Archive | April, 2015

Valve needlessly fractured the modding community

29 Apr

Skyrim Mod DeathWow, that was quick. The negative backlash over paid mods was so huge that it forced the hand of Valve almost overnight. Anyone that purchased paid mods is being refunded and Valve is having to sit in the corner and think about what they did. The crazy part thing about this that it didn’t have to become a shit storm. Valve simply didn’t do their homework and they blindsided the community with the concept of paid mods.

Let’s be clear; I’m not a modder nor extensively modded any of my games, but I’ll all for modders getting paid for the work they do. If they do good work, yeah, pay them. If they are adding depth and intrigue to a game, they should definitely be making a living.Gerry Rich

I know I probably went over this in my last post, but part of Valve’s failure was the lack initial of oversight. The possibility of me-too skins and obvious rip-offs flooding the marketplace was a huge detractor even if it was only at the beginning.

I will also modify my position on donations. Given the choice between getting something for free and paying for it, no matter the quality, most people will go with free and I admit that I’m one of them. I can see how the argument about simply having a donate button doesn’t really address the issue. As example, from Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson: “The teams behind mega-mods like SkyUI—who came out of pseudo-retirement at the promise of a payday—are on the fence about what happens next. Creator Mardoxx_ noted that previous versions of SkyUI generated less than $500 in donations over four years, and that they simply don’t have the time to do this stuff for free like they did when they were younger.” Yeah, $500 for four years of work is not

There are some modders/pro-modder users they have posited that the angry mob killed the only viable way of modders to get paid. Complete BS. Yes, paid mods through the Stream Workshop would have made it more manageable and easier to control, but it’s not the only way to get paid. I may be oversimplifying this, but put the mod behind a paywall if you want to get paid. Modders threatening to pull, pulling or not even releasing mods feels like an overreaction. If you made mods for yourself, great. If you made mods for you and your friends, also great. If you made mods to gain exposure, great. If you made mods to get paid, also great. But to bring your work to the table and then huffily take them away…

Did Valve have a good idea? Absolutely! Did they have good intentions? I don’t know. Was the idea implemented well? Absolutely not. I can definitely see how Valve backing burgeoning modders would be beneficial to all parties. But the customers fought back.

Part of the fight may have centered around the notion that mods that use to be free now cost something, but focusing solely on that aspect ignores the rest of the argument. Many players, myself included, were incredulous about the funding split. Why would Valve and Bethesda get more money than the person that created the mod? All Valve would do, from what was implied, is host the content and handle the payments. Bethesda’s made the core game and the tools. But the modder would be doing most of the work. So why would customers want to pay either Valve or Bethesda more? Why not a 50-30-20 split or 60-20-20. I think most of us would want to pay the modder more than Valve or Bethesda but we may have even been inclined to the initial split if it was newer Bethesda game..

The anger I felt wasn’t against modders, but against Valve and Bethesda. Any current hatred toward modders is unwarranted. Most are doing it for the love of the game. Why is it wrong for them to want to get paid for good work?



Valve, the Modders and all that Sweet, Sweet Cash

24 Apr

I love Skyrim, but I am also no where close to finishing it either. I came late to Tamriel due to a ever looming backlog and my cheap-assiness. For the completionist in me, it’s overwhelming. I doubt I will ever find all the dungeons, quests, NPCs or level all my skills. I don’t even have any DLC. So when I got notification from that all the DLC was on sale, I readied my wallet.

Steam recently had a sale on Skyrim, so I was surprised at it’s quick return. They wouldn’t have done so without reason. Yep, with the blessings of Steam, modders now have the ability to charge for the their work and Skyrim is the first to market.

Part of me is with the community, decrying this as BS, that real modders create out of love for the game, but I also understand that people have to eat. Yeah, Valve and Bethesda get a cut but in theory the mod creator as well. Work is still work. But the community backlash exists because of how Valve implemented it. Valve, from what I’ve been reading, isn’t going to curate what mods go up for sale; it’s an open market. Someone could sell mods with stolen assets or simply make duplicates of preexisting mods under new names. Yeah, Valve will give refunds to people who are unsatisfied with their mod within 24 hours, but that’s taking a reactive, not proactive, approach. They’ll react to DMCA take down requests, but no proactively remove content.

To be fair, I don’t think anyone would have the ability to take the time and curate all the good and mostly awful mods that have been, and will continue to be, created. But opening the flood gates is irresponsible. I believe that there will be a point where Valve will be inundated with mod refund requests that they’ll have to shut it down.


I favor the idea about being able to donate to the mod creators directly and others on the Internet are of the same opinion. So why this route? Money. Not for the modder, but for Valve and the publishers.

It’s such an overt money grab, gamers are revolting. It’s the same concept with baggage fees on the airplane. Luggage use to fly for free, why the change? The only reason airline passengers put up with it is because there isn’t a better alternative to flying. But with modding? There’s no good reason to charge for something that use to be free.

So here’s the core issue. Just flat out, Valve has gotten lazy. They’re no longer a developer of original ideas. Their recent work is either repetitious iterations of old intellectual properties (Portal 2, Half-Life Episodes 1, 2) or bought and exploited modifications (Counter Strike, DOTA, Team Fortress).

TF2 Many Hats

Original work done by Ashley Lange

I’m not discrediting the work that goes building and maintaining these games, but rather what seems to be the corporate ethos of Valve. Yes, I’m still looking forward to Half Life 3, but what’s after that? Team Fortress 52, Counter Strike Universal Force, Half Life 3 episodic games?

Valve has built a hell of a distribution platform in Steam to the point where it’s almost unbeatable. But with half baked “features” like trading cards, Greenlight, Early-Access and now, pay-to-mod, gamers are starting to sour toward the behemoth. But, as with air travel, what other realistic options do we have?