The Big Question: Do You Want Paid-For Mods?

Here's a big question. A proper big question. Do you want paid-for mods?

We have a poll down there you can vote on, but feel free to discuss the intricacies below. My feeling: people should get paid for their work. I like that idea. Did Valve make a mess of trying to make that happen? Probably. I expect they will be back with a different model using a different game in the near future.

What are your thoughts?


    The oft-suggested 'donate' button would be my preference. Split to be negotiated, but CERTAINLY more than 25% to the mod creator.

      I agree. The 25% split seemed very much like Bethesda just wanted to get paid for mods while appearing like they cared about modders.

      maybe if the mod maker got the 75% and the others had the 25% split between them

      agreed a donate button would be amazing, I mean there are definitely mods out there that deserve money for what they have done, I mean some mods add more that the Skyrim expansions ever did.

      As much as I am against payed mods, I do wish people would get there facts write.

      It was NOT a 27/25 split. It was a 30/45/25 split. With Valve getting 30%. As they do with EVERYTHING that is sold on steam.

        Funny how Bethesda's own blog article about it stated the modder gets 25%.

        "First Valve gets 30%. This is standard across all digital distributions services and we think Valve deserves this. No debate for us there.

        The remaining is split 25% to the modder and 45% to us. We ultimately decide this percentage, not Valve."

        Last edited 29/04/15 1:16 pm

          Bethesda are terrible, so I'm not surprised.

          Don't get me wrong, I've dropped a lot of time on Elder Scrolls games over the years and enjoyed much about them and have got enough out of them to be content with my purchase. But overall I feel their design ideas and motives are fairly flaky. :(

        That's interesting. Everything sold on Steam?
        I know that's true for their user-generated TF2/DOTA2 content, and retail games, but I'd also read that DLC was only 15%.

        I wonder which mods count more as... comparing to TF2/DOTA2 is a little unfair, because in THOSE games, the user hasn't already paid for the full game, because they're free. Whereas for Skyrim mods, Bethesda already got paid for a AAA title.

        What I think is frustrating is that anytime I've complained that 25% is bullshit, there's always someone jumps into 'correct' me about it not being ONLY Valve/Bethesda who gets the full 75%.

        Kind of like what you've done with @f4ction.
        His post don't say jack shit about what anyone else gets... just that 25% for the mod creator isn't enough. Whatever the arrangement is between Valve and Bethesda doesn't change the fact that 25% for the content-creator isn't enough.

      Nexus Mods, for one, displays a donation button for those modders who choose to enable it, but anecdotal evidence from mod developers in the various discussions about this over the past week suggest that it's very sparingly used by mod users. Splitting revenue from a donation button would dilute this even more.

        Nexus Mods content is, for a large number of mods, out of date compared to Steam Workshop and doesn't have anywhere near as broad a reach as Steam itself.

        Buuut you make a good point. I guess I'm just thinking "something is better than nothing". Which isn't ideal.

        Last edited 29/04/15 1:57 pm

    I wouldn't mind more visible donate buttons to support my favourite mod devs, but outright paying to access something that could potentially not work or break the game is not right.

    I want to download and try mods for free, and then actually have the OPTION to donate if I really like it.

    The times, they are a-changing.
    Modding tools and game-making tools are getting robust enough that there's now a fairly blurry area that exists between large effort mods and small early access titles. If there's a similar amount of work and value, why not?

      especially considering how many of one eventually became the other; eg.
      Counterstrike, HalfLife: Blue Shift, one of the original Battlefield 1942 mods (I think it might have been Desert Rats), Red Orchestra... not to mention some of the full conversions built on games like Civilization and Crusader Kings II have been bigger undertakings than several official expansion packs!

        Desert Combat. Loved that mod, couldn't fly helicopters for shit though.

          Oh man, that's tickling my fond memories. Put so many hours into DC at LAN parties with friends.

    Depends. For larger mods then I'm happy to donate. For smaller mods, no. I think a donate button as has been often suggested over the last week is exactly the way to go. There's also an issue though with someone who uses other people's mods in their work, then it becomes a bit muddy and also mods like Skywind that have a large team that likely don't know each other irl, how do you split any income over that?

