Valve recently opened up the possibility for paid Skyrim Steam mods, letting programmers make cosmetic, story and other modifications. The program was met with ire on several fronts. Upset gamers became afraid that they might have to pay for things that had previously been free, while others raised concerns that code might be plagiarized or that software updates might break the mod they paid for. Valve’s distribution of the funds also came under suspicion— Valve and the game’s developers would split 75% of the profits while the modder would receive the remaining 25%.
The release was full of flaws, and Valve canceled the idea after just three days in operation. The program clearly wasn’t ready, but does that mean that paying for Skyrim Steam mods is a bad idea?
Modders Should Be Paid – If That’s What They Want
Some people are totally okay with creating content for free. To those people, creating Skyrim Steam mods (or mods for other games) is a labor of love, not something they want to sell. That’s fine, and those people should be allowed to continue releasing their work for free. Had it been successful, Valve’s program would have allowed modders to make a career of modding. Making money at something like this means more content creators are drawn to the system, which might encourage higher-quality mods.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things panned out. With Valve and the game’s developers taking such a high cut of the profits, Valve’s system felt more exploitative of modders’ work than representative. While it makes sense that some money should go to the developers for creating the game and to Valve for hosting the content, the way it was split felt unfair to modders who could make considerably more money off of donations.
A better option and one Valve has said they’re considering for future versions of the paid Skyrim Steam mods system is a “pay what you want” option. This would allow players to choose the amount of money they want to contribute toward the developer, letting those who want to pay do so without having to go to the developer’s site to donate. A further improvement would be for Valve to take a page out of Humble Bundle’s book and start using sliders that would allow those who want to pay for mods to determine how much of their donation goes to Valve, the game’s developer or to the modder.
Page 2: Paying for Mods Outside of Steam