Analysis, Gaming

The Problem With Paying For Steam Workshop Mods

Skyrim Steampunk Dwemer

Weapons and Armor remain one of the most popular mod types, with thousands upon thousands of amazingly defined pieces to choose from.

Creators have full discretion on prices

Content creators, that is the mod’s creator, has full control over the pricing of their mod. So that means they could adjust the price to be fair, free, pay what you want, or just downright cruel. And since Valve takes a staggering 75% cut off of all the sales, we might see some serious inflation soon.

Q. How much do paid mods cost?
A. The prices for mods are set by their authors, and depend on their size, complexity, and the type of content. Unique quests that may contain dozens of hours of playtime will probably cost more than a new hat for your character.

It’s a bit strange how Valve would give such freedom over this, but they’ve issued some loose guidelines for creator’s to keep in mind:

Q. How much should I charge for my item?

A. The appropriate price for your mod, map, or item will depend on a number of factors. Here are some things to think about:
1. How many similar items are already available for sale or for free?
2. How much unique content have you created? Is this something which is hard for others to do?
3. How many hours of playtime does your experience offer?

Relevant Links:

Valve goes on to disclose the exact nature of the transactions themselves, explaining the terms that modders must accept before earning cash.

“When an item is sold via the Steam Workshop, revenue is shared between Valve (for transaction costs, fraud, bandwidth & hosting costs, building & supporting the Steam platform), the game developer (for creation of the game and the game’s universe, the marketing to build an audience, the included assets, and any included modding or editing tools), and the item creator (including any specified contributors).

“The percentage of revenue an item creator receives from direct sales of their item in this Workshop is 25%, as stipulated in the Supplemental Workshop Terms. Your individual share may be smaller if you have added other contributors that share in the royalty payments.”

With the power of mods, the limits are endless and you can do so many things you've never dreamed of.

With the power of mods, the limits are endless and you can do so many things you’ve never dreamed of.

The beauty of mods

Mods are incredible and certainly are one of the major benefits of playing PC games. Being able to explore, download and experience a veritable galaxy of content that expands a game far past its pre-determined world is purely amazing.

And the real beauty of it is that anyone can make a mod. Anyone can craft their own world, and developers are often keen on seeing just what the community can cook up. With the power of mods and construction sets, you can do practically anything: you can recreate Morrowind using Skyrim‘s engine, you can relive any kind of absurdities you want by bringing Battletoads or have Spider-man use a keyblade…the possibilities are endless.

This magic is being jeopardized once again, as every magical aspect of video games have been jeopardized or monetized in the past. Now mods will become locked down behind paywalls.

Mods are about celebrating innovation and sharing things you’ve created with others. They’re not about making money.

Skyrim Oblivion dragon

Valve might have opened the very gates of Oblivion with Workshop mod sales, all in the name of good intentions.

The road to hell was paved with good intentions

We’d all like to believe Valve is just looking out for content creators here.

We’d like to believe that the Almighty Gaben certainly couldn’t be attached to something that could very well fracture an entire facet of PC gaming. But we have to remember that Valve is a company, and companies focus on profits first and foremost.

With this move Valve has bit the hand that’s fed it for years and years now. Steam has been built by the sweat and unending streams of digital cash straight from gamer’s pocketbooks, and its constituency has a real problem with this new move.

If this trend continues, it could very well annihilate one of PC gaming’s most beloved advantages, and effectively merge the platform with the dreaded schemes of the console and mobile realm.

Oh and here’s another fun fact: Bethesda greenlit the service being able to charge for Skyrim mods. As a publisher they will rake in some cash, too, but it’ll likely be meager. It seems like everyone wants a piece of that pie.

“It is up to the developers or publisher of each game to decide if paid Workshop mods are appropriate for their game. You will only be able to sell mods for a game in the Steam Workshop if the developers have enabled that functionality.”

This pretty much means with time we’ll see all our favorite game mods for sale, and it might very well mean the end of the community altogether.

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