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Steam, Modding, and Valve+Bethesda's Experiment
Posted on April 24, 2015 at 17:24

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.

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