Valve Cancels Paid Mods For Skyrim

Valve Cancels Paid Mods For Skyrim

Well, that was fast. Less than a week after implementing the arrangement, Valve and Bethesda have decided to cancel their paid mods scheme for Skyrim, and issue refunds to anyone who paid for one.

The deal, which would allow mod creators to sell their previously-free work on Steam (with Valve and Bethesda taking 75% of the cut), outraged fans, upset mod creators and even led to Valve boss Gabe Newell — on any other day one of the most beloved men on the internet — getting his arse downvoted to oblivion on Reddit.

A statement from Valve employee Aldon Kroll on the Steam Community portal reads:

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 have 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.

Bethesda, too, have issued a lengthy statement explaining where they were coming from with the deal, and why they have made the decision with Valve to shelve this particular version. It's a long read, but worth it if you want a little more background to why the decisions were made.

After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear — this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.

While Valve and Bethesda may have a case somewhere, at some point in time to charge for mods (indeed, Kroll says Valve will simply be looking elsewhere to "start iterating" paid mods), this particular program was implemented terribly, in a way that showed either a lack of understanding of their community, or a lack of care for what they thought about the modding scene. Kudos to all involved for realising this, pulling the plug and going back to the drawing board.


    But I just uploaded my nude mod for The Urbz: Sims in the City.

    I must admit, I'm a little impressed at how quickly they actually go to this point, instead of sticking it out until everything was completely broken first.

    ETA: I hope what this does is encourages more people to donate to the makers of their favourite mods, though. Mod makers who go the hard yards do deserve to get something back for their work.

    Last edited 28/04/15 9:27 am

      Agreed, credit where it's due: they saw that it was broken, admitted they were wrong and put forward what they had been trying to do. Seems like they've been pretty transparent with the failure.

      Fair bump, play on.

      Modding is portfolio building, a hobby, and a creative outlet. I've never considered taking donations for anything without a networking upkeep, and I can't see how anything made for skyrim could warrant it (from the devs perspective). I always found it exciting and rewarding work, and strangely more fun than playing the game.

      That's not a knock against the quality of the work here, but places like planethalflife and racesimcentral worked so brilliantly without any money involved.

      God I miss the hl1 modding community...

        While I applaud modding as creative tinkering, I think the idea of paid mods is solid. You could have whole studios devoted to mods, utilizing the assets of existing AAA games instead of having to build everything from scratch.

        My hope is for more stuff like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon... Standalone products, similar and yet distinctly different from the original game. The big studios get what amounts to free development of quality DLC, and independent studios get to use these big-budget assets to make great games. Since there is revenue behind it, you would have much more incentive to offer ongoing updates, whereas existing mods rely solely on the modder having the free time and inclination to keep the mod functioning.

        Even stuff like the HL3 episodes... I can see stuff like that coming out of paid mods.

        Last edited 28/04/15 10:44 am

          Frankly, when I first heard that there was going to be paid mods available, my first thought was that the existing free Half-Life mods like current front-page mod (for me anyway) Cry of Fear were finally getting approval to charge for their total-conversion/episode work, by Valve.

          I was excited about that prospect until I discovered that 'paid mods' actually meant it focused on the DLC-like horse armour mods, re-skins and the like, or monetizing some of the most valuable dependencies in the community, such as SKSE or SkyUI.

          When THAT whole tangle of clusterfuckery became obvious, I got considerably less excited and significantly more skeptical about how much they understood about the community, or the ramifications of their decisions.

            At the very least they appear to be learning from their mistakes.

            I think the gaming world will benefit from modders being able to do what they do as a full-time job... or at least a part-time job. At the moment, it's a timesink with very little tangible benefit for the time, patience and skill it takes to make a great mod.

              It's so nice to see a few people who I agree with in the midst of this shitstorm. I hope it comes back, stronger than before


      I know, right? I absolutely hate it when a company listens to their customers and cares about what the community wants.

    We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing

    It's pretty awesome of them to admit their mistakes and listen to the community.

      But they knew what they were doing: making more money. They didn't know how to do it without this massive debacle occurring.

      As refreshing as seeing that admission is, the statement was full of doublespeak. And as referenced by @snacuum, this sharing of the rewards will simply be re-tested on a yet to be released product once they have reworked their strategy.

      It'll definitely be in tandem with a publisher such as Bethesda again as the only way to remove vestiges of existing modding culture will be a new game ip, using a new engine, which will require new modding tools (which will possibly only be available through Steam for a nominal fee).

      They can then breed a new generation of consumers used to micro-transaction dlc in the form of community mods. Sure, there will still be official dlc - with lucky modders possibly being recruited or just having their work featured - but this time a bigger share goes to Valve cuz official dlc.

        Oh, I've seen how this will pan out.

        Last edited 29/04/15 1:31 pm

    At the nub of it, it wasn't a terrible idea. It however needed to be debated and all the angles explored and discussed. As it was, it was dropped on the community with very little thought.

    Valve I hereby pronounce you redeemed.

    If this was EA we'd get a marketing blurb on how innovative and game-changing this is and they're going to be adding new features to this new feature.

      If it was EA there wouldn't have been anything free in the first place that they could have started charging for :P

    I've never seen a petition get so many signatures so fast. 133k. That's insane. REAL issues usually don't get that many, let alone Internet torch-and-pitchfork mobs.