    In the end modding is a hobby though. People do it through love of playing a game. There was no expectation of receiving anything other than peer recognition until a week ago. Money changes how a lot of people think and act. If there is to be any tangible reward for modding I believe it should be through the most highly skilled modders being offered roles in the industry as has happened in the past, especially through Valve themselves, but yes, by all means allow modders to have a donate button

      Well that isn't actually true. Some of the existing nexus skyrim mods are paid for. This was just another place to do it, although with the publisher getting a big chunk

        Which ones are paid for? I haven't come across any yet but I haven't gone through it extensively, just what video guides suggest to use. I always thought there was an option to donate to the mod author on Nexus though

        Btw, I shot off an email with my address, dis you receive?

    I thought paid mods were called DLC?

    Jokes aside, this was a tough question. I would absolutely love to see the modders that deserve to get paid being paid but there are so many factors to work out (Rights, royalties for dependecies, paywalls for things that fix issues) that a straight up "Pay X for this mod" just doesn't really work. That and it would quickly end up like mobile stores with a bunch of derivative works racing to the bottom. Donations seem to be the best option but don't guarantee the modder gets paid.

      I think you're hitting a lot closer to home with your joke than you think. At what stage do we just start judging DLC as just another paid for mod and compare its value on that same ground?
      What effect might that have on future modding tool decisions for companies that also release DLC?

      If people actually understood that DLC is just creator authorised modding, I think this conversation would go a whole different direction.

      As it stands... Bethesda being behind this push essentially made it all creator authorised modding, and no different to the base idea of DLC.
      The problems came with regards to lack of quality control, payment split, etc, etc.

      What is amusing now though is that people think this idea is dead and buried, but it's not. It'll be back, and probably much sooner than we think.

      Bethesda's next Fallout/ES game seems like a prime candidate actually, because they can implement it before the modding community even exists and basically say "We're not changing what already exists, but this is how it is going to be from now on."

    Straight answer? No.

    I've donated to bigger mods that have really impressed me - but usually total/large scale mods like Breaking Point for ArmA 3, ALiVE for ArmA 3 and Complex Mod for Homeworld 2. These sorts of mods are large scale, take a team of people and usually a whole lot of time to create and maintain. Particularly something like BP, which requires servers and infrastructure, so you're supporting mod development, as well as running costs.

    For stuff like weapon skins, or model changes in general - light stuff, I'm less inclined to. Not because I don't think it's worth it - just I don't get a whole lot of value out of those sorts of things. With the mods I mentioned above, I've blown hundreds and hundreds of hours on them - with still more to come. Slinging the guys 50 bucks here and there is more than worth it.

    Donations are the way - I don't think the devs should be taking royalties off any profits made, though. Mods are proven to increase the lifespan of a game, as well as sales in many cases. DayZ being the perfect example. Bohemia have always encouraged and nurtured the mod community for ArmA titles because they understand the benefit. How many copies of ArmA 2 were sold just by the mod alone? Admittedly not a typical example, but it proves my point.

      For stuff like weapon skins, or model changes in general - light stuff, I'm less inclined to.

      Here's the thing (playing Devil's Advocate here) - the market has already said yes the minute the developers started charging for this kind of content as DLC - if we say we shouldn't pay for that in mods then effectively we're saying the value of the content is derived by who produced it, rather than what it is. It's quite interesting territory to explore.

        It's a fair point. DLC makes mods harder to define or categorise, don't they? I mean the landscape these days is definitely different. I'm the generation that grew up with Aliens and Simpsons Doom, and every kind of PC modding that followed - but it's so different now.

        Last edited 29/04/15 11:51 am

          And it's the developers / publishers that opened that can of worms, not the modders.
          One possible extreme eventuality might be that games either have mod tools or DLC, but not both. All or nothing.

          I miss the days of the Max Payne Kung Fu mod. Probably my favourite mod of all time.

        I'd argue we shouldn't be paying for that kinda thing from the official devs either.

          Yeah, agreed. That branches into the confusion of what is a mod and what is DLC then.

          I'm thinking of it in terms of modding being a pure labour of love made by someone enthusiastic about the game and it's community. Also beautifully free from the constraints or design direction a publisher or someone might impose. Maybe that's an old fashioned view, considering I'm 34 and grew up with these things in possibly a different context to what they're becoming now.

    Whats the mod in the picture up top?

    Yes. Total conversions and stuff. Not for the minor mods that I saw them start changing for... THings that add a single piece of armor and probably only took an hour to make... Total conversions and stuff like that take months of work, and mod creators would like to be able to work on it fulltime.

