Steam, Modding, and Valve+Bethesda's Experiment

Posted by Kenon on April 24, 2015, 4:24 p.m.

To put it lightly, people have been having one hell of a knee-jerk reaction over the fact that Valve has now implemented the ability to charge for a mod to a game (for Skyrim only right now).

So a big thing that is painfully obvious by Valve is that if you have been listening to them since TF2 gained the Workshop, Valve has been looking for ways to speed up automation for community driven content over Steam. This is a major step, akin to creating a sort of "app store"-esque automated system for mods.

I think the biggest one is that people are screaming about how Valve and the developers take 75% of the money from the modders. This is coming as a shock to a lot of people, seeing Valve in such a greedy light.

This cut is the exact same cut as literally any of the other community created content for valve games. If you create a hat for TF2 and it gets included in the game, you only make 25% of the sales. No one that I know of has screamed that that is a morally wrong thing, and often some of these take a lot of manpower to do. Maybe not quite as much as a mod, but often hats don't sell for as much as some mods can.

I think people treat this more as a thing of "Oh, Valve is being greedy" instead of "Oh, Valve is enabling content creators to profit off their work". I get this, modding has always been free generally for the people of the games. They still end up being free for a lot of situations. People will pay for what they think is worth it, honestly. If people think accurate horse genitalia in Skyrim is worth $99, then they'll pay that, even as a joke. A big thing is that guy is making $24.99 every time someone decides that they want to buy it.

And if you have an issue with Valve+Bethesda making 75% off of the sale of the thing, Valve makes 75% off any item sale in tf2.

Personally, I think the biggest issue that arises now is the potential compatibility issue with mods. A lot of mods don't like to work together very well, and it can end up being a bit of a pain with the way the current system is. I think this is the most pressing issue of the system, but I think this onus comes down to the fact that mods exist as a differentiated entity, and I don't think that this can be fixed very easily. Allowing easy refunds is not a system that can exactly, uh, work for Valve financially if they attempt it with, oh, Dota 2.

I personally think this system that Valve has isn't flawless, but it is a right step in the direction of allowing modders to profit from their work for games without microtransactions built in. For a game that is single-player, I actually don't see a better system than community-based QA with a rating system. It comes down to the diligence of the community for them to decide if they want to spend the money on the kind of DLC that exists. It comes down to the onus of the consumer.

I know that I remember downloading mods for Oblivion that were so impressive that I would have paid money for them. Things that overhauled many of the systems of the games and created extra content. There exist mods out there like the Australia civilization mod for Civ V: BNW that I would feel ok with paying for. This is the kind of mod that the system is targeted towards.

I started typing this and I forget what I was going to say because I barked at the tf2m chat for a while.


LAR Games 9 years ago

Mods are different than models. (Which I assume is what is sold in TF2)

Mods need to be updated, and supported. What if you buy a mod, and a month later it no longer works? You just wasted some money there, son.

I'm with you that some mods are so impressive they make you think you would have payed for them, but let me ask you this. Would you have even downloaded it at all if you had to pay for it before even experiencing it?

Kenon 9 years ago

Speaking that I think of mods as more akin to DLC and that I have bought DLC without playing it, yeah I would if it looked impressive enough.

And I mean more like the "I bought Spain in Civ V" DLC and not the "I bought that Skyrim expansion that added in vampires" DLC. (I was assuming you meant more of the second one when you said the "download at all thing", which I consider as a more substantive mod)

And for the "Mod not working" thing, for the modder to continue to make a profit from a mod, he'd have to make sure it works at least, obviously. This is on the onus of the modder and if he is interested in continuing to make money off his mod assuming it doesn't work, he'll try to fix it. Just from an economic standpoint, it makes sense to update it.

flashback 9 years ago

I'm totally cool with the cut for the game developer: After all, it's their work you're extending.

LAR Games 9 years ago

I liked the suggestion somebody made on reddit. Make it a pay what you want with the minimum being 0 dollars. That way it's free with the option of paying for stuff you support.

I'd like to add the feature of being able to go back and add to your initial payment though. Just in case you think it's worth more than you initially paid for.

However, that doesn't solve the problem of people removing their mods from the Nexus to add them to the workshop so they can make money.

I like mod organizer a lot. Steam workshop is a terrible mod management tool.

Kenon 9 years ago

Valve+Bethesda reversed it. Cue Round 2 in like 3-4 months.

Acid 9 years ago

Round 2:

- Announce it before hand

- MAYBE give the dev a better cut or allow donations

- Explain where the other 75% of the money goes (since dumb people are like VALVE IS TAKING THE BIGGEST CUT AND ARE DICKS)

- Better promotion (Again, dumb people were misunderstanding and freaking out MODS ARE PAID NOW - WHY NO FREE)

Either way: I hated the idea at first, like everyone else, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that people who want to create good, free content are going to do it anyway… and it doesn't hurt to support the people who make the stuff you enjoy.

Cpsgames 9 years ago

I didn't think they were going to give in, but I'm glad they're at least listening. I'm not sure what I thought about it really. One side of me hates change and the other side of me sees the good in it. Developers could cut a lot of content out of their games and leave it to the modders while they profit from providing less, but then developers might also go out of their way more to provide more and better mod tools on their games. Of course there's a bunch more to this whole thing, but this was making me think the most out it all.

Oh well, let's just keep to what works.

LAR Games 9 years ago

We won guys! We won.

Kenon 9 years ago

I pretty much saw it as the second thing Acid pointed out. Money in the system increases the quality of stuff. Look at TF2 cosmetics/weapon reskins (Reskins before and cosmetics afterwards) and you'll see a DRAMATIC shift in quality for the better.

They'll want to toy around with it again. I'm waiting to see with what Valve comes up with, though I hope Bethesda isn't squeamish about its failure.

Valve is pretty used to this kind of shit happening occasionally, so I don't figure they're gonna back down from what they think was a good intention fundamentally. (See: Steam, Diretide 2014)

LAR Games 9 years ago

My biggest problem with the idea was that the Steam workshop is TERRIBLE for modding Skyrim. Mod Organizer is where it's at.

Steam Workshop doesn't have nearly the same amount of tools that are currently used for modding, and if the best mods start showing up there exclusively then shoot, that sucks.