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Valve allows modders to put price tag on Steam Workshop mods

Fireeye

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#1
Beginning with The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim, Valve has now given developers the opportunity to sell their mods rather than offering them for free, a move that some groups see as encouraging to modders and which supposedly may heighten both the quantity as well as the quality of mods for the game due to the financial incentives and the potential chance for modders to make modding into a full-time occupation.

However, the introduction of this system has been met with massive outrage by TES fans and general Steam users alike, with an online petition demanding to remove the system garning almost 100.000 signatures so far (see https://www.change.org/p/valve-remove-the-paid-content-of-the-steam-workshop)

The main arguments of those criticizing the option to demand money for mods are as follows:

1. Many players find the distribution of income generated by commercial mods to be unfair, as the modders themselves receive only 25% while the remaining 75% are split up between Valve and Bethesda/Zenimax Entertainment

2. The financial incentive, it is argued, will actually have lasting negative consequences for the modding community. Previously, the main incentive for creating mods was the modders' own enthusiasm for the game in question. With the potential to make money from mods, however, many modders may enter the community that do not care about the game but solely are in for financial gains, potentially leading to decreasing mod quality. In particular, it is feared that the option to make a quick buck will attract scam artists who upload nonfunctional or poor quality mods.

3. Content issues: Many TES fans still remember the absolute trainwreck that was the TES IV:Oblivion horse armor DLC, which was exactly what it said on the tin - a purely visual item that modders would easily provide for free. Likewise, many players now fear that modders may clog the market with thousands of cheap reskins or the like.

4. Stolen assets. There already has been a mod that had to be taken down because it used assets from a free mod without the author's consent, and given the financial incentive, this trend is unlikely to cease. While Valve states that each commercial mod will have to undergo a vetting process, many mods contain assets from dozens of different sources, and checking all of them would prove to be a nightmare even if Valve had a dedicated team for this issue alone.

5. Commercialization of essential mods: The team behind SkyUI, a tech mod required for many other (free) mods to run properly has already announced that the new version of their mods would require be commercial. Likewise, many fans fear that community bugfix mods, which have a long tradition in Bethesda games, may also become commercialized, forcing players to pay for the game once to have it and then to pay again to actually be able to play it without game-breaking bugs.

6. Effect on the developers: As the devs (or rather, the publisher) of TES V:Skyrim also gets its cut of the mods' sales, a potential scenario would be that developers will intentionally leave out game mechanics, resources or other objects from the base game in the hopes that they can later cash in on modders creating these assets.

As far as it regards me - I would argue that there are some mods which could plausibly be sold as proper DLC for the game (Sotha Sil Expanded for TES III: Morrowind or Nehrim for TES IV: Oblivion comes to mind, as each have at very least 15 hours of new gameplay), but I would rather have people being able to express their gratitude for those mods via donations - something which Valve allegedly is cracking down on in the Steam Workshops, as some mods that encourage users to donate to the modder if they liked the project were removed due to what is claimed to be ToS violations.

Edit: According to rumors, the next game that may feature commercial mods may be Kerbal Space program, a game that, notably, still is in Early Access.
 
Jan 3, 2013
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#2
All these improvements, yet it's still obvious that Valve became even greedier.

With new trend of allowing random tv shows being put on Steam, Valve seem to plan to turn it's platform into something like virtual shop for all sorts of online content, mostly ignoring the quality of the content ( there's almost 0 quality control on Steam, as long as content is not against official rules ), and keeping no-refund policy as much as possible, allowing some ''devs'' put their half-made software on it, getting cash and then leaving the game development, turning it into another abandon-ware.

Now, they want a new way of ''milking'' money - paid mod support. To make sure it's still Valve who gets the juiciest piece - only 25% of each purchase goes to developer of the mod. Everything else goes either to Valve or the creators of the game. Don't get me wrong, Valve does deserve some coin, both for keeping stuff up on servers and as their own tip, but taking 35% or more can't be considered as a tip at all.

Many may hate EA for being greedy, but in truth, Valve is far more greedy than any company out there. The difference is Valve made it's greed look like a charity, thanks to EA, Ubi and other game developers who follow old marketing ways and pricing system.
 
