Valve Kills Paid Mod Marketplace, Steam Rejoices
Gabe Newell opened the flood gates with four simple words, "paid mods for Skyrim." A previously united Steam community was divided by greed, yet unified by their hatred of this new development, and for days the people revolted, until now.
Newell has seen the error of his ways, is wrenching those monstrous doors shut and is closing down Skyrim's premium mod shop for good. After a fairly disastrous AMA on Reddit, it wasn't just Newell who decided to close things down, but also Skyrim-developer Bethesda and Valve employee Adam Kroll.
Here's what Kroll said about having to close down the premium mod marketplace:
We’re going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we’ll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.
We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing. We’ve been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they’ve been received well. It’s obvious now that this case is different.
To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.
But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.
Now that you’ve backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we’ll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.
Skyrim on Steam and Skyrim on consoles have always been two completely different beasts. On consoles, players were at the mercy of Bethesda's coding, only able to play the content created by the developers themselves. On Steam, players had no limits. Magic arrows! Weather control! Flying brooms! Majora's Mask! You could have it all on Steam, and even though creating mods is hard work, the community didn't mind because it was something they could do together.
Here's an example of how the modding community works:
Modder A built a framework mod that allowed people to create new spells, Modders B through F each made one awesome new spell, and Modder G brought them all together in an awesome mod pack for easy distribution and organization. When one of these people try to start charging for their work, things could get rather complicated.
Suddenly many of the same previously cooperative folks wanted to closely guard their content, hoping to someday earn money off of it. Mods that used the framework of several other mods (such as the now-infamous fishing mod) had people coming out of the woodwork wanting credit (and money) for the piece of their work which went into the final product. It was a mess, and people thought it signaled the end of Valve being the gaming community's favorite developer.
There's a reason Valve has been at the top for so long — they listen. When the folks there realized these paid mods were a mess, they dropped them, offered refunds to everyone, and ate the financial losses. Good on you, Valve. Your heart was in the right place (with mod makers being able to make a living off of their work), but the implementation was just lacking. Maybe next time.