The Jimquisition: So Let’s Talk About Mods Being Sold On Steam

UPDATE: Welp, this video’s outta date now!

There was no way we couldn’t talk about this one today – in fact, I don’t think I’ve had a more requested topic! Valve recently allowed modders to start selling their work through its Workshop, a move that has ignited comment sections, social media, and Steam itself. It’s chaos out there!

So let’s wade into the discussion and try to weigh the pros against the cons, shall we? Forewarning… there are a LOT of potential cons.

ATBro
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ATBro

This is all emblematic of Valve’s spiral around the drain. They do so little these days to actually earn the respect that they have from the community, but none the less seem to have in spades. Every single thing they do is strictly for the Benjamins, without variation, and when there are clear problems with what they have made, they put zero effort into fixing them… because there is no incentive in it for them.

Buzzwords
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Buzzwords
I can respect steam for trying to find an avenue to get modders paid if that’s really the motivation here. Gabe said it himself in an AMA on reddit. “working at waffle house doesn’t help you make better games” but this is so poorly executed that it’s hard for me to take that sentiment at face value. Why NOT just have a donate button attached to every mod that donates to the modder? hell, even if steam continues to take a cut, for hosting or whatever, is that not infinitely better? I realize that this is similar to the “pay… Read more »
Billy
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Billy

If Valve wanted to get modders paid, then Valve would have both taken a smaller cut and put a limit on the publisher cut.

Valve wanted to get Valve paid, and was willing to sell out modders to get publishers to accept the idea. Gabe can talk about how much more money Valve has lost dealing with the backlash than they made from selling mods, but he was misleading with that statement because Valve didn’t *expect* such a costly backlash. Valve thought the community would accept the idea the same way paid user-created content was accepted in Valve’s games.

Zippydsmlee
Guest

If they are going to do that they are going to need a new less limited SDK for Skyrim. Over than that a pay what you want setup would be best….

Zhan Liao
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Zhan Liao
The part that really worries me about this is that, when asked by the owner of the Nexus website whether Gabe Newell could guarantee that Valve would prevent mods only being allowed in the workshop or the paid workshop, is response was basically “We can’t really tell publishers what to do. Best we can do is tell them we think that’s dumb.” Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/33uplp/mods_and_steam/cqomf2t?context=3 I mean, can we trust developers and publishers not to do something like this? To prevent mods out of the workshop from working with their games, or to even begin attempting to take down sites that… Read more »
Tao
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Tao

Woohoo! Konami is dead!!
http://www.siliconera.com/2015/04/27/konami-delisted-new-york-stock-exchange/

*plays happy music*
Think they’ll sell off IP like THQ?

Sanlumiere
Guest

That’s a bit misleading. They are delisted from the NYSE, but still in the other indexes. Additionally, they are likely intentionally contracting their video game business in lieu of more profitable businesses, so I suspect that they will look to license out any particularly valuable IPs and allow the rest to simply die.

As I understand it, arcade machines and gambling style machines are something proving quite profitable for companies like Konami, so to quote something famous – “the rumours of konami’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

Dave Dogge
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Dave Dogge
Steam Modders get 25% or so which aint bad but it aint great. I agree with the complexities of this as sometimes mods are build on other developer’s mods so the royalties issues will be a pain. As for Konami, I don’t know really, they were a hallmark of excellence since the 1980s but what on Earth is going on ? cancelling one of their biggest franchises with Silent Hill / PT etc and then breaking off relations with the founding creator of MGS, if I was a main shareholder in that company I would be taking names and cracking… Read more »
Shjade
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Shjade

Excellent summation, without even touching on the outright fraud of people posting mods they didn’t create for sale as their own.

“A shitshow” indeed.

Sidrat
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Sidrat

I released a mod for skyrim that sorted your inventory in to pre-arranged bookshelves/chests/bags etc etc.

Thought it was great, very few downloads though, but then I saw it was because someone else took my mod and stuck their name on it, without any mention of my coding and basement design prowess at all.

I vowed never to publish on Steam again.

