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.


Alert Games 9 years, 1 month ago

I was just thinking, maybe they should have the option to charge a specific amount, but also have the ability to gift it for free or something.

The main problem I have with it aside from the compatibility problems is that there's bound to be at least one situation where I feel a mod is overpriced, just like DLC, and I'll refuse to give them my money. The problem is, there are people that will throw their money at it and then try it then never play it again just because, which encourages them to keep it that way.

I don't think i'm alone on this issue, but it is only circumstantial and unfortunate.

Also I do think that the game creator should receive a cut, but 45% is extreme, I'm sorry. They have to make a game and not depend on mods as part of their income. I think 25% is reasonable IMO. (However, if their plan was to start with high cuts than decrease them to be more reasonable, that would be a bloody great strategy right there)

I think this problem probably started with Rockstar is my guess. They want an incentive to allow people to mod the game, but I feel that a moddable game is more incentive to actually buy the game, and thus taking such a big cut seems like a slap in the face to me, and also may shift the focus to profits rather than just making the game more fun for pure amusement, just like Forge mode in Halo, or custom games in other games.

Astryl 9 years, 1 month ago

It's unlikely that Valve will completely give up on this; they'll probably quietly release a revision of this idea later this year, possibly in a small way on one of their own games.

So far, this is just the cancellation of paid mods for Skyrim. I think Bethesda got cold feet at the community reaction. Valve, on the other hand, is used to having the community lash out at them regularly, and generally ignore stuff like this.

We'll see what happens.

LAR Games 9 years, 1 month ago

Quote: SevenOBrian
So yeah, you won. Congratulations.
The ONLY way this could have been a good thing is if Valve somehow made the integration of mods equal or better to how Mod Organizer does it. That way, there's no way to mess up your Skyrim installation. Not to mention the pay what you want system starting at free.

However even if they did that, it would still kinda be a bad thing since I'm sure nobody would put mods on the Nexus anymore.

Toast 9 years, 1 month ago

Valve themselves have said they will look for the right moment to reintroduce it. They said the problem was that Skyrim had an established mod community.

So expect to see it back along with some new game like Fallout 4 or something


In general it's not a bad thing, but what people are reacting to is the realisation that Steam is a slippery slope, it's not an open market like they pretend, Valve have control over absolutely everything.

The genius of Steam is that contained within it is massive amounts of capital and investment from its users, and they get pretty upset when they realise it's not worth what they thought it was. In fact just like currency it isn't worth jack shit in reality, it's imaginary, it's a promise that Valve will keep providing services.

LAR Games 9 years, 1 month ago

If those two things I mentioned were done, I think it would actually be great to have for Fallout 4. As long as you always had the ability to return a broken mod. That's also a concern.

If done for Fallout 4, nothing is being taken from anyone like the Skyrim Nexus would have been, because it doesn't even exist yet.

Alert Games 9 years, 1 month ago

It will be interesting to see how they do introduce paid mods in the future, cause it is going to happen. But I'd rather the game dev's not depend on mods and DLC to make their games enjoyable, because then I am not going to spend above and beyond for entertaining 'features'. If I buy GTA V for $60, I don't want to spend much more money modding the game further, unless most of the money is going to the modder, not to R*. Their job is to make the game the way it should be without any additions.

Anyway, its a good idea, but I fear it can also be dangerous, because people will overspend their money without thinking about it.

Acid 9 years, 1 month ago

Overspending is the entire goal, I think. But the good news is that there will always be a free version of all of the good features… Just maybe a bit more shoddy.

Hopefully modders get some decent bank out of this, but another thing I dislike is segregating the mod market for people who own the same games. We already have to agree on a game to play and in the near future we'll have to think about which mods to have everybody get or which ones to leave off die to cost. Kinda sucks, but not the end of the world.