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?


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