Oh shit... Steam Workshop now allows mod authors to charge for them


You know who else writes “MODs”? Gabe Newell. Plot twist imminent.


“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” -Sun Tzu



I know [I]it[/I], better than [I]you[/I] do!

Of course. Anyone who is a [U][B]real[/B][/U] PC gamer, knows that. What’s for lunch?


I realized this week that modders are a nasty and aggressive group of people. Yea, I am a bit slow.

Game developers will have all their artistical sensibilities completely raped by this group of people.

If they carefully controlled the parameters, so their physical engine behave in a immersion-friendly way. They will create a weapon that shot trains.

If some scene is balanced so it make sense for the character in a cutscene to behave in a particular way, they will replace the character by a sea whale, that will explode into gibs and into space.

Because modders are jerks.

Probably all gamers are jerks.

Even console gamers are jerks that will happily laugh after a video of a monkey stealing a car in a modded game.

The way I see this, theres only two options:

a - Don’t sell your game to these people. So they don’t mod it.

b - Sell the game to these people, they will mod it. Call your ISP so they cut your access to the internet, and the nasty, indignatious things they do to game engines and resources.

As a modder, or exmodder myself… I have to say… “I am sorry”, we have unspeakable things in the past and must probably we will do in the future. Nothing will stop us.
This group of people will do any thing to a game/game engine for fun. They will stop for nothing just to have a laugh and some fun.


Erik Johnson and Robin Walker talk about the paid mods experiment.

For Skyrim in particular—with its vast, established modding community, rife with room for drama over attribution, combo mods, etc—Johnson feels like Valve also miscommunicated why they chose to do what they did. “If you look back specifically at the Skyrim situation,” he said, “while it wasn’t our intent, it was really easy to read that as, ‘Remember that thing you love? You pay money for that now.’ That’s an awful plan. That’s a terrible plan.”

“I think the magnitude of the reaction was also like, ‘Did Valve just turn evil on us?’” Johnson continued. “We don’t think we did, but we can see how it got miscommunicated that way. I know Robin will say this too, but it was one of the most awful weekends I’ve had working at Valve. It felt really, really terrible reading through all of that.”

The other big thing? No more stomping into colossal, legacied communities like Skyrim’s. That, Johnson and Walker agreed, was definitely a bad call. If they try again, they’ll likely start on the ground floor of something, though it won’t necessarily be a Valve game.

“I don’t think it matters whether it’s a game of ours or not,” said Johnson, “but I do agree that walking into a pre-existing, very mature community is probably not the best place to start.”


It’s pretty cool to see that level of self-awareness and candor about a really bad call.




Paid mods are coming to Steam someday. Valve just needs some time to figure out how to sell the concept to customers.

“The view that games are competing with each other is kinda incorrect,” said Newell. “In a lot of ways, nothing helps sell your game like other people building successful games. For people in the VR space, that is super-obvious. When somebody else comes out with a popular VR game and your sales get better, it’s super-obvious that there are these global [factors lifting up everyone].”

He argues that a popular mod has the same effect where it helps the sales of its base game. But he points out that when a mod creates value, its creator is not getting a fair allocation of the reward. And that throws a wrench into a connected economy where players should vote with their wallet about what they want to see more of. But if a mod creator receives almost no compensation, other creators may not see that as a valuable way to spend their time.[/quote]

“The Skyrim situation — well, it was a mess,” he said. “It was not the right place to launch that, and we did some hamfisted things in the way we rolled it out. But the fundamental concept that the gaming community needs to reward the people who are creating value is pretty important.”

Valve now says it needs to figure out a way to do it so that its customers buy into it while also keep mod developers happy because they’re getting a piece of the reward.

I also asked Newell and Johnson if they think Steam would have paid mods by now if they didn’t have the Skyrim blemish in their past.

“I think we would’ve,” said Newell.[/quote]


Me speaking with ice cream employee: "I know you guys don’t have them, but I have to say this ice cream would be even better with blueberries on it."
Customer sitting at a table nearby with the same ice cream flavor: “You know what? That’s a great idea. I have some that I picked up from the grocery store sitting in the back. I don’t mind sharing a few.” (goes and gets them, we sprinkle them on top of our bowls of ice cream)
Me: "That’s awesome!"
Customer: "Delicious!"
Store owner: “Wait, wait, wait - shouldn’t you get paid for those blueberries? And you’re sharing them in my store, so I should also get a cut.”

