For now it's Skyrim only. Thoughts?
Just by chance Skyrim is 75% off this weekend?
$4.99 That's Steam pushing the paid mods.
The publisher decides when to run sales, and the developer decided that modders should get only 25%. Not Steam. But obviously it is set to coincide with this release, and Bethesda and Steam are working on this together.
Around 10 years ago Bioware implemented an effective solution to this problem. Once someone finished proving themselves in the mod community, they could form up a mod team with others of renown, incorporate, then contract out to Bioware for making Neverwinter Nights DLC. But this opportunity would present itself only if the team could convince the company they and the product selling were worth the attention.A percentage of the sales got poured into developing future game patches with new features, mod crews got paid, modders suddenly now had a reputable portfolio to be taken seriously, customers get new products to buy, Bioware increases sales, and all the priced content was inevitably released in raw form after final support ended. The feedback loop produced a better game in the long run. The trick was bringing in only the longest and most respected members who had given to the community already. It would be nice if the entire industry had learned something from it.
I don't have much of an opinion on this - I almost never use mods, and hate it when devs tout it as a major feature of their game that it will soon be populated with content from random players. I did come across this article though, so I thought I'd link it:
and a Steam thread linked in it, where Skyrim modders themselves seem pretty horrified:
I'm not saying I agree or disagree with it, as a non-mod-user it doesn't affect me much. I do, however, fear devs going down the path of releasing frameworks of games and relying on modders to fill in the content. For me, gaming isn't about technical engine development, it's about a consistent and unified artistic vision. The few mods I have used in my life tend to be total conversion ones for that reason.
Well, there are "mods" and then there are those epic mods that do match the professional works, but there are also games that need those "mods" to be playable, and Skyrim is one of them...
There's a great deal of content in the modding realm that isn't actually modding, but simply bug fixing, when it comes to Bethesda's games. A great deal of it is much like TSOP for sins, but because of how open the system is to modding, they can fix an astounding amount of errors. The community created unofficial patches are all but required, you can play without them, and many people wont even notice most of the bugs they fix, but eventually you're going to get stuck in a door, have your save corrupted, or trigger one of the hundreds and even thousands of bugs the very sloppy Bethesda leaves riddled in their games even after multiple patches.
Even after they're bug fixed, I don't consider them to be worth playing, unmodified, but mods are a pretty huge part of their draw, and I'm guessing they wont be if they end up being paid, primarily.
or they will rush the mod out so they can start charging money
I just had a rather silly thought. Modding has traditionally been about passion and people wanting to push the limits of games etc. What's important is that it wasn't about money. But what happens if you turn that "argument" up-side down? Of course modding was about those things because there was no way to get paid (reliably).
Is there something in this new paid mod structure that prevents people with passion etc from modding for free? I don't think so.
Are we likely to see more free mods go pay-2-play? Very likely.
Did non-modders benefit greatly from the tradition of getting free content? Absolutely.
Did the developers who built mod-friendly games benefit? Broadly speaking yes (although difficult to measure investment/reward). For example I picked up Sosa2 solely for the star trek mods (shout out btw).
Are non-modders likely to suffer a reduction in the quality and quantity of free mods? Probably yes! They are of course not entitled to anything, really. But for the vast vocal majority this will always be a sore point.
Will paid mods increase the level of quality provided by mods? Probably yes, although I think long-term larger collaborations are unlikely to happen. Paid mods will probably always be small-scale, or produced by professionals. Because you can't really engage people to contribute to your project if it's not free, and knowledge and profit sharing is unlikely to work because kids.
Did the old way of doing things actually prevent some interesting mods from getting made? Likely yes! Whereas the formula used to be "passion -> mod" now it's "passion+money->mod" where either passion or money can actually be zero. And it's not too difficult to imagine situations were mods simply didn't get made because there was no funding. I already posted such an example earlier in the thread.
People who never paid and never will stand to lose from this paid mods business. I don't think there's any way around that. The really interesting question is this: Is the added benefit to all the consumers of a product larger or smaller than the benefit removed?
Over the next months we're likely to see all sorts of interesting developments in this area. For example:
- Free library mods that paid mods depend on are likely to attempt to retaliate by preventing access from paid mods. Although some made them free for the sake of being open, others will be hurt that paid mods are using their freely available effort to benefit paywall new content.
