People should get paid for their work. Yes, that even includes people making mods for PC games.
Today, Valve — the company that owns and operates the Steam digital-distribution service — announced that it will enable mod creators to charge money for their creations. Modders can list their add-ons, expansions, and items on the Steam Workshop and set a price for their content, and then they’ll get a cut of that money (the rest goes to Steam and the publisher). Valve says this is a way for players to support these creators and to ensure a healthy community that will keep making more. This program begins today with the Steam Workshop for publisher Bethesda’s open-world role-playing game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. PC gaming will make around $33 billion this year, and Steam is the biggest store for games on the platform.
Valve posted the following statement on the Steam homepage:
The Steam Workshop has always been a great place for sharing mods, maps, and all kinds of items that you’ve created. Now, it’s also a great place for selling those creations.
With a new, streamlined process for listing and selling your creations, the Steam Workshop now supports buying mods directly from the Workshop, to be immediately usable in game.Discover the best new mods for your game and enable the creators to continue making new items and experiences.
Bethesda Game Studios has a history of providing strong support for user modifications in their games. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has continued that tradition, adding a comprehensive editor and integration with the Steam Workshop back in 2012. There are now well over 24,000 free mods available for Skyrim via the Steam Workshop, adding everything from new soundscapes to epic multi-hour quests, to tweaks that perfect the reflections on water.
With the launch of paid mods in Skyrim, you can now support mod authors that are creating top quality items and amazing new experiences for your game.
This represents a major shift away from the traditional model, where all mods for PC games were free. Valve realizes that, and it is offering a few options to ensure anyone spending money feels good about it. First, you can try any mod risk-free for 24 hours. This means that if you spend money on something and hate it, you can return it and get all of your money back.
Additionally, Valve is introducing a pay-what-you-want option, which will let people download a mod for free, but then they can also chip in a few dollars if they want to.
This is a further evolution of Valve’s attempts to include the community in its economy. The publisher has already enabled users to sell their Workshop creations for games like Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2. Valve took a cut of those sales, and then the creators got the rest of the money. The company has since expanded that system to other, non-Valve games. But that content was all for free-to-play, always-online games, which is unlike the traditional PC-game mod. This is something new.