One of the reasons why PC gaming is so popular is because of modding. Modding (short for ‘modifying’) a game can take the developer’s original work and build on it, adding features or even fixing things that the developer has missed. Some notable mod examples include the Skyrim WereChair, the Dark Souls graphics fix and the mod that turns Grand Theft Auto IV into Watch Dogs.
Many modders are happy to mod games for free as it improves titles that they love and enjoy. But Valve, the company behind PC gaming platform Steam, was criticized recently for allowing people to charge for modded content. This was good news for some mod creators as it allowed them to turn their hobby into a bonafide career – or at least get something in return for it – but others were angry at Valve for the option.
After being online for just a few days, Valve’s paid mod system already seen some abuse. A paid Skyrim mod (Skyrim is the first game to permit paid mods) called ‘Art of the Catch’ was pulled from Steam after it came to light that it contained content from another mod called ‘Fores New Idles in Skyrim’. The revelation only came after several Skyrim fans pointed it out and so some are concerned that less popular mods may be able to make money from plagiarized work and get away with it.
But user complaints aren’t falling on deaf ears and after flying back from Los Angeles, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell took to Reddit to address fan concerns. Some of the first things that Newell addressed were stolen content and quality tests and while he doesn’t think that these issues are specific to mods, he did say that “they are all worth solving”.
Newell also addressed a suggestion from a fan who said that Valve should introduce a donate button. He says that they are “adding a button that modders can use that allows them to set a minimum pay what you want option” and while there’s no word on when that feature will show up, this is a decision that will likely make many people happy. Furthermore, as some modders were already using services like Patreon to get donations for their work, this should make things easier for them too.
Additionally, the co-founder admitted that the criticisms of Steam support and Steam Greenlight are “legitimate”. Steam Greenlight allows players to vote on games they want to see on Steam but it has come under fire for the amount of games it lets through and because Steam Greenlight games don’t ever need to be finished. Last year, Earth: Year 2066 was pulled from Greenlight and players were given refunds after the developers were dishonest about the game’s state. Steam support meanwhile, is often criticized for the amount of time it takes them to reply to user complaints and for the fact that refunds seem to be a rarity.
Newell says that these problems “boil down to building scalable solutions that are robust in the face of exponential growth” which involves “writing a bunch of code” so hopefully Steam users see some changes soon.
Do you think that a donation button will stop the service from being abused? What else can Valve do to improve Steam? Leave a comment and let us know.