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Peetfighter

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#4
Now, they want a new way of ''milking'' money - paid mod support. To make sure it's still Valve who gets the juiciest piece - only 25% of each purchase goes to developer of the mod. Everything else goes either to Valve or the creators of the game. Don't get me wrong, Valve does deserve some coin, both for keeping stuff up on servers and as their own tip, but taking 35% or more can't be considered as a tip at all.
Gabe said it wasn't Valve who decided to take 75% of the money but the game itself.
 

RachniKiller

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#6
to be honest, modders don't have to sell their mods, you also don't have to buy the mods. further more people will likely find ways to pirate the mods anyway.
 
Jan 3, 2013
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#8
Do not worry - once money gets into steam it doesn't get out. There's no way for Valve lose in this because they aren't paying their own money.

As for entire program - I feel like they should had motivated or forced modders form a team of 3 or more, this way people would be supporting modding teams, instead of the individual. Team of modders would be considered as ''developers'' and would have to follow specific rules game developers are obliged to right now. It would also make sure mods would be of higher quality and mod makers would keep those mods up to date and fixed.
 

Underlord Vulukai

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#9
i don't know why everyone is so angry to Valve in particular about this, since quite honestly its the people themselves (modders, scam artists, etc) that would create an abusive version of the system. Obviously if someone makes AAA content for the game, giving them some form of compensation for that doesn't seem like a hugely bad idea, with the stipulation of course that they maintain and update with bugfixes said content (like any other paid developer)

As far as this vs donation system, ive seen several mod developers in the past have a "donator exlusive" page on their forums, which basically forced you to pay for the mod download anyway. Selling any kind of content as what amounts to DLC under a developers nose is fairly shady in and of itself, considering most game engines cost money to license for commercial usage. Most developers that ive ever had a chance to talk to don't really mind the idea of someone making money off of an awesome idea with their game, they just mind them getting the entire bundle, which is perfectly understandable. Some might argue that this would be like a person purchasing lumber or some other base good at a department store, and then building something to sell out of it. I guess i can kind of see this argument from that standpoint, but unfortunately this isn't the way the current legality is set up for licensing and such.

TLDR
Greedy people will always be greedy, they don't need any help from Valve to be the greedy assholes they already are.
 

Underlord Vulukai

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#11
after reading both responses to whats going on, i have to reiterate i feel what i said in my first post, that as Bethesda so aptly stated, this just gives people more choices as to how THEY want to go about distributing their mod. The amoeba that is the 'internet' seems to bully its way around a bit too much these days, especially lately with all the SJW/antiSJW warring, etc etc. Ultimately i feel everything should be left as a choice to each individual. When its the mod creator slapping the price label on these items though, again, why are people getting mad at literally everyone else, EVEN to the extent of acting like the modders themselves are the victims here?
 

Fireeye

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#12
after reading both responses to whats going on, i have to reiterate i feel what i said in my first post, that as Bethesda so aptly stated, this just gives people more choices as to how THEY want to go about distributing their mod. The amoeba that is the 'internet' seems to bully its way around a bit too much these days, especially lately with all the SJW/antiSJW warring, etc etc. Ultimately i feel everything should be left as a choice to each individual. When its the mod creator slapping the price label on these items though, again, why are people getting mad at literally everyone else, EVEN to the extent of acting like the modders themselves are the victims here?
If I get your question right, you are wondering why people go after Valve/Zenimax when it is the modders slapping the pricetag on the mods? Well, here's why:
1. For one thing, it is laughable that the modders would only gain 25% of the mod revenue (and only if the mod makes more than $1000, otherwise it all goes directly to Valve/Zenimax)
1b: "B-but Valve hosts the entire crap and Zenimax gave them the modding tools!"
1c: The first response may be true, but I've yet to see Valve collapse because of hosting costs in the long time the Steam Workshop has existed, plus the Steam Workshop is free advertising for them. As for Zenimax - the so-called "modding tools" are more or less just the same thing they used to make the base game, it is not as if they had to invest any additional resources into the creation kit other than the few tutorials they wrote for the thing.
Atop of that, modding always was one of THE main selling (and most direly needed) factors of TES games, and they would literally sell less units if the modding kit/dev tools weren't bundled with the game. You could reasonably say that the creation kit is a part of the base game, and that it would thus be a dick move for Zenimax/Bethesda to cash in on the products created with it. Long story short, it is painfully stupid for Zenimax to try and cash in on something they have little to do with other than voluntarily handing over the tools they used to make the base game to the modding community, knowing full well and expecting them to solve problems of the base games like in the form of bugfix patches.