Me & other customer: “WTF?!?”

I don’t mind the idea of paying for mods. What I mind is the presumption that people should be paid for mods as if it’s some moral statement. In the above metaphor, if that person was from a nearby farmers ‘market and the store owner let them set up shop? Totally cool. I’d still probably get my blueberries from the grocery store 99/100 times, but hey - sometimes farmers’ markets have some awesome produce so the markup is worth it.


My first instinct would be to offer the blueberry donor money given that he just went and bought them for me. (If he already had some, that would be a different thing… )

I’m all for paid mods. I see it as being no different to paid games.

But I don’t think Gabe is saying you should pay for ALL mods, only for those that wish to sell them to you. I think it’s a bit disingenuous to take that line of thought.

Steam doesn’t even think you should pay for ALL games – there are plenty of free ones!


Agreed. Assuming I had it to give (which ostensibly I would if I went to an ice cream shop) and the town wasn’t filled with countless blueberry bushes on public lands for everyone to take what they want, I’d want to pay him back and then some. I just have issues with the shop owner inserting himself into the situation.

Dang it. Now I find myself wondering where the most blueberry bushes grow, and what the cost of living might be.


My concerns remain the same.

If I am going to pay for something, you’d better support it. If I am going to pay for something, you’d better not be taking assets from others who gave their work for free and sticking it in your mod and telling everyone you have a right to sell it when you don’t.


So he is asking the gaming community to reward Valve, right? Pretty honest.
I prefer to think that, than he would be cynical to the point of trying to claim they are doing it out of altruism for the poor modding kids out there.


As I’ve said in the past, the way to do this is to have developers work with the best modders for their games to release meaty, curated, and supported DLC-esque paid mods (like Bioware’s NWN premium module program) while continuing to offer amateur modding as a free, unsupervised content channel, perhaps with a built-in tip jar.


I have no problem with paid mods if the person who made the mod wants to be paid for his or her work. But there are those benevolent souls who prefer to do their labors of love in order to bring happiness into this world. So I say let it be left up to the creators of the mods as to whether or not they receive monetary compensation for their efforts.


You nailed it. Rimworld is the perfect case of this right now. There’s a modder named Fluffy who’s work borders on brilliant. I’d hate to play the game minus his interface additions. But he has a day job (and I’m guessing he’s great at it) and the problem with paid mods, his or not, is there is no guarantee, paid or not, they will or can continue their efforts with further releases. If the modder was paid for their work officially via DLC there would be no branching, no need for the dev to redo the work on their own, and biggest - no whinging and agonizing over a thousand different people screaming about their mods being broken with every new update. I can see developer paralysis in the future.


Maybe this is a stupid question… Would this affect mods that you already are using? In other words, what if half of the mods that I already use on, say, XCOM2 become paid mods? Do I have to pay or lose them?


It would depend heavily on the implementation. It was one of the big issues with the Skyrim paid mod rollout: there weren’t really any rules about how it was handled so a bunch of big mods immediately went paid and removed the free version from distribution, or released some sort of update that was only available in paid form. And charging for things that were previously free and haven’t meaningfully changed is never a good look.


LEGO sort of does this too. You can design your own sets and sell them on their website (I think). Not sure about user made LEGO video games/mods.


Ah. So that’s the Skyrim fiasco I was reading about.


My fear is that some of the best games out right now are almost just platforms for mods. Think about Minecraft, Factorio, Rimworld, and the like. Can they stand on their own? Certainly. Do mods make them eleventy hundred times better? I sure think so. In fact, I’d say some of these games owe their popularity to the mods (these may not be prime examples, but they came to mind).

Now what happens with paid mods? I’m not going to be happy to purchase a “platform” anymore. The game better be damn awesome right out of the gate, and much less of this early-access-mods-will-fix-it deal. Because I’m not going to pay for mods to fix something that should be in the game anyway. Indie games go away because they can’t get that early funding they need.

And what happens when a mod implements something bone-headedly obvious that the original developer adds to the base game? Do they now have to compensate the modder? Can they be sued? Does the game stay broken for fear of treading on a paid mod? This leads back to the game better be damn awesome from the get-go.

Pretty soon, games go back to being non-modable because of the risk.