Valve decides to tweak the rules a bit, and mayhem follows.
Modding is an integral part of PC gaming- a lot of modders spend hours and hours of their lives to enhance and improve their favorite PC games, adding to their replay value, and doing it solely out of their love and dedication for the game. Some of the most successful PC games of all time are those that embraced mods. Some of the most successful PC games of all time are games that began as mods, such as League of Legends, Counter strike, Day-Z, and more.
So when Valve announced that they would be allowing modders to charge money for their creations – only on a limited basis, specifically, limited to the Steam Workshop for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – it seemed like an intriguing move, one that could pan out either way.
It panned out terribly. Overnight, a schism seems to have developed between the modding community and the PC gaming community, when before they were one and the same. As a matter of fact, this was the sentiment that prominent modder FilthyCasual expressed on the Steam forums:
“First, Valve, you have now made “modder” a dirty word here on the steam forums almost overnight. Thanks a bunch. You have now divided PC consumers and modders, when we used to be a pretty tight bunch,” he began. “Second, I now see mods going up that are little tiny swords and whatnot going up for sale. Bundles already that cost more than the game itself. In other words, I am concerned about a complete influx of mods that are completely useless and tiny and unsupported and updated, just because of money-grabbers who want a piece of the pie.”
The problems, according to him, don’t end there. He continues:
“Third, this leads to microtransaction hell. Hell for consumers, and a deluge of stuff to compete against for us modders. This isn’t healthy competition. It is gonna be cutthroat. Thanks again for taking the fun out of it.
“Fourth, there will be inevitable stealing of other’s people’s content and then selling it as their own. Some may claim that because they modified another mod’s content, they now have created their own mod and are free to sell. I disagree. They are making money at the expense of others.
“Fifth, you have a “return policy,” if it is even worth of the name, that is full of holes. First, 24hrs isn’t much time to test if a mod will glitch out or not. Ever heard of a standard 14 or 30 day return policy? Let’s say a consumer buys a mod, then one week later the modder releases an update. This update has a bug, and the game crashes or glitches out. Then let’s say, for whatever reason (even a good one. Like real life got in the way) the modder doesn’t release an update to fix the bug. Before today, big deal. You could either uninstall the mod or revert to a previous version. Given it was free, most people wouldn’t complain too much. But NOW, a consumer will likely be stuck with a useless piece of software they paid good money for. Software that now is worth zilch. They will be, understandably, really upset, with no way to get their money back.
“Lastly, you, Valve, are likely hurting good, legal sites like Nexus Mods as some greedy people take their mods, or the “premium versions” off the site in favor of posting to the Steam Workshop.””
It’s a thorough and exhaustive list of everything that can go wrong with the process, and so far, everyone seems to be agreeing with him on this. The biggest issue is that his words appear to be already coming true- Valve has already had to take down a paid mod that went live on Steam, because it was using Fores New Idles assets (Fores, for the record, has also spoken out against paid mods).
On the whole, this counts as a misstep from Valve, and one that the community seems to be entirely too eager to get them to reverse- Valve did not think this one through, and it sounds like it will do PC gaming more harm than good. Hopefully they either reverse this idea, or make it less detrimental to the PC gaming experience in the long run. We’ll see.