- Kickstarter for mods. A likely result of wanting high-quality large mods by professionals. How are they to know what will sell? Go kickstarter! Actually there's already a guy doing buildings for Cities Skylines that set up a patreon with the purpose of getting money so he can spend more time modding that game. Although in that case, it's still donation-based and the content is free upon release afaik.
- There's bound to be new business models. For example, imagine a situation where a mod is initially given away for free (with express intent to later become pay-2-play). The early adopters get free access permanently, in return they provide feedback and exposure. The mod continues to grow in size, adding content. The price goes up, and will continue to do so for as long as the mod is being developed. Now people who are unsure may be pushed to commit before the mod grows too expensive. On the other hand, the price is constantly "fair" in the sense that you pay for what you get right now. But you still have the early adopters, happy that they were in on the ground floor, giving it good ratings etc.
Obviously there's a rather large shitstorm against paid mods on the internet right now. And they're likely to dominate the "news" regarding this new market for the foreseeable future. But beyond knowing why paid mods are shit, I'm also looking forward to seeing why they aren't. Although news about that is likely to be significantly harder to come by, not only because it wlil be rare, but that detractors will try to suppress it.
Well, on the "better" front, I'm guessing we'll need to see numbers first. If some guy doing a hundred thousand plus downloads with each release ends up getting <200 when they go paywall, we're in for a real shit kicker of recriminations and indigestion over thousands of man hours amounting to a couple hundred bucks spread between a dozen people and no one actually appreciating their work.
If a successful mod of size stays successful even after being paid, we'll have an example of this working. There are a few mods up that are 100k plus already, that we'll be able to keep track of the subscribers on. It looks like people are going to make serious money off high quality armor, the shadow scale set has already broken 2k subscribers at it's 1.99 price tag. I don't know whether congratulations are in order for that accomplishment or not, horse armor for 5 bucks got Bethesda lynched after all...
Well, that was quick.
Yeah, I guess that's that.
Great that they take it back for reiteration. There were just too many problems with their implementation. Taking 75% of the money? Needing to reach 400$ sales before you could withdraw the smallest amount, 100$? A system ripe with stolen content and the response from reporting that being way too slow? NO quality control? A 24hour grace period for refunds? No donate button?
And from a PR perspective, there were mistakes that made everyone turn against them quickly. They allowed previously free mods to become paid. They chose Skyrim, a notoriously buggy experience that depends on mods so much more than other games. They were not clear what the benefits were for the non-modders in their initial introduction. Gaben also had a real shitty Ask-Me-Anything interview on Reddit with nothing but corporate or soft answers. (And what they say themselves, Elder scrolls has ten+ years of modding tradition that they tried to alter with the wave of a hand).
Still, it's worth repeating that this is not their first revenue sharing model aimed at modders. They've done it with TF2 and they're doing it with Dota2. In 2013, Gaben said "We think that we're super productive and badass at making TF2 content, but even at this early stage we cannot compete with our customers in the production of content for this environment". And in 2015 they announced that they had paid out $57 million from the start of the program (meaning their cut of the revenue was likely $150mil or more), so they have a huge incentive to make this work with other products.
On the other hand, they rolled out similar programs for Dungeon Defenders Eternity and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare earlier this year. Those appear to have been "stillborn", so we're unlikely to see the same features roll out in the future for games with very small playerbases.
The $100 bit is actually sensible. It costs money to handle money, so chipping away at your revenue 50 cents at a time would blow a lot of revenue for no reason.
I always thought of the hats and crap as "we made this game for free, throw money at us if you're happy about it" and letting third parties create them as just an easier way to build content for people to "throw money at them" to get. If you had to buy TF2, and pay a service fee for DOTA2, it wouldn't be the same.
All my Dystopian dreams crushed once again. Just got the message from a petition I added my name to yesterday. That was... beyond fast.
That's actually fine, to a limit. There should also be a timeframe attached. Say you can't withdraw until you hit $100 *OR* (x) number of months has passed.
Ah, the classic "one step back, two steps forward" maneuver
Most of the discussion has to do with paying for Mods. What about Modders allowing free downloads and having a donation button for those that want to contribute to the author(s) (Paypal or other). I've seen other businesses do this to get around some of the legal nasty.
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