Plips
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Plips
I must say I really liked this idea when I first heard it but a lot of the cons to offering mods for money were things I had not considered. I hadn’t considered the original devs of a game getting a cut of the mod profits and I don’t like the idea of that. We already paid the devs for their work on the main game and while, with some games, I don’t mind the idea of tossing a few more bucks towards the original devs, in the instances you spoke of where a mod adds crucial fixes to the… Read more »
Sanlumiere
Guest
The clear, and fair, solution here is a “pay what you want” model. There is plenty of reasoning for this: 1) People who are likely to want to mod a game, are likely quite invested in that game (I mean outside of getting all the boobs to show up in Skyrim or whatever slightly less serious mods people download for their own… “edification”) – Sims players who get in to downloading mods are pretty serious about that game, and put more than enough hours in to the game that it is not a great stretch to imagine they would throw… Read more »
fire_drake
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fire_drake

I thought that this was a good idea on paper… Then I remembered Greenlight and the poor Quality Control STEAM has and got me worried.

kimiyoribaka
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kimiyoribaka

The more I hear about Valve, the more the I think their biggest problem is not having anyone with problem planning skills. Besides the problems with their games taking too long, they keep starting up new cool features for Steam before they’ve worked out the problems they already know are going to come up. If they understand what’s wrong with Steam (as Gabe Newell has has stated on reddit in no uncertain words), then they should fix the issues before expanding their services to new things with the same issues.

LiteYear
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LiteYear
I do not thing that this is a lack of panning at all. I think this is exactly in line with Valve’s mentality to become so big that you pretty much have no choice to deal with Valve/Steam if you want anything game-related sold digitally. They don’t have to fix Steam because they don’t have any significant threat to their business operation, and the nature of digital purchases gives them a stronger position than they would likely have dealing in physical goods. So, they can make these changes without having to worry about any consequences to anyone but themselves (and… Read more »
Quality Pie
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Quality Pie

The answer to “What if a game update breaks a mod you payed for and the author fails to support it?” strikes me to similar to the question of “What happens to a GAME if, say, an OS update breaks the game and the developers fails to support it”: *crickets*.

This is a reality of PC gaming that players have dealt with and tolerated for years. Extending this pitfall to the MODing community doesn’t strike me as a particularly persuasive objection.

Fazan
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Fazan
Not really. New operating systems don’t come out every few weeks like game patches do. Even if you had the poor fortune to launch your game a week or a month before a major OS release (and why would you, when these things get talked about and beta-tested for years in advance), the old OS doesn’t magically disappear. Even MicroSoft aren’t that aggressive – they only dropped support for XP what? A few months ago? A year ago? After how many years of full support despite the existence of Vista and 7. New operating systems do render games unplayable, but… Read more »
Corrodias
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Corrodias

Oh, ugh, that is disgusting. HoxHud’s developer should be ashamed. Is this one of those that they charge money for? Or are they just incredibly egotistical?

Polar
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Polar

I’m curious, which video got Jim Sterling Blacklisted by Konami?
Thanks for reading.

Cocoa
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Cocoa

If I could guess, it would probably be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g1xMAPG8Ik

If for some reason youtube links aren’t allowed, just search Jimquisition Konami.

ShuiGor
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ShuiGor

Probably the one entitled “Konami” in the pre-TheJimquisition.com era. A quick Google search of “Jimquisition Konami” should suffice.

Polar
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Polar

Wow really? Even Ubisoft isn’t that petty. Thanks.
Thanks for reading.

ChrisTX
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ChrisTX
I’m not even that mad about the 75% share they take. It’s their turf, they can set that share. What angers me about this is that Valve is praising this as a system to support modders (with 25%) and uses a pay-what-you-want system therefore. Pay-what-you-want? I’m sorry, but when I buy something on Humble Bundle with the same model I see whom I’m paying. Do you want to support that modder with 40 bucks because you like the mod so much or do you want to support Bethesda and Valve to earn 30 bucks and the modder 10 because you… Read more »
The Spearman
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The Spearman

Well, to be fair, the modder wouldn’t have Skyrim to mod if not for Bethesda. 3/4ths is kind of greedy, but 25% of proceeds on a mod going to one person still makes it a larger share than anyone at Bethesda would receive, it is a rather large company with some overhead.

I do agree that it’s a tad greedy, good mod content sells games and Bethsoft would earn even if 75% benefited the modders, but it’s not quite in dishonest territory.

Alex
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Alex

If they’re going to grab 75% of the take, I think they should do some quality control and take some responsibility for it, at the very least.

DrOswald
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DrOswald
You can think that, but from the view of a modder turned professional software developer (me) the deal offered is fantastic. A 25% cut on its own is good for a derivative product, but throw in no licencing fee, no clause of “the first X dollars goes to Bethesda”, no need to get the content approved by the creator, no “failure to deliver” penalties, and none of the other things that typically get put into derivative product contracts, this is an amazing deal. From a moral standpoint there might be an argument to have about cuts. But from the standpoint… Read more »
The Spearman
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The Spearman
Regarding the Steam marketplace being too large for effective policing, there are only about 80 project on Greenlight at any given time and they languish there for months. Valve is a 2 billion dollar company, hiring a 20 person team to make sure that the shit that gets pushed out meets some quality standards at $20 an hour isn’t really going to dent their market share. The economy still isn’t great, I support forcing those cheap f**** to create a few extra jobs AND allow the people who can’t exercise discretion when buying games to spend their hard-earned money on… Read more »
SilentPony
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SilentPony
The question I would ask is if its fair to say if Steam and Bethesda are allowing modders to sell mods, is it implied those companies support the content of the mod? Porn mod comes out, and modders sell to 16 year old boys. Is it fair to say Bethesda and Steam support selling porn to underage children? After all, they sell the game and support the market. Or a horse fucking mod comes out, and they do nothing to censor or stop it. Is that support of bestiality? Steam IS selling it after all. Or a mod comes out… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

