Interesting. You would think this would be the kinda guy the Ludeon dev would send dollars his way to keep him going with the money that is being made there. It will be a shame when it is all said and done, if he has the 'satisfaction' of making mods but is still working at the local Mickey-D's, especially when Ludeon has continually had posted that they are looking to hire someone creative like that. So to some degree his contribution is perceived to not be of much value by the dev if he is not supporting him for the time he could put into it.
I have seen you @jpinard recently express how much you like the game publically, and some of that could be due to these mods. So who is responsible for this value (of the mod)? In the RimWorld case, is it Ludeon or is it Fluffy? I am sure the answer is both to some degree, as RimWorld does have an interface for modding that was designed and developed, but is Fluffy's contribution zero? and how does his contribution differ from some one else that just makes a five minute mod where the colonist are always happy?
And then there is the mod within a closed system where I looked and learned about how the program works through a hex editor...is the modder's contribution 100%? Though I believe mostly these days are gone, as people expect the ability to mod a game in many cases.
Mods can enhance a game and give it more life and goodwill and thus gives it value. I believe Mods occur beyond someone screwing around when a game's community has reached what I will call "Critical Mass' where they want to share enhancements with each other. Then they get iterated on. Then there is some level of "work" performed by the modder. Traditionally modding has been a fan energy enterprise, with no expectation of return value other than satisfaction - but this has changed as we hear about modders offered work with dev companies and other cases where people say you have to use a certain mod to enjoy a game..
And you bring up the good point of mods being "unsupported" in that they may break, wither and die in the future. If a particular mod is very loved and popular, I think this is a bad move by a dev to not help support it through a change - but you are right in that complicates development.
Other cases I have seen where a modders popular changes have been incorporated into a game without a modder being compensated. Does a modder have any claim to compensation here? Could it be that perhaps in order to charge for mods, it should somehow be an agreement between dev and modder where the former pays the latter in exchange for the right to sell the mod? And who does have rights to the unique ideas contained within the mod itself? And if you are selling a mod, does it really needs to be like DLC where it is seamlessly integrated into the product?
Somehow these questions need to be resolved for the value to be properly assessed/valuated and for the selling of certain mods to work.
I think the whole mod business is already so set and traditional that it is like people mucking with how the Internet works. People get really pissed at it when someone is trying to change it so they can monetize on it in another way - but that will not stop them from trying. Valve does not care who makes the value, they only want to market it because they have already established their cut. I think they will continue to attempt this and continue to muck it up until the question of individual value is figured out.