Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 at 02:15 PM PDT by Brian Hoss
Update: That escalated quickly.
Update: After outlining their reasons for going to a paid mod system, Bethesda has had a change of heart. Valve and Bethesda have both announced that the paywall for 'Skyrim' mods is no more, and that refunds will be coming to anyone who paid into the system while it was up. The reason for the reversal is in short, the very vocal backlash. Further details can be found here.
Original Story Follows:
The game industry is full of news that sets off debate and incites passions from fans (and non-fans) for just about everything under the sun. And yet, in so many cases, the hottest debates come unraveled under the light of personal preference and are all too familiar. From broken AAA games to framerate to brand loyalty, there are plenty of subjects that can be hotly contested, but in fact involve very little potential for immediate change.
Not so with mods on the Steam workshop.
Valve has recently introduced the results of a new partnership. Where formerly the Steam Workshop was used to freely distribute community made and uploaded mods of games like Bethesda's 'Skyrim,' there now is a system under which mods cost money, and in turn yield money for their creators.
The cut of money between Valve, Bethesda, and the mod creators has been just one of the subjects that has raised a large questioning cry from the community. Considering that even when using developer-provided tools, modding games has been a community-driven activity, the surprise change, its side effects, and the vocal response from so many has meant some serious growing pains for the new scheme. (There are still free mods to be had for 'Skyrim,' and the legal hurdles with paid mods are something that Valve and Bethesda have attempted to address.)
Today, Bethesda delivered a lengthy address full of tidbits like the money cut (30% Valve, 45% Bethesda, & 25% mod creator), the percentage of mod users ("only 8% of Skyrim audience has ever used a mod"), and the idea that re-rating 'Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion' from Teen to Mature on account of mods has cost Bethesda "millions of dollars." The purpose of this info is to now, after the fact, explain the move to paid mods, the areas where it might be tweaked, and that this is not "some money grabbing scheme" on the part of Bethesda/Zenimax.
Ultimately, 'Skyrim' is an older game, one whose popularity has been kept alive in part by modders who have been assisted by both Valve and Bethesda. Having so much money changing hands has done wonders for games like 'Team Fortress 2,' and yet if the move to monetize 'Skyrim' mods is really about growing the number of mod users and developers, there's no telling how drastic a change it will be for the game and for others like it. Free or not, modding has its costs (like hosting), and there are benefits to having paid mods. At what cost those benefits come is yet to be determined.
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