A Steam update released yesterday is implying that paid game modifications may be returning sooner rather than later, despite the system’s past controversies.
Many PC gamers were hoping that the paid mod fiasco on Steam was over, never to return. Yet deep in their hearts, PC gamers knew the truth of the matter: Valve would never give up on such a large potential stream of revenue.
Now it appears those fears were well founded, as the first steps toward the return of paid game modifications have seemingly been made. With a recent update, the digital marketplace has now begun flagging all Steam Workshop modifications as ‘free’.
The Steam warnings are highlighted in green label boxes above every Workshop modification’s “Subscribe” button, the button players use to add the mod to their games. The exact wording on the warning is as follows:
“You can subscribe to this item for free because you are the creator or listed as a contributor.”
Considering the warning’s appearance on every workshop game on Steam and its placement directly above the subscription button, the message from Steam is clear: paid mods are coming back.
While it’s entirely speculative to say whether the update is coming sooner or later, the breadth of the warning’s reach implies the former. Many may not know, but a Steam update over a month ago added an assortment of “strings to the STS.” According to forum members on FacePunch, these strings detail topics including “author controlled monetization” and “profit splitting.” It’s only a matter of time now before Valve updates Steam with the infrastructure necessary for mod creators to begin charging for their creations.
While all evidence points to the return of paid mods, nothing thus far has shown that they have addressed the myriad concerns that drove the controversy last time.
- Steam is still rampant with copyrighted material being used in mods.
- There is no system of prevention to stop modders from stealing content.
- There’s no plan to ensure mods which users pay for continue to be updated, or even fixed if they’re broken.
- There’s no indication Valve won’t take an overly generous portion of each mod’s sale.
- It even seems like every mod is going to be forced into this monetization system without any way to opt out.
Ultimately, Valve is already committing the most egregious of their errors. Valve is not communicating with the community. There’s certainly a point to be made in the community being unwilling to maturely address the possibility of paid mods, but Valve doesn’t even seem to be considering that. Valve has gone ahead and already flagged all workshop items in this system. Paid mods will likely return, and PC gamers will just have to deal with whatever Valve decides behind the scenes.
For now, paid modifications on Steam do not exist, but if yesterday’s update is any indication, they may be back sooner than anyone expected. Unfortunately, little has changed since the controversial mess that forced Valve to kill the initial system.