Paying for mods on Steam, good thing or bad thing?

Steam just introduced a new feature: Mod creators can now ask money for their mods on steam!

Currently this is limited to Skyrim mods, but Valve has plans to expand that to other games.
Now whether this is a good or bad this is not really sure at the moment, there are plenty of arguments to support both.

The current situation is like this:
Valve allows mod creators (At the moment only for Skyrim) the choice of making their mods pay-to-play. Creators have free choice in what price they think is appropriate for their mod and can change the price every so often if desired. The money you make of the mod is split 25-75 and Valve takes the 75%. In return Valve offers a platform to distribute your mods and the potential for a wide spread awareness and usage of your mods. Users that have purchased a mod can ask for a refund but only within 24 hours of purchasing said mod.

What’s the positive side in this?

  • Mod creators are paid for what they do and this may result in better, higher quality content as they are able to devote more time and resources to developing that mod.

What about the negative side?

  • Modders could be tempted to create many bad-quality mods and put them on Steam, as that makes more money than one well-developed mod. (Kinda like Google Play and mobile games)
  • People will copy mods of other people in an attempt to make money off it (This already happened, mods from Nexus have been copied and put on Steam for money.)
  • DMCA claims might be put on mods that don’t have the permission to use copyrighted content.
  • Mods that break permanently because of game updates can not be refunded.
  • Paying for mods potentially splits communities as people are forced to pay to play the mods they love.

Good video on the topic:


Two words: Cash whales.

Have a page with highlight mods and a small donation button on steam ?

Ok, just as an exemple we got +/- 40 mods (Mod parts) running for operations.
Even with a ‘‘Fair/reasonable’’ price of less than a box per mod.
Nah not going to work out.

This might very much result in developers having to beef up the prices to get something. Also, users might feel cheated if there are (constant / significant) changes in prices. And we’re not talking about the "sales" periods like every market offers. I’m no economy expert, but I don’t think this should be allowed without any regulations.

Nerd3 putting out some good points as always :wink:


I can only see negative things coming out of this, believe it or not.
I’ll watch the NerdCubed video and see if my views change. :stuck_out_tongue:

I can think of one prime example of why mods and money should never go hand in hand. Usually mods are made by very dedicated people who do not want anything from their mods except feedback from the gaming communities and some recognition for their hard work, this has made sure that mods have most often been made with a fantastic amount of detail for whatever these mods have been made for, and the other "bad" mods have most often been made for fun by someone trying to make a game a little bit more derpy than before (Yea I’m looking at you giant unicorn pegasus horse for Skyrim). When money is involved, the whole thing gets more serious than before, where before you had a group of guys helping each other out, called the modding community, all using time to create the mod, you will now have something of a modding industry rising, where some modders might want to be payed for the time they invest in a mod, because they can now, and I can foresee a "Workplace hierarchy" taking place. It’s not only the "We’re all helping out for free" idea that gets corrupt, but the prime motive for mod making will change, meaning more bad mods for a quick buck.

Example of money fucking up a modding team:
Brytenwalda was to many the best mod available for Mount & Blade: Warband. It was rich in detail and events, had more factions than the vanilla game could ever dream of (sure, vanilla lore comes into play as well), it had thousands of different weapons and equipment and the stuff you could do in that mod was more than I could ever finish, and I’ve played M&B a lot!

Some years later, the makers of M&B announce that a new DLC, Viking Conquest, would be released, made by the creators of Brytenwalda! The entire community was ecstatic. It was a DLC, sure not a mod, but it was to be an official release, so "mod" seems a little weird to be calling it, and the makers of a fantastic mod were involved. The release finally came after months of waiting and BAM! it was terrible. The DLC was riddled with bugs, game crashing ones and with entire textures missing. All the children running around the villages had shrunken full-grown man faces! You could clearly see that the product was thrown out of the nest before it had grown wings. The community was in shock that the creators of Brytenwalda couldn’t get this highly anticipated and funded DLC to work. It went as far as to the creators having to give an apology for their release, seeing how all the people who bought it got angry. The reason was simple: They were working for a publisher with money on his mind. The incentive of the DLC was not public feedback and recognition, it was profit (most likely extra funds for the development of M&B 2 (but that’s just my theory)), and with that incentive the quality crashed into the dust. They were under pressure because for every second they worked, someone was losing money. Every idea they wanted to implement cost extra money and the longer they worked on it, the more expensive these "small details" became.
IF they were working on this viking mod/overhaul themselves, yeah sure, it would’ve taken longer for them to complete it, but the progress would have been saved in a hard drive and whenever they felt up for it, they’d work on it a bit more and stop when they had enough, all the way till it was in a stable and enjoyable state, but the workplace environment forced them to ruin their good name all in the name of money!

Look at any other type of media, from music to books. Where there’s big money a lot of advertisement is used to convince the consumer that this product is better than it really is. Where there’s no money only the true motives are left and almost ALWAYS end up with a good quality product.

And that’s all I have to say about that!

This seems like the next logical buisness strategy/step for steam. I’m pretty much indifferent to it. It’s basically giving you the opportunity to support both mod developers, AND gaben’s wallet and massive girth in new and fantastic ways.

Yeah but seriously fuck steam don’t they have enough money go and make half life 3 instead of selling other people’s games, community games and NOW MODS? You bloated lazy billionaire do-nothings. Ooh Atilla is on sale…

There is not a single good thing coming out of this. One can already find "early access" mods on Steam, which I hope no-one is going to buy. This is something one could expect from EA or DICE (Battlefield reference).

