The great "Paid Mods" debate.

This friday, paid mods were introduced as a new option for the modders of Skyrim. They could add a “pay what you want” option or just charge for a price for the mod. The mod author gets 25% and steam/bethesda get the other 75%.
This has caused a massive backslash, completely insane. The execution of the idea was absolutely ABYSMAL, with mods that were free now wanting to become paid, and the fear of mod dependencies being broken.
Gabe Newell himself went to reddit to discuss the mod debacle, . Use the Gabe profile to find the answers, in some cases they were downvoted to hell, so they are at the bottom.
Here you can read the important ones a bit easier:

I find it interesting to do a dicussing here, in a place where its not universally hated and the second coming of Hitler. In fact, this is the whole monetization system of Unreal Tournament 4, wich is a much better implementation of this system.

I have some pros/cons i think of this:


  • Modders can earn something with their hard work
  • More companies would want to add good mod support, as it gives them direct money


  • Mods that were free are now paid(in skyrim case)
  • HUGE problems with copyright and stealing
  • The enormous community backslash

I find it a shame that it turned up as another massive internet hatetrain, with no brakes. The idea isnt bad by itself, but needs a lot of tweaking in Steam to work.

I think it’s basically a good idea, but the execution was… not really good.

In the German game magazine Gamestar, a developer of the huge Skyrim mod “Enderal” said why they still want their mod to be available for free (,45309,3085218.html):

  • If they charged ~30$ for that, they’d get about ~7.5 of it. That’s not the best you could achieve, but it’s a beginining. But there comes a problem: Even if you’d charge just a cent for it, your mod becomes commercial which brings you to overwhelmingly large additional costs, including voice actors, external service providers and expensive software licenses. Additionally, they’ve used some resources by other modders which must/should be paid, too. To afford all that, they’d have to sell an insane amount of copies, and it’s doubtable many people will pay 30$ for that.
  • There are some confusions on the license agreement: Is the developer of a paid mod obliged to do support? Can developers be sued for system damages? Do mod creators, who often enough aren’t professional game developrs, even know what they’re going into? Bethesda is unspecific and says “Mod at your own risk”.
  • “Enderal”-specific: They’ve promised their mod to be free and they want to keep it that way, though it’s attractive to earn money with that. But they doubt the 25% portion makes it worth to jump in all those problems and insecurities.

And again, the internet’s doing nothing else than hating for even less appropriate reasons like “I’ve already paid for the game, I don’t want to pay even more for mods”.
Anyway, I think even a simple donation integration would’ve been better.

If feel free to correct me if the circumstances have changed, I’m not that good informed about this whole topic :wink:

without reading the whole thing though i was chatting with a few guys last night about it, the whole thing reminds me of when the so-called DLC started eg a studio would release a full priced game then a few weeks later they would start selling DLC packs, this has now moved on to modding because the Studio doesn’t have the time or will power to add content BUT they still want the money for it, imo if a game/studio insisted that mods must be paid for then i would stop using that game, also when you see the price split where the modders only get 25% maybe this is standard within the industrybut i would really think twice about that, you do all the work and they get all the cash.

in the end most likely the best way to kill modding like they did with DLC, i think the future looks a bit grim on that side, but if the mod teams have a bit of skill they can always use UE4 and make an indie game, i know its not that easy/simple but most likely the only option for these people.

Ignoring the ethical debate, it’s very clear where the big mistake was made.

Where things went wrong, is that they decided to enable this for a game that has already been out for four years and has a massive established modding community - a community that has built it’s own tools and has long been sharing content between themselves, and one that has produced some 36,000 freely downloadable mods, often with a complex chain of dependencies on other projects.

The result is a mess. The general player who has enjoyed mods for four years is left scratching their heads and wondering why they now have to pay for something that has always been free, a fact that may be why they have Skyrim in the first place (many console Skyrim players actively switched to PC for the extensive mod support). If something you’ve been recieving for free for four years suddenly costs money, you’d be pretty ******, and rightfully so.

Mods that were free before now cost money - the users aren’t happy. Some mods that are still free are reliant upon mods that aren’t - the users lose out. Some mods that cost money are reliant on other mods that cost money - both the user and the developer have lost out. Some mods that cost money are reliant on free mods - should the author of the free mod be entitled to some of the income the author of the paid mod is making through this? What about the people who developed the tools everyone is using to produce paid mods - are they not entitled to their cut too?

The whole thing is a colossal cluster**** of legal and ethical proportions. I’m actually a little astounded Valve could do something so ineffably stupid.

Only 25%?? Modders should give mods for free with a donation link with some random excuse like “because I am cute” or something like that. People will get mods for free, people who think modders deserve money will donate, modder will get 100% of the money, Valve and Bethesda can go to hell.

I’ve lost quite a bit of respect for Valve over the years. first forcing Steam on everyone. Then the incredible torture of waiting for HL3. Now, They have outdone them all. This will hurt the modding scene pretty bad.
Bethesda I expect this from… But Valve! Well now we will be weeding out the TRUE modders from the losers. Nothing wrong if you want money. (look at counter strike, free but then there is the pay for version) But this is just ridicules! Now steam will be flooded with !$% DLC! Sorry for ranting but this is just insane. There is a group on Steam called the Free Modders Alliance. Let’s all go join them! (did I get that name right?)

A decent modder charging for decent content?
Sounds good.

Valve’s cut?
Seems standard.

Bethesda’s cut?

Bethesda in general?
Not a fan of their (alleged but highly likely) business practices.
After I got burnt buying Fallout3, I no longer buy a Bethesda game until all the DLC is out and modders have fixed it.