    It's similar to Counterstrike. That game now costs I think about $30... and started as a large mod and it's definitely worth what you pay for it.

    Trouble is, a lot of people are cheapskates.

    I want what Valve thought would happen. A small offshoot of the modding scene making DLC quality mods, generating money for the people who make the mods and the people who put the effort into supporting modding their games, while providing new content for players. Like I said in another article I think Valve over estimated the people who would be participating, they're all still on schoolyard rules instead of operating at the level where money can change hands, but if there's a way to pull it off I'd love to see it happen.

    Doesn't really bother me to be honest, I've never used a mod before, that said I've never been into PC gaming much.

    No, the modding scene is too fluid and homebrew to try and commercialise without destroying it.
    Maybe if someone make a kind of publisher for large scale mods that could provide oversight and accountability and sort out money and rights and such. Modders could develop for the mod publisher in a similar way as game studios do, on a smaller scale.

    I would pay for something like Nehrim, that was better than Skyrim, but in general, yeah nah. Too many issues. Donation seems the way to go but even then that raises many of the same problems we saw this week.

    Why do all my comments need approved?

    I would like a donate feature, and for modders to say "If [so much] is donated, this will be added to the game." sort of like patreon/kickstarter.

      We've actually got some sort of precedent for this when it comes to World of Warcraft.

      The User Interface for WoW has been modified INCREDIBLY heavily over the years and a staggering number of the more popular modifications have actually ended up being stolen, tweaked, and absorbed into the official basic interface.

    I used to mod Halo CE and was part of a team that produced what's considered the most faithful and original campaign mod to the original game by the community. When we made mods -- when anyone made mods in that community, it was to share, improve and have fun. There was no monetary incentive behind it all, it was a hobby we all enjoyed and strove to make the most awesome thing to share. Sure there was a bit of glory seeking from peers but no way was there any financial motivation. As a past modder, I don't think paid mods are healthy. What makes mods special is that it's done out of someone's love and passion for the game and willingness to share it with the community because of how much they love it and the game, but paid mods throw a wrench into that and just makes the whole idea of why a person makes a mod almost cynical.

    It honestly would depend on the mod. Looking at the mods I have used for various games there are some I would be happy to pay for, and others I would not. There are many variables that would be go into that decision. The quality of the mod, it being updated regularly, what the mod actually does, the length of availability (as in, will it be around for years? or will the modder get tired of updating it, and retire it?) Its not a simple yes/no answer.

    As others have suggested, a donate button would be great in the short term. But there should be some way to support those modders that put in a lot of time and effort into mods. Maybe some kind of model like Valve uses for TF2 and their user contributed content. Example: if you make a map and valve use it for TF2 - when people like it they can buy the stamp in the store and the money from that supports the creator. I don't know how well it works, but its a fun way of giving to the creator.

    Nah. If a modder wants to make their mode payed for then they'll find a way.

    It's really just too problematic.

    Example - I use a bunch of mods in The Witcher 2, but my favourites - which if I had to, I would pay for - are one which changes the roll animation to a pirouette, and another which removes the screen effects when playing on Dark mode.

    The problems - the animation is taken (with permission) from a bigger mod. I don't want the extras that come with that bigger mod, so I prefer the one I have. However, that mod creator didn't do the work. Therefore you've got an issue with working out payment splits etc, or whether the original modder even wants his work split into components.

    The second one - removing screen effects - is not much more than a hex edit. It makes a big change to the game, but with the right tool, anyone can do it without much knowledge or skill. Is that actually worth charging for?

    No. I'm ok with donating and have done before, but putting mods under the purchasing arrangement will introduce issues that will kill off mods eventually, such as copyright introduction etc with mods no longer being able to use (as said in another article) items from other games, suits, all that sort of thing, in fear of being sued because they're now monetised.

      For better or worse, using assets you don't have permission to use is illegal whether money changes hands or not. There's been some high profile stories over the past few years of free mods being shut down because of legal pressure.

      Besides, monetisation is an option, it doesn't have to apply to every mod. If you have a mod that uses stolen assets and you're concerned monetisation will draw legal attention, don't monetise it. Accepting donations draws as much legal attention as monetisation with some companies.