2. As for the mod creators and the subject of choice - I think no-one in the playerbase would mind a simple donation button, quite on the contrary. The problems begin when stuff like SkyUI go commercial and you find out that half of your -free- mods suddenly no longer work because the creator of the aforementioned tech mod decided to be a dick by completely removing the free version and hiding it behind a paywall.
 
Apr 6, 2015
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#13
Some links for people who enjoy watching other people talk about this stuff.

This Week in Games: Steam Workshop Controvery

Personal Time With Greg: Mods, Art, and Money
 
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Underlord Vulukai

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#14
If I get your question right, you are wondering why people go after Valve/Zenimax when it is the modders slapping the pricetag on the mods? Well, here's why:
1. For one thing, it is laughable that the modders would only gain 25% of the mod revenue (and only if the mod makes more than $1000, otherwise it all goes directly to Valve/Zenimax)
So basically, what i take away from this is the fact that a mod developer is literally saying to himself "I can easily charge enough for my mod to make over $1000, thus backing MY decision as a mod developer to put a price label on my creation." You're looking past the point as many people are, that it isnt Zenimax or Valve making the decision to actually enable a price model on the mods in question, but the individual developers themselves. You may say that the tools themselves are in favor of the developer and Valve, as should they be, as its more or less a free hosting service donation button in the long run, IF the mod generates that much income.

Or, the more pessimistic alternative "I don't feel that i personally will make any money off of this in the long run, but really want to charge these dumbasses some money for all my hard work so fuck it."

"B-but Valve hosts the entire crap and Zenimax gave them the modding tools!"
1c: The first response may be true, but I've yet to see Valve collapse because of hosting costs in the long time the Steam Workshop has existed, plus the Steam Workshop is free advertising for them. As for Zenimax - the so-called "modding tools" are more or less just the same thing they used to make the base game, it is not as if they had to invest any additional resources into the creation kit other than the few tutorials they wrote for the thing.
Valve hosting the service has nothing to do with total tax load on their servers or upkeep cost so much as the exposure, as you stated 'free advertisement' of their mod, and accessibility that they are paying for with this particular model. Zenimax creating the 'modding tools' isn't nearly as important as Zenimax creating the 'game engine'. If the engine itself didn't exist, there would be no baseline to create the mods with. Some would argue that often times modders re-write code better than the original developers (more so in the case of TES games given their notoriously buggy nature) but all i find myself saying over and over again is, if you're that great at coding why not make your own game engine? Is the exact percentage value of the sales of the mods fair? That in the long run is determined by the mod developer choosing to host their mod for a price, and them doing so is in essence saying that they themselves are perfectly ok with the current pricing models.

Atop of that, modding always was one of THE main selling (and most direly needed) factors of TES games, and they would literally sell less units if the modding kit/dev tools weren't bundled with the game. You could reasonably say that the creation kit is a part of the base game, and that it would thus be a dick move for Zenimax/Bethesda to cash in on the products created with it. Long story short, it is painfully stupid for Zenimax to try and cash in on something they have little to do with other than voluntarily handing over the tools they used to make the base game to the modding community, knowing full well and expecting them to solve problems of the base games like in the form of bugfix patches.
How is it a dick move for the developer of the game to cash in? Most Developer Kits for game engines, the COMMERCIAL ones, typically cost at least a few hundred dollars, usually more depending on the popularity and versatility of the game engine itself. Doing it the way that they are here in steam, requires literally NO cash investment on the part of the developer itself, asking only for the first chunk of any profit made (1000 is really a small margin for something of huge quality on a game with the scope of skyrim, especially with what some of the mod developers were pricing their mods at)