The only question Valve is concerned with is “Is it legal?” Steam is a storefront, and Valve is not concerned with what goes up as long as it can’t get them in trouble. Hell, they decided to sell “Hatred”, so that should really answer your question.

Openness like that has its pros and cons, obviously; but that’s just how it is. The only people who are actually going to ask the question you posed are the people who have already decided on an answer.

Chun'Gus
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Chun'Gus
I dunno about that. I think with social media and 24 hr news cycle, there will be plenty of fodder. All you need is some jackass making a mod switching out all Bandit models with a naked Anita Sarkeesian. Violence against women, more GamerGate coverage, 1 hour specials on Fox News on the cistern of violence that is the Steam Modding community. It’d be a complete firestorm. Or as SP pointed out, selling other IPs. I mean I have a Warhammer 40k mod and Star War mod for Fallout New Vegas. And neither Games Workshop or whoever owns Star Wars… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

And the firestorm would die down almost as quickly as it arose, just as it always does. But as for your second thought, that’s a legal matter, and would definitely have a place on Valve’s radar.

It’s just a shame they won’t give the same considerations to the modders themselves.

Billy
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Billy
If you sold a mod like that on Steam Workshop, then it would get noticed, Valve would eventually notice that it was noticed, and Valve would remove it. Valve might mention that it was against the rules and that the system works. And maybe rewriting some text to emphasize that Valve has no legal responsibility for anything sold through Steam. The worst case for gamers is that the IP holder starts to take a more pro-active look at mods in general, sending Cease & Desists and other legal threats to other mod sites. Valve most likely gets off scott free.… Read more »
Chun'Gus
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Chun'Gus

Sure, once. Maybe twice or three times. But when modders and by extension Steam and Valve get hit with claims 100+ times a week, which throughout all of Steam and all the modders is not unreasonable, they’ll change their tune right fucking quick.

Though its a moot point I guess now, eh?

Shuninta
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Shuninta
Okay, first of all, let the dead homicidal horse rot. Second of all, I used to be a modder. Spend a lot of my life making free stuff for a game I loved. I had to stop because paying the bills got more important – if I had an easy way to monetize my work back then like it’s proposed now… I still probably wouldn’t have taken it, because it kind of sucks and I don’t want to be payed for my coding scraps. That said, if I were still making mods, I would stop right about now. The entitled,… Read more »
Matt K
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Matt K
Oh I agree. I see no reason to get upset that someone is selling absolute garbage mods because honestly you don’t have to buy it. Steam actually seems to be doing customers a favor and getting them to actually do some research before buying stuff and that’s a valuable lesson. That said, there are tons of issue with this like uploading someone else’s work as a paid mod and possible slippery slope issues with only being able to use Workshop in future games and possibly driving away modders with people profiting off their work (that’s not the modder themselves). But… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

I feel that you may be generally aiming some of your anger at the commenters here and possibly Jim? I’m honestly not sure.

Though I, too, hate the attitude of self-entitlement you see so often in the gaming community. But it does tend to act as the knee-jerk reaction to the grade-A bullshit pulled by the AAA industry, so there’s that. The proper, practical answer is somewhere in the middle, like it usually is.

Shuninta
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Shuninta

No, I had some leftover anger from more heated “discussions” on the subject and might have assumed the worst in how this one would turn out. My apologies.

Yaro
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Yaro

Im starting to believe that Valve is one huge entity that is supposed to teach us something. They dont police their stores or workshops. They let us, the consumers decide what is worth money and what isnt. Honestly, I like that about Valve. They let anyone put up stuff, they allow them to do so, but its the consumers that decide if they are worth anything. It will sort itself out sooner or later.

BAH!
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BAH!
I can appreciate that sentiment, but things have most definitely not sorted themselves out with other Steam services. And, as Fazan pointed out above, there is an entirely separate issue of copyright and ownership that is almost guaranteed to drive away good modders from the community altogether. It is cool that Steam is such an open service; there was, at one point, great potential for it so be something welcoming and inclusive- a place for both established and start-up developers to sell their wares and contribute to the community. It’s just a shame that, as is so often the case,… Read more »
Fazan
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Fazan
Modmakers deserve to turn a profit, at least for some of the mods they make, that’s very much true. I don’t think paywalling their mods is the way to do this, however. Cosmetic mods like piss water aside, what do we do about game-altering mods? “Hey, BUY this, it’s a +100 sword of awesomeness that I maxed out all the stats on.” What about mods for multiplayer games? I’m a fan of Payday 2, a co-op heist-themed shooter where “cheating” is a hot-button issue. Outright hacks to put yourself at max level aside, there’s a lot of grey are with… Read more »
Cindipool
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Cindipool
I’ve been arguing back and forth about this with some associates on Skype for the last few days, and while I do see the potential for it all to go horribly wrong, I do think it’s a bit soon to declare the whole thing a terrible, terrible idea that should be killed at birth. Yes, Valve and the publisher are taking a rather large cut. Yes, what many people regard as a necessity to play the game properly (something I’ve never thought, incidentally) may now cost us additional cash over the game itself. And yes, the whole thing might get… Read more »
Exley97
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Exley97

The “mods as additional DLC” commentary was SPOT ON. The day when PC games patches and fixes get turned into “mods” for sale is coming, guys. Just wait….

DrOswald
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DrOswald
But at the same time, you can’t say that the prospect of what is essentially 3rd party DLC is not exciting. 3rd party DLC has the same potential as 3rd party titles on a console – the potential to enhance the value of the platform significantly. The best mods are exactly this – mods like X-com: Long War and Stalker: Misery are in content and scale similar to a large DLC pack, with the exception that they do not have to be vetted by the original developer and so may take the game in new and interesting directions the developer… Read more »
Ushio
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Ushio

There have already been cases of modder’s removing there free content because other people have been re-uploading it as paid and this new thing is only a few days old.

Honestly ever since early access and greenlight Valve has turned to shit allowing far too many scam artists to try to rip off people.

It’s getting worse than the android store!

ion
Guest
ion

How will a modder decide if their mods are worth paying money for? I mean, whats to stop me making a mod for Skyrim and charging money for it and then someone else making the same mod and giving it away for free?

I think there needs to be some price policing because people don’t know what things are worth. You could get some great mods, that people would have payed money for but are being given away for free, and then get a load of chancers charging money for shit that you couldn’t give away.

BAH!
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BAH!
The saddest thing about this is that many of the modders truly deserve some compensation for their time and effort. Have you seen some of the HD mods for Minecraft? That stuff takes time, skill, and dedication- and it’s the more basic facet of modding. I applaud people who do things like the “realistic water” mods for Skyrim, or the general gameplay overhauls that make a good game great- and the fact that they willingly, happily (as opposed to begrudgingly) distribute them for free should tell you something. But I can’t help agreeing with Jim on this one; there’s just… Read more »
desudroya
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desudroya
Oh man the amount of mods that deserve some kind of compensation in Minecraft goes far, far beyond the HD mods. Things like Thaumcraft (which adds a very very deep magic system to the game), or the HQM (Hardcore Questing Mod) which adds a fully configurable questing system to Minecraft complete with rewards and locked/unlocked quests and lives, to any number of tech mods like Buildcraft, Chemcraft, Big Reactors, Galacticraft, and on and on and on. Minecraft modding is honestly what makes that game even enjoyable for me. The Vanilla experience gets dull for many people very quickly. Minecraft wouldn’t… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

Further down, Buzzwords suggested a “Donation” button instead pay-what-you-want, and I think that would work even better.

Drynwyn
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Drynwyn

I have used every Minecraft mod you mentioned, and I’m not sure how to feel about that.

Gareth
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Gareth
This is where the difference arises though. A donation is a thank you for providing the community for creating such content that people have really enjoyed. Paying for the content up front however is quite different as you don’t have any notion of the quality until after you’ve paid for it. As a result of this I started thinking that there are some modders I would be quite happy to make a donation to for what they have created and made one several days ago to Kris one of the main people behind the Interesting NPC’s mod. Which is one… Read more »
Ootmians
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Ootmians

Yep, this this this this. Anyone who doesn’t believe this will just result in less content for more money hasn’t paid attention to the game industry over the last few years. As with Early Access, DLC, Season Passes, Freemium, Preorders and all the other seemingly good ideas that have just resulted in unfinished games with their hands out all the time.

I do support paying what you want to support great work by actual gamers doing work the developer should have. As long as it doesn’t just create a funnel of more income to the developer to reward that behavior.