    I want big-arse paid mods, but really from 'companies' if you know what I mean. Like something that is effectively Half-Life 3, developed by people from the ground-up.

    From the 'mod scene' I'd prefer to see a donate mechanism where the modder gets at least 70% of the paltry revenue.

    Having just voted and seen the results I know I'm in the minority. I’m into the idea of paid mods.

    Mods are awesome. For me, they're one of the most exciting aspects of videogames. I hate the idea of how disposable videogames are these days. Bring up a game from five years ago and so many people don’t even seem to remember it (there was a game based on ‘The Warriors’?! oh and it was really great?). Mods have so much potential to breathe life into games and extend their life – and value to the consumer. ModDB is one of the sites I hit up regularly. Unfortunately all to often I see cool looking mod projects fail at various stages in the process. Any mod project regardless of size is a lot of work for not much reward. Sure it's great to have people play your mod and give you praise, have a community spring up around your mod. And there's always a chance that your mod will catch the eye of the developer, giving you a leg up into the industry. Still wouldn't it be nice if the developer could see some money for their hard work? This would also incentivise them to keep working on the mod, polishing it further and making it more content rich.

    The system Steam implemented had problems:

    - 25% for the creator doesn't seem fair - but you're playing in somebody else’s playground and getting a greater amount of exposure then you ever would if you were making a game from scratch. As the creator your also working within an established framework, with existing mechanics and AI systems already in place.
    - Anyone could release any old crap and charge for it, including stealing other peoples work. Steam maybe should've looked into some sort of moderation process (which I get takes time and money) before mods can be charged for.
    - Mod creators could overcharge. The market would sort this out pretty quickly. Steam has a pretty decent rating system in place. As long as consumers did their homework they shouldn't run into to many nasty situations.

    At the end of the day paid content for mods is happening – Dota 2 is doing it, Unreal Tournament is doing it, Skyrim paid mods will be back (once they work out the kinks). It has the potential to build communities and re-invigorate games. Skyrim is 3 1/2 years old, sure people can keep making mods for free pretty much forever (and they probably will if the original Doom Mods are anything to go by) but if you allow creators to charge for their mods then all the better. Even at only 25% if a mod does gang busters that’s nice bit of coin for the developer and Bethesda are much more likely to stand up and take notice of a particular mod if it’s generating money for them.

    I see people saying that if you like a mod just donate. Unfortunately most people won’t do that. Think about Spotify and then think about the last time you bought an album. Charging a price upfront guarantees the mod creator sees something for their hard work and ensures higher quality products come onto the market.

    TL;DR Mods are great – we should pay people that work tirelessly to create them.

    Yes. I want to make money off it and people don't donate. I don't think they should all cost money, but stuff that takes a lot of time, like the 3D modeling I do, which can be measured in time and money and which you would otherwise get paid for, should. High end 3D models are worth a lot of money in the right places and for mods, you're giving it away freely. A small price tag would work wonders to alleviate that.

    Also, I can count the number of big developers who support mods to the extent that Bethesda does on one hand. If it got more developers to offer the same support, then a 75% of the sale to the developers is fine by me.

      I want to make money off it and people don't donate.

      And when they do it's extermely unreliable. I mean look how many major mod projects fail to meet donation goals every month, and all they're looking to do is keep their sever costs covered. People are quick to say do this for free, have fun and let the donations be a bonus, but just because you're not doing this between the hours of 9 to 5 doesn't mean your time is worthless. If you were selling home made jewelery or something nobody would be telling you to give it away for free and just enjoy the process.

      When compared with typical game development breakdowns, 25% is frankly generous. In both cases you have publishing and distribution fees (Steam's cut) and third party liabilities (engine and middleware licensing, IP licensing, platform fees, etc, wrapped up in Bethesda's cut), but at the end of the day even a full-fledged development studio is going to get less than 25% of retail value unless they self-publish.

      Whether it's fair or not is up to individuals to figure out for themselves, of course, but a lot of the people complaining simply aren't aware that this is how the industry works. Developers really don't get that much of a cut.

        I think it's easy to say that 25% is bullshit and I'd kind of agree with that but people need to realise that if you made something really popular, like SkyUI, you might end up with an absurd amount of money in relation to the work you put in, even with a cut as small as 25%.

    Donate button as others have said. The logistics of a payment system is simply not possible with the nature of mods, especially with something like a Bethesda game.

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