2. As for the mod creators and the subject of choice - I think no-one in the playerbase would mind a simple donation button, quite on the contrary. The problems begin when stuff like SkyUI go commercial and you find out that half of your -free- mods suddenly no longer work because the creator of the aforementioned tech mod decided to be a dick by completely removing the free version and hiding it behind a paywall.
As far as having this versatility on steam itself, there are several legal reasons this will never happen barring a partnership between either Valve, the game developer for which whatever mod is in question, and the donation service being used, if not all three being in agreeance at once. As far as mod developers being a dick, they could just as easily do this regardless of the current tools. You have to ask yourself in the long run, who are you REALLY mad at? The people making a tool that can be misused, or the person misusing the tool that otherwise need not have a nefarious purpose? The artificial pay wall can be in place in the form of a 'donor exclusive forum page' where downloads of specific mods would be only available there. There are ways to circumvent this, and there always will be. We're talking about 'ideal' settings here though, not the reality as far as a mod developer having an opportunity to get some compensation for their hard work. All in all, the case in point here, regardless of our discussion, is that this was attempted with an established player base. The ideas themselves are great, and in a setting where all mods are fresh and new and supporting the mod developer directly is THE only option for getting a hold of it, this would work great. As for the current situation, its more like giving candy to a baby, then taking the candy away, then asking the baby for 20 bucks to give the half eaten candy back to it. Valve has already realized this situation, hence why they retracted the idea.
 

Fireeye

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#15
So basically, what i take away from this is the fact that a mod developer is literally saying to himself "I can easily charge enough for my mod to make over $1000, thus backing MY decision as a mod developer to put a price label on my creation." You're looking past the point as many people are, that it isnt Zenimax or Valve making the decision to actually enable a price model on the mods in question, but the individual developers themselves. You may say that the tools themselves are in favor of the developer and Valve, as should they be, as its more or less a free hosting service donation button in the long run, IF the mod generates that much income.

Or, the more pessimistic alternative "I don't feel that i personally will make any money off of this in the long run, but really want to charge these dumbasses some money for all my hard work so fuck it."
To clarify, I never said that I was particularly fond of the modders who moved their (formerly free) mods into the commercial sector - as mentioned in the initial post, I am very disappointed with the creators of SkyUI who screwed over thousands of players whose mods required the SkyUI mods to function properly. There are some few mods I'd be willing to pay for (Total Conversion like Nehrim for TES:Oblivion would come to mind), but I won't pay money for a shitty sword reskin or stuff like that.

That being said, I think the repeated claims of Valve and Zenimax that they want to support the modding community seem rather dishonest considering the modders themselves only get scraps. If memory serves, Apple has a similar system for apps where Apple itself only takes 8% of the revenue (though I might be wrong in this regard, please feel free to correct me).

Valve hosting the service has nothing to do with total tax load on their servers or upkeep cost so much as the exposure, as you stated 'free advertisement' of their mod, and accessibility that they are paying for with this particular model. Zenimax creating the 'modding tools' isn't nearly as important as Zenimax creating the 'game engine'. If the engine itself didn't exist, there would be no baseline to create the mods with. Some would argue that often times modders re-write code better than the original developers (more so in the case of TES games given their notoriously buggy nature) but all i find myself saying over and over again is, if you're that great at coding why not make your own game engine? Is the exact percentage value of the sales of the mods fair? That in the long run is determined by the mod developer choosing to host their mod for a price, and them doing so is in essence saying that they themselves are perfectly ok with the current pricing models.
As outlined in my quoted post, my main issue with this is that Zenimax would effectively charge the players who bought the game again every time the latter buys (and is stupid enough to buy) a commercial mod, in particular when it comes to bugfix mods which solve problems which shouldn't be in the game in the first place, despite of its massive scope. I do, however, acknowledge that the line between mod developers and third-party developers becomes extremely blurry once the mod developers decide to go commercial.


How is it a dick move for the developer of the game to cash in? Most Developer Kits for game engines, the COMMERCIAL ones, typically cost at least a few hundred dollars, usually more depending on the popularity and versatility of the game engine itself. Doing it the way that they are here in steam, requires literally NO cash investment on the part of the developer itself, asking only for the first chunk of any profit made (1000 is really a small margin for something of huge quality on a game with the scope of skyrim, especially with what some of the mod developers were pricing their mods at)
Except that Zenimax isn't selling modders an engine to make their own game. Instead, the mod developers already have to pay for the base game (plus any number of DLCs for additional assets) so they can make mods using said game, while Zenimax quite literally can just lean back and enjoy the cashflow, with no additional costs for the company other than that for the development of the game itself. The modders can not simply sell their mods without people having to buy Skyrim first.