Paid modding isn’t what most people have a problem with, because if you have good, content-rich addons, you deserve the money. What most people take issue with is not only Bethesda’s cut of the money being colossal, but the legal mess Skyrim modding in particular creates going commercial. Most of the “high-end” mods are based on one of two frameworks: the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) for script-heavy mechanics and story mods and Fore’s New Idles in Skyrim (FNIS) for most animation mods, and sometimes both! What if some dolt decides to try and sell either of these on the workshop? I mean there was already an incident with Chesko involving FNIS, which is why his mods aren’t available at all anymore (however silly his reasoning may have been we have to accept it unfortunately), and I’m fairly certain the SKSE team wouldn’t really want people selling an open-source mod.

The idea behind commercial mods is great but the execution was absolutely awful.

Hit the nail on the head right here.

Modders get 25%? That’s not even worth the trouble in my opinion. So much for supporting modders, when the studio that already made plenty is going to make even more off of your work. I guess not every developer can be as fair as Epic, who take 30% for themselves not 75%. As Vblanco said they should have taken a cue from Unreal Tournament. It also shouldn’t have been retroactive, if people already had mods but not need to pay for them to play with content that was free the other day. If I’m to understand that correctly? It should have been enacted for future content only, which would have resolved a lot of the problems they’re running into now with dependencies and the like.

Giving modders an opportunity to earn some coin for their efforts is a great idea, the actual implementation of it smells too much like Bethesda to me, which is a shame since a coin first model weakens the communities that provide the environment that modding needs to thrive.
However even though this was poorly done, it is a first step and there are enough smart people around to look at this and develop a much better model for the future.

“Remember when games were playable.”

“Remember when expansion packs mattered.”

“Remember when there were demos.”

I never thought I’d be adding: “Remember when mods were free” to my list, but here we are.

~ Jason

If a mod features a majority of custom content and is of quality, I have no issue with paying for it. However in this system I would feel hesitant given that only 25% of the funds are going to the hard working developers who would have created it.

It’s not the modders shouldn’t make money, it’s just that all the mods that deserve money aren’t asking for it.

Instead we are getting glorified Steam Hats, but instead Steam Hats it’s Skyrim Fishing Poles.

Modding was always a fun hobby, both to make and to play.
People could add to a game they loved without having to make a game themselves.
Players would be able to get more out of the game they loved for no extra cost.
Now, think back to DOOM. Serenity, Infinity, Eternity were great mod packs all of which were free.
In some cases DOOM modders got to be part of true development.

I have no problem with making a full-game off of a mod (i.e. Counter Strike, Dear Esther), but to charge money for something that could be broken or stolen is not right.

Many great independent games are free and someone expects me to pay for mods?

I’m all for helping modders, but not by paying for mods. I’ll gladly donate money if a team asked for it.

Something just seems off about paying for a fishing rod.

I guess it’s all in context. I’ll buy Underhell: Chapter 2, but I would never give a cent to the guy that creates Skyrim: The Adventure of My Little Pony

Generally speaking total conversion or mods which have a custom story/original ideas should be able to be sold. I would be perfectly fine with that.
However, the fact that Bethseda is basically pushing accessories scares me for the future.

Think about it.
If modders see they can make money by making a helmet, who’s going to want to create something like Underhell or Dear Esther again.

Yet again this decade has ruined something great.

~ Jason

IMO, the net affect of paid mods is negative. Whether modders should enjoy the privilege of being able to charge at their discretion is immaterial. I believe that the game and community are overall served better if people cannot charge for mods. If that deters some from modding, I am fine with that, we haven’t lacked for quality mods in past years. Regardless of the issues with stolen mods, lack of maintenance, the cut that is given to the mod creator(s), etc. I just don’t think there’s any scenario in which having paid mods is the best decision for the community.

I really don’t understand the problems people have with this idea. Modders don’t have to charge. And saying you think people shouldn’t have the option to do this, is also wrong-headed in my opinion. People are being given extra choice. From what I’ve read on the net, a lot of people are advocating that this choice should not be open to people, which I really don’t understand.

Yes, the Dev cut seems steep, but aside from some other points, this sounds good to me.

Modding has never guaranteed support for the mods, which was never an issue when they were free. Now, the occasionally rather chaotic (:)) community behind them will have paying customers. This isn’t a problem for games released a while ago (which is one of the reasons I suspect they picked Skyrim, on top of the fact that it is a very mod-friendly game), and are no longer updated, but more recent games get updates and these could break the mods in ways the modders can’t fix, or who have moved on to other projects.

What happens to people who mod the mods, and fix the broken ones? Can they get paid, if they choose?

Who gets to judge which paid mod broke another paid mod, as they were trying to change the same thing in a game? So who gets the blame and the customer’s ire?

This will matter. £10 is nothing to me, but to some people it will be an outrageous amount could represent several months game spend.

None of this is meant to say that this shouldn’t happen, in my opinion. Just there will be new issues in modding relating to the money involved. I don’t think this is an end to modding, just a period of evolution. That said, a donate button (which is effectively what people who produce TF2 levels get, in the form a tip jar, when you buy something from the TF2 store) is a great idea. Not sure why it hasn’t been used more.

But my main wish is that EA see this. Go on, EA. This will make money for you. Go on, open up the Frostbite engine for modding. Let there be Dragon Age Inquisition mods. Please!. (Dear mods, make Drinq mods, and then don’t charge, kthanxbye :slight_smile: ).

^ I’m with you on that. Waiting for a modder or Bioware to give us some proper Dalish and Qunari armors. What’s a fan gotta do? =P

Apparently if you use the refund policy on the marketplace, you get banned from the marketplace for 7 days:

Not sure how legit this is.

Binary Apocalypse Now!
This is the best mod you can get under 5 bucks!

Bethesda weigh in: