Valve have managed to not only stir up a hornet’s nest, they then set the hornets on fire and proceeded to do this with several other hornets nests. I feel this is an accurate portrayal of the explosion of backlash surrounding their Steam paid mods.
I’m sure you’ve all seen the drama surrounding this, and what has caused it. But in case you just woke up from hibernation, I’ll recap.
Basically, you can now charge for mods on Steam. The only game to support this right now is Skyrim, but if this goes smoothly for Valve (which atm it is most certainly not) we can expect more. So what’s the issue? This let’s modders get their dues for some seriously amazing work, right? Not really. Let me explain why, and let me just clarify that I am not a modder myself, but I do love mods. Mods are one of the best parts of PC gaming, and I don’t want to see it dragged down this path.
So let’s begin.
In this instance, 75% of the cut of each sale is NOT going to the modder. It’s going to Valve and Bethesda. Now, it’s more than fair that the developer get a slice, it is their game after all, but this is extortionate. How much the developer gets will vary on a dev by dev basis, but in this instance this is what’s happening every time a mod makes a sale;
Excellent Skyrim Mod costs $3
Valve takes $1 (30%)
The remaining $2, Bethesda takes $1.50 (75%) and gives the Moder $0.50 (25%)
So, essentially, the modder is getting 16% of the sale value. Pretty bad, right? That’s not where it stops, though. This isn’t just an issue of modders getting shafted, oh no. That would make the issue too simple.
This is a seriously slippery slope for numerous reasons. From the consumer side of things, this turns any game with paid mod support into a microtransaction hellscape. Whereas you could install say, a mod that gives you a lightsaber in Skyrim for free, it now costs $1 (just an example). Imagine that, but times it by the literal hundreds of mods available for Skyrim. Not all of them will charge money, but what will happen is, you’ll get people churning out basic sword or character skins to get a piece of the pie, even if the piece has been trodden on a few times by guys in big shoes.
It’s also going to be bad for modders as well. Already there has been a case of a mod for Skyrim being removed because it used another mod’s content without permission and then sold it. As we all know, there is little quality control on Steam, so what’s to stop somebody from taking a mod, tweaking it the tiniest bit and then profiting off someone else’s work?
This next point is gonna be awful from both the modder and gamer’s perspective, so buckle up. They have a return policy in place, which sounds great until you see that it is 24 hours. 24 hours?! What good is that to anybody? It takes much more time than that to realise that a mod you just paid money for reacts badly with another mod, and glitches out your game. Or, let’s say it works at the start but then the mod or the game itself is updated and then the mod breaks. It’s probably been way more than that measly 24 hours at this point, but too bad, sucks to be you.
And as I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t even reward modder’s work. Not really. Not just because they see so little of the revenue, but because the cut is so small, the only way the modder makes any real cash is if they have a huge following of fans or the mod is stupidly popular. Or, it could just be someone knows how to manipulate social media to spread the word and get good ratings for something that is a load of balls. You know, kind of like Greenlight.
To finish up, this is going to be seriously bad for mod portals like the Nexus. Not only is it gonna see certain types of people removing their mods from there and having them only available via paid Steam mods, what’s to stop big companies like Bethesda shutting it down? They won’t want to see people offering mods for their game for free, not when they can be uploaded on Steam and they get a cut. So what will they do? Probably sic THE LAWYERS.
So, to finish: VALVE THIS IS AN AWFUL IDEA WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?. Having a donate button would have been much better for people to support their favourite modders, and it wouldn’t come with all these horrible strings. There is a petition going around for Valve to remove this, so if you agree, SIGN IT.