As far as having this versatility on steam itself, there are several legal reasons this will never happen barring a partnership between either Valve, the game developer for which whatever mod is in question, and the donation service being used, if not all three being in agreeance at once. As far as mod developers being a dick, they could just as easily do this regardless of the current tools. You have to ask yourself in the long run, who are you REALLY mad at? The people making a tool that can be misused, or the person misusing the tool that otherwise need not have a nefarious purpose? The artificial pay wall can be in place in the form of a 'donor exclusive forum page' where downloads of specific mods would be only available there. There are ways to circumvent this, and there always will be. We're talking about 'ideal' settings here though, not the reality as far as a mod developer having an opportunity to get some compensation for their hard work. All in all, the case in point here, regardless of our discussion, is that this was attempted with an established player base. The ideas themselves are great, and in a setting where all mods are fresh and new and supporting the mod developer directly is THE only option for getting a hold of it, this would work great. As for the current situation, its more like giving candy to a baby, then taking the candy away, then asking the baby for 20 bucks to give the half eaten candy back to it. Valve has already realized this situation, hence why they retracted the idea.
Again, I never said that the modders who went commercial are innocent, quite on the contrary. However, I refuse to believe that either Valve, or Zenimax could not foresee the shitstorm that would result from enabling paid mods, and I refuse to believe that they did this because they wanted to help the modding community. They wanted to squeeze more money out of their customers, and ideally with minimal effort on their part. So what do you do? You allow modders to make commercial mods (despite of knowing they and you will get shat upon), take the lion's share of the entire mess, and then claim you do it to help the modding community grow. And the dear corrupt gaming journalists will immediately jump to your side and run the old "gamers are so entitled" crap.

Other companies at least would be honest enough to admit that they're giving their assets to a third-party company because they want to make money off it, but no, you have to allow for paid mods so you can monetize the game a bit more and then claim you do it for the modding comunity.

TL/DR: The modders are by no means innocent in this drama, but they need the allowance of Valve and Bethesda to exploit the system. And the latter merrily gave said allowance in the hope of making just a bit more money off a game they already sold.
 
Mar 16, 2015
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#16
At the end of the day, the whole mess showed that gaming as an ecosystem [gamers, creators, etc] simply isn't responsible enough to take the idea seriously or to be considerate of anyone other than themselves. I love the idea of a skilled modder being able to do it for a living, and the industry is absolutely littered with "Modder to Professional" success stories...SG is one of them! But as Early Access [or as Jim Sterling put it, "Babby's First Game"] and the Android App Store have shown, a "wild west" where the community is expected to do the curation simply doesn't work. When money is involved, the creator needs to be held accountable...and that means there needs to be someone with the authority to enforce that accountability. Mob Rule is proven to not work.

It looks like Valve decided their cut was their cut was their cut, and their payout terms were their payout terms were their payout terms [which is $400, not $100; they only disburse over $100], no matter whether you're selling games or DLC [which is the [][][][]ing contest that saw EA leave and start Origin] or home-made hats or for a couple-day period, mods. So be it. Bethesda's take read more like 'Well, they're already only getting 25% on Workshop stuff, surely they won't get upset if we take the rest...', and that made my skin crawl a little bit.

The whole idea of the game-maker getting a piece in the first place [and I realize saying this on a game developer's forum may not be the wisest thing I've done lately] is something that unnerves me, given that there's mods out there to fix bugs the devs didn't/won't/can't [leaving room for the "we haven't gotten to it yet", "it's not important to us", and "we've already been reassigned to a different project" distinction]. The honest devs it won't be a problem with, but I see the scam artists and juggernauts extending "crap it out now, patch it later" to be "crap it out now, get paid when somebody else fixes it".

The idea of "X could make me rich!" brings out the worst in people. :(
 
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