      Internet torch-and-pitchfork mobs are always the fastest petitions to fill. Who wants to deal with real issues when you can fake outrage about trivial things instead?

        Enh. I seem to recall any time I've seen one linked in an article it's always been a pretty damning confirmation of the whole 'vocal minority' accusation. Couple thousand at best. I guess I've missed all the 'cool' petitions. :)

    Any mod added or changed to be a paid mod should have gone through valve (maybe Bethesda) for approval (with consideration to community ratings). That way only quality mods could have been listed as a purchasable mod.

    Allowing people to slap whatever price they like on any mod was a ridiculous idea.

    Last edited 28/04/15 12:00 pm

      Or go through the Greenlight system, which in itself is flawed but would at least stop a lot of crap getting through

        yeah exactly, just need some quality control. 75% cut for valve and bethesda was pretty crazy though. Although, I'd rather get 15% of $2 than 0%.

        Or even better just have all mods follow a donation system instead.

    this is great news. Gamergate (and all gamers) win again!

    Should start with a donation button and go from there. The kindness of people cant be underestimated when it comes to a community.

      I think the problem the distributor (Valve) and the IP-holders (Beth) have with a 'donate" button is that in the conventional understanding of the system, the distributor doesn't get paid for their distribution costs and efforts, and the IP-holder doesn't get paid for someone profiting off their work. And donation systems come with their own perils as well, which you can start to get a feel for from the Nexus site-runner:

      Bethesda's blog shows that they very, very firmly believe that the split is fair, based on how much their own internal asset-creators get paid.

      I can see where everyone's coming from and the only answer I can think of is, "This probably isn't an arena which should be monetized and thus - by necessity - be regulated."

    Its a disappointment that Valve succumb to the whining entitled gamers... and the industry suffers as a result.
    whats wrong with having full time modder's on some kind of a basic wage

    you wouldn't download a car
    you wouldn't have sex with a prostitute for free

    gamers ruining games once again

      I know someone who had sex with a prostitute for free. But he'd know her from years earlier and the only reason they hadn't had sex then was because she had a boyfriend.

      Modding has and should always be a labour of love. Putting a price on that labour is going to do nothing but ruin it.

    I agree on letting people give money to modders, but this system was not the right way to do it.

    the fact that 25% of the money went to the modders is ridiculous, all of the money should go to the modders.

    Also the system turned the workshop into the apple app store, instead of it encouraging more people to make huge passion projects like Skywind, it instead promotes making a quick buck with 'funny' or OP items that can sell quickly and then be forgetten.

    Also what happens when the game updates and breaks a mod? it's the same as early access in that modders didn't legally have to fix it according to steams ToS. So someone could pay 5 bucks for a bunch of new armour sets that may not last forever.

    A simple donation button would work just fine, let people donate if they want to, maybe have a steam notification that shows up every 5 or so hours of gameplay that just says "hey, maybe you should donate to the mod owners?"

    So valve, go back to the drawing board on this one and make it better, i know they have said they want to do this for Dota 2 when custom games are released, so maybe use it on one of your own IP's first so no other company can get in the way.

      Are you a modder? I don't think you've put any real thought into what you're saying.

      Having all the profits go to the modder in no way acknowledges the original efforts of Bethesda in creating a new world for gamers and modders to play in. They should be compensated for creating such a great world.
      Bethesda's mistake was in believing that they should be compensated more than than the modders who are -to a great extent- keeping the game alive.
      In addition, Valve should also be compensated for hosting and distributing the content. That's also only fair.

      A donation system again in no way acknowledges Valve, or Bethesda and is unrealistic and should be an addition to the mod market. If you truly want to support your favourite modder, you'll be happy to cough up a few more bucks on top of the purchase price of a mod. Donations are after all, freely given gifts, not money paid for goods or services.

      And if you're comparing to the App Store, consider that Apple created the entire ecosystem ( the devices and the market), so they are definitely entitled to profit from it. But they were smart and only demand a 30% cut, which is more than fair. In turn, this not only encourages new developers to join, but further encourages them to continue to create quality content, and more of it.
      The cherry on the cake is that it is largely popularity-driven, which is a great way to bring quality content to the top and weed out the rubbish. This is what a mod market should include. Like Greenlight, there should be a rating system for both mods and modders, to help bring the best content and authors to the forefront.

    If the modder keeps 95% of the cash and the modder can choose to make it free or up to $5, then it will work.

    Last edited 28/04/15 1:51 pm

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but all the things mentioned by Newell became or are becoming commercial products because companies ponied up the cash to make them so, not because gamers started chucking cash at them.

    My only issue with this whole scheme is/was that say I want to buy Mod 1. Mod 1 requires Mod 2 to work, so I buy them both and am happy.

    Then Mod 2 gets an update that breaks Mod 1. Mod 1s creator isn't updating or patching Mod 1 to work any more because they are working on other mods or other games at this point. Now I've spent money on products that don't work anymore.

    Now I didn't go the petition and sign, because I truly don't care enough and rarely use mods anyway, as I'm mostly a console gamer that doesn't break his terms of service, but the chance of the example happening means I would be super hesitant to buy mods in the first place.

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