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Mini Post: The (Not-So-Graceful) Death of Paid Mods

April 28, 2015

So you may or may not have heard earlier this week, Valve tried to introduce a pay-for-mod section in the Skyrim workshop. Of course. there would still be mods that you could download and use for free, but along side that there would be mods with varying degrees of prices–some at a fixed price, others with a “pay-what-you-want” feature. The idea was, according to Bethesda and Valve, was to give mod authors a chance to earn a bit of income with their creative efforts into modding Skyrim.

…Of course this failed miserably on all fronts.

First off, the modding community as a whole felt threatened this would spell the end of free mods. There was a fear that pay for mods would become the new norm. Or perhaps certain mod authors would remove their formally free mods and put them as pay for only. Perhaps free mods would eventually be removed all together…

Then there was the 24 hour guarantee, that if you weren’t satisfied with your purchase, or the mods was broken, you could get a full refund within that time period. But who’s going to know if their recently installed mod is going to conflict with anything right away? Sure, sometimes with mod problems you’d get CTD on launch…but a of the times a conflict isn’t so obvious. It could even sneak right by you until much later, and by that time you’ve gotten the dreaded “corrupted save”. Urgh.

And on top of that, mod authors would only get a 25% pay out for their creations, so even if their mod is $2 they’d only get about 50 cents. Valve gets 35%, and Bethesda gets the remaining 45%. Personally I’m not too upset by this, it is Bethesda’s property, but I’ve read the author only gets paid if there’s a minimum cash out of $100…so a mod has to at least make $400 for it to be profitable. What.

So of course, Valve was spammed with angry messages from the Skyrim community. Bethesda as well, both trying to explain they only wanted to help mod creators, to help encourage the community to grow even more, and to give modders more incentive to keep on creating things for their favourite game. What it ended up looking like was a quick cash grab. “Oh hey, look how crazy popular Skyrim still is, the modding community is still going strong, let’s monetize n that!”

I think what most people would have prefered was a straight “donate” button, or maybe more of a fair split to the mod creator and Valve/Bethesda (maybe a 40/60 split would be good, 40 the modder). But what do I know? The only mods I’ve paid for were official DLC, other than that I’m a cheap ass motherfucker. I wouldn’t buy a mod.

Either way, the paid workshop was promptly removed just a few days later, with an apology from Bethesda and Valve over the whole thing, saying “perhaps this wasn’t the right time, or the right way to introduce paid mods”. You can read Valve’s response, and Bethesda’s here.

Either way, this bit of controversy is behind us. But still, enjoy this video of Skyrim Mods Weekly. It pretty much sums up the community’s response in a less than 10 minute video, with a quite humorous tone.

What’s your opinion on paying for mods?

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