This week, Valve released their pitch to allow mod creators to, in conjunction with the people who created the original game, sell their mods on Steam. The whole thing erupted into quite a ‘thing’ on the internet, prompting Gaben to come placate the masses, and in general put me into the uncomfortable position of generally agreeing with Milo and Brad Wardell,. So that’s weird. But hey, at least the same article points out that Mark Kern is wrong.
Brad’s points not withstanding, when I think about mods, I think about game events that unleashed real, marketable change on the entirety of the games industry. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of LMCTF for Quake (among many others), Curse Add-on Management for WoW, DotA for Warcraft 3, and Team Fortress (1) for Half-Life. In many cases, mods are as popular (if not more) than the base game.
One of the things that bugs me deeply is the team that had the idea for DOTA aren’t the ones that got rich off of it. That honor went to Riot, who released the excellent if not entirely original League of Legends off of the core mod’s design. Meanwhile, most mod creators, even if they are downloaded millions of times, are thankful they can turn that into a bullet point on a resume to get an entry level job.
It’s a sucky position for mod creators. Many times mods amount to XPack quality of content that extend the life of their base games for years – they are vital in some game communities – and yet, mod creators rarely get anything for their passion other than an ‘attaboy’. We would see more good mods if the mod creators got some revenue that reduced pressure on them to maintain a day job.
From that thread:
Considering valve is a company that owes many of its early games to mods, do you think that if you had to pay 5 dollars for the original Counter Strike, or Dota mod, would they have ever taken off?
Depends on so many things. This includes the pricing, whether or not there was a free variant you could play, etc. But it also includes the fact that Valve and Blizzard are more inclined to support and market mods that earn them a revenue stream.
Mods should remain free, yo!
And most probably will.
Why should Bethesda and Valve get such large cuts of the profits?
Well, because Bethesda spent about $85 million dollars creating the artwork, engine and dev tools for the game that is central to the mod. And Valve is providing an invaluable service in distributing the mods cheaply and easily.
Valve should let players donate what they want, including $0!
Valve has announced that that is part of their plans.
What if some mods suck?
You have 24 hours to turn around and ask for a refund. The refund will go into your steam wallet. Don’t pretend you’re not going to find something on Steam to spend your wallet on.
No, I mean, some of these mods REALLY suck.
In that case, you really want an integrated download system that allows for players to rank and comment on mods so you can review them before downloading. You know, one kind of like Steam. At any rate, half-baked stuff is no stranger to PC gaming. Early Access remains highly controversial, yet some love it, while many (probably most) others have learned that anything on that part of Steam is caveat emptor.
At any rate, selling mods IS NOT NEW. Wardell’s company has done it for years. Second Life has done it for years. Nexus has done it for a while now. Why people choose to get worked up because one of the most trustworthy names in the market has come along and said they want to extend that level of trustworthiness to a new arena is one I find kind of baffling.