The feature, which launched for 2011’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, lets fans of games introduce new items, characters, environments, or even gameplay rules in exchange for a few bucks. Said fans have already been doing so for free for years, but now there’s monetary incentive to keep going — or even invest more time than previously made sense.
Whereas digital stores typically take a fraction of the sales they process — say, Apple’s 30% on app sales an in-app puchases — Valve has decided to take 75% from each sale of paid mods. That amount is then split between Valve and the publisher or developer behind the original game.
That split is one of the sticking points emerging as an issue in Reddit threads and posts on the Steam Community, but it’s certainly not the only one, as many understand it’s a prerequisite to get studios interested in letting others profit from the games they make.
If you dig into the complaints made by modders, most discuss the ill-effects the option could have on the broader PC game modding scene. This post by Steam user “FilthyCasual” (and the 200+ responses) hits many of the major pain points:
- The ability to make quick cash is going to draw in opportunists looking to profit from people excited about new stuff to play with, increasing the amount of noise you’ll have to sift through to find quality content.
- There’s plenty of high-quality work out there available for free on Steam and third-party mod sites, and there’s no way to stop some of the aforementioned opportunists from copying that work and selling it as their own.
- Third-part mod sites like Nexus Mods are ad-supported — if paid mods steal too much interest away from the existing ecosystem, it could have serious consequences for beloved community resources.
- Mod makers who previously offered free content may switch to paid models, cutting off a tap of free stuff to play with that many had become accustomed to.
- Valve is giving users 24 hours to decide if they want to keep a mod they paid for, which may not be enough time to check whether the content will work (without bugs) with your other mods in games with hundreds of hours of gameplay.
Earlier today, the paid mods available for Skyrim were temporarily made unavailable, leading some to speculate that Valve was already pulling the feature based on the backlash from the community. Those downloads have since been restored, though we’ve reached out to Valve for clarification on whether the downtime was a bug or the result of backend changes to the platform.