assurance because unlike proper DLC, which is made and QA’d by the same team that made the game, mods are community made and they might be coding something that breaks something deep within the game’s engine. How will Steam handle the complaints from the paying community when a published mod does not work, or worst when a the game patches with an update and waves and waves becomes obsolete?
The funny thing is that I, and we the gaming community, would not be demanding these questions if Valve did not make this one move to build a paywall but these questions. but these type of questions needs answers in order to build trust for this new market. I guess, in hindsight, we saw the prototype to paid mods back with community made hats and cosmetic items sold in the marketplace in TF2 and Dota 2 respectfully, but this entire paid mod program looks like crowd sourced microtransactions for single player games, which is something I would see from EA.
Be MOP focuses on the world of videogames with my own reflections about the current news and developments that happens throughout the gaming industry. Updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays