*The Gabemeister has caved to the backlash and has postponed the paid mod program indefinitely. Man, the world of indie gaming is so freaking exciting!
Valve has never been terribly concerned with regulating most avenues of exchange on their gaming platform Steam. From their somewhat arbitrary Greenlight game screening process, to their near-useless binary user rating system for games, to the early access crap shoot (see that’s a double entendre, because so many early access games are crap), it’s obvious Steam is meant to be the wild west of video game stores.
Valve’s continuing dedication to making easy money without having to lift a finger is as healthy as ever, because starting now individuals are going to be able to sell their mods for whatever they please without any regulation or quality control. At first this might seem like a dream come true for the modding community. It means a visible, structured way to monetize creations. But here’s the flipside: a portion of the traditionally free-sharing modding community behind a paywall, possibly shifting the mindset of the community in a drastic way; a market awash in garbage mods that might even break games while the mod maker hopes people are too lazy to ask for a refund; people stealing free mods and selling them for profit on Steam for as long as they can get away with it—and all that for the measly 25% cut Valve has offered for these contributions.
The system has not arrived without criticism from the gaming community. In response to an article on the same topic found on IGN.com, commenter Trickster states:
“I just had a terrible dream; a dev releases a bareboned/broken game -> Modders appear from around the corner and release mods that saves the game -> Modders only get 25% of their work while the rest goes to Valve and the devs -> All the other free mod sites die out and Valve gets a mod monopoly. Nooooo my head explodes… :(“.
And in response another commenter called Merwanor comes up with the interesting scenario…
“What will stop EA to start developing mods for lets say Skyrim…. Now EA is making content for another companies (sic) game… Things can become really weird.”
But despite the doomsaying, I have a feeling the modding community is strong enough to withstand the Steam machine bringing capitalism to its doorstep. We’re just going to have to watch where we step, cuz that marketplace is guaranteed to be a minefield of broken mod garbage.