Mod makers should be able to earn money if they so desire. The amount of hours that goes into creating a proper mod is no less than doing a real job, and sometimes more!

Valve only start with 1 game to tread the waters and figure everything out. Reminds me of Blizzard’s Real-Money Auction House in Diablo 3, that they created in order to later introduce into WOW but couldn’t figure how to make it not suck - so they ended up scraping the idea entirely.

The idea is worthy but the execution will have to improve.

The idea is worthy but could’ve used some bloody introduction, and definitely could have used some oversight. COUGH COUGH FUCKING STEALING IS RAMPANT COUGH COUGH.

Yup, it’s true. (jk)

I agree with you Bull, mod devs should be able to earn money if they desired so. But conditions in which they will be able to do so (steam mod sale) are not going to result in anything desirable by either devs or end users. If what Ionaru wrote is true:

Creators have free choice in what price they think is appropriate for their mod and can change the price every so often if desired. They money you make of the mod is split 25-75 and Valve takes the 75%.

So how much will it cost us to stay in this community when ArmA jumps on the train?

Hang on there. That is not accurate, Ryujin. Modder takes 25%, Bethesda takes 45%, Valve takes 30%. Check the subreddit on this topic (I lost the link), it was confirmed in there.

I never claimed quoted statement as absolute truth. I said if it was true. With your correction, still, modders take only 25%, and what I’ve said before stands now. Since they will get a minute cut of a cake, it might very well happen that they will beef up their prices, unjustifiably or not.

On other hand, why are people paying 45% to bethesda for custom content? I’ve already bought the game, now I’m enjoying the fruits of labour of third party developers, game devs have nothing to do with this mod. Valve offers the platform for the "market" to happen.

Yeah see valve takes 30% where you get 25% and the game devs get 45% is what i’ve heard. Though this might encourage game developers to release mod tools, it’s still for profit at the end of the day, not for passion. Honestly mod developers should get donation buttons you know… like… "Buy me a coffee!" And Gaben can keep his greasy sticky paws off of the money. I like to call it Gabe Tax. If he was personally funding a mission to mars or something I wouldn’t mind but as it stands valve seems to do fuck all good with it’s money. I don’t see any valve orphanages popping up. Guess he just orders cake.

Why should steam be the pioneer of this sort of mod/developer relationship anyway? Their workshop sucks balls and barely functions most of the time for one. Installs content terribly and most of the time needs links to exterior downloads unless games have been built to accomodate the workshop.

It’s nice that someone’s effort can be rewarded and they can get paid for it, but even so, surely the dev should get a percentage for the game, and the modder for the rest. It’s essentially like royalties. Paying royalties to game/engine/modtool creators is fine, it’s like having the licence to autodesk software or something. Paying royalties to the gabe is just not right in my eyes. You’re not the god-king of all gaming just because you own the most successful distribution platform.

And of course, spanish laughing man and hitler are quick to join the party.


As I said, good idea, poor execution. But knowing Valve, they will not back down like Blizzard - I expect them to figure it out and fix it before they introduce this for other games. I remember using Steam for the first time and hating every second of it back around 2004. Gaben grows (and grows) on you.

Not doing anything with the money? Have you been on the news lately? Valve has half a dozen enormous projects open, including Valve OS. They’re doing plenty with their money to justify wanting more. Oh, and, you know, paying their employees and organizing Dota 2 tournaments is a thing.

Additionally, I have never had any issue with the workshop. If developers want to utilize Valve’s tools it only makes sense that they accommodate for that in their design. It would be the developers that fuck up in that regard.

Anyway, Valve, not Gaben, does have a right to an amount of the money, or are you going to claim PayPal doesn’t have the right to take a cut of transactions?
They are performing the transfer for you. Giving you easy access tools that work reliably and swiftly, essentially enabling Mods to go into the sellers market which they couldn’t before. I don’t think they should take 30%. But it seems to me everyone is kicking up a stink not because Valve asks to much, but because they ask at all. I find it preposterous that people expect Valve to provide a service without charging for it; who do you think they are, GOOGLE?

If Valve asked for a 15-20% cut I’d have no problems with the prices. Now if only Valve acted according to its station and acted against the rampant thievery…

It’s the percentages that annoys me Kaleo, as you said if the cut was miniscule i’d have no qualms. Afterall they’ve got the distribution platform in the first place and that’s how they’ve made their money for years now, selling other people’s games. But they’re taking more than the developer of the mod for doing f-all and that’s just not on.

Also I meant cool things like google does. Space programs, Technological marvels, charity etc. And as you quite rightly put, rampant thievery is a big issue.

I use Gaben as a name for valve when I’m ranting. His girth encompasses all of valve, Valve has become one with the Gaben. Be sheltered in his warm embrace. None can escape his girth, let it happen. Gabe is love, Gabe is life.

I really hate that Gaben meme, but oh well, can’t force others.

You don’t define minuscule, Price. What do YOU think is an appropriate cut for Valve?

And on what Valve should do with their money… Look, I’m sorry if this is a surprise to you, but they’re a company. Google is the exception to all of the world’s rules and I don’t know how they pull their shit off. It’s good that they do, because they are one of the few forces standing between us and a fully capitalized society (which would be terrible). Valve will spend their profits on making more profit. It’s the way of the beast. To expect anything else is to disillusion yourself to reality of how companies function.

Perhaps in another world Google and Valve could have competed over who could be the coolest company. 'Tis not this world, however.