When the PC gaming master race community calls you a “false prophet”, you know you’re in trouble.
Such was the case with Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell this past week. After an AMA on Reddit, during which Gabe honestly answered dozens of paid mod-related questions in great detail, Gabe was lambasted by the PC gaming community for suddenly turning on his greatest fans.
Yes, PC gamers suddenly seemed to forget all the good things Gabe had done for the industry. They forgot about Steam Sales. They forgot about Half Life. They forgot about The Orange Box and the fact that Team Fortress 2 is now free.
All they cared about was that there were 10 mods on Skyrim that cost between $0.25 and $5.00. And that made PC gamers mad.
Anyways, to make a long story short, Valve decided to reverse their decision and make the mod store for Skyrim completely free. There is no way to sell your Skyrim mods on Steam anymore.
Skyrim was the only game supported in the short-lived initiative. The paid mods program allowed gamers to list their mods on the Workshop for a price under $5. 75% of the mod’s revenue would go to Bethesda and Valve (it’s unknown how the revenue was split between the two) and 25% would go to the mod’s creator.
Some PC gaming fans didn’t like the fact that mods – which have always been free in PC gaming – suddenly cost real money. Most people, however, didn’t like the fact that the mod’s creator only got 25% of the revenue.
Supporting mod creators with real money is good. Funneling most of that money towards the developer and Valve? Not so good.
In a statement, Valve said the following:
“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.”
Valve went on to explain how they still believe “there’s a useful feature somewhere here”, although they could have done much better with the implementation:
“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.”
Why the 75% Revenue Share?
Valve explained why the revenue sharing model was weighted heavily in favor of the developer (75% of mod revenue goes to the developer and Valve).
Basically, Valve wanted to encourage developers to promote modding while also letting modders focus on their work full-time.
In Valve’s dream world, that would mean developers releasing fully moddable games which would then be worked on by professional mod developers.
Meanwhile, the Change.org petition reached 133,005 supporters before finally declaring a “Confirmed Victory.” That petition said “mods should be a free creation. Creations made by people who wish to add to the game so others can also enjoy said creation with the game.”
Where do you stand on the issue?