Diecast #101: Paid Skyrim Mods, Cult of Gaben

By Shamus
on Apr 27, 2015
Filed under:
Diecast

This week we spend nearly the entire podcast on a single topic. And then later this week my column is on the exact same thing. Sorry. This is going to be a rough couple of days if you don’t care about Skyrim mods, but this is apparently a topic dear to our hearts.

Direct link to this episode.
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Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris, Rutskarn, Mumbles.

Show notes:
2:00 Valve introducing paid Skyrim mods.

We talk about this for just under an hour. And I think there are still some angles we left uncovered. It really is amazing how much is wrong here.

56:00 The cult of Gaben.

cult_of_gaben.jpg

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A Hundred!A Hundred!2202 COMMENTS? What are you people talking about?!?

From the Archives:

  1. OboboboTheNerd says:

    The main problems I can think off the top of my head are:

    Lack of guaranteed long term support, lack of guaranteed compatibility, and increased proliferation of ‘cashgrab’ mods.

    Lack of guaranteed long term support means that if any patch comes along that breaks it, unless the original modder comes along and fixes it, it’s pretty much wasted money. This may not even be possible. For something like a dota item, you have a reasonable expectation that the item will work even years later. You don’t have this expectation for mods.

    Lack of guaranteed compatibility means any mod you buy might clash with any other mod, effectively wasting your money. I’ve encountered mods that take longer than 24 hours to figure out that they don’t work together, so the ‘refund’ in steam dollars doesn’t help. (Again) with a dota item, you have the reasonable expectation that the game will still work even with any combination of them.

    Increased proliferation of ‘cashgrab’ mods has already been seen. The poster child for the paid mods scheme, the Shadow Scale Set, is a single piece of armour, and requires that you add it via CONSOLE. No quest, no recipe, it’s not even located in the world. It’s also only modelled for male characters, and stretches oddly on females. I could go on, as a lot of the items immediately released are little better.

    There’s probably other problems I haven’t thought of, but even at first glance this seems like a terrible idea.

    EDIT: Listening to the podcast: There’s also the tools used to produce the mods. Some of the models used in Skyrim mods are done using modelling software that is free on the condition you use it non-commercially: Do the people who produce mods and sell them have to obtain a commercial license? From the few I’ve seen, they seem expensive for something you need to buy before you can make money at all (About $1000+ initial investment.)

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      The Shadow Scale armor is an example (and I’m not picking on you, I’m picking on other people) of the kind of detail people on Steam and Reddit are saying “This is why it doesn’t work” but at the same time is the kind of thing I feel like the market could sort out quickly.

      This is Day 4 or 5 of this market. Expectations are not set yet. This is the kind of thing people quickly learn. “If I’m going to charge for an armor set, it needs to work for both genders, for Khajiit and Argonians, and it needs to be integrated into the game either as a standard lootable/craftable/purchaseable or as a quest item and I need to make some kind of a quest for it.”

      I suspect one thing thats going to emerge quickly is, unless you’re making highly detailed original armors with scratch built models and textures, people are not going to buy your sets individually. I love aMidianborn’s work but I wouldn’t buy a retex of a single set of armor, I’d buy a pack of all his armors, not even on the assumption that it would be cheaper but because I don’t feel like punching in my credit card number six times.

      Side note, they mentioned ENB. If someone was going to charge for an ENB mod, I think the lion share should go to the creator. It would be like if I charged you a hundred dollars to install OpenOffice and set it up a certain way. ENB mods are just config files benefitting from the ENB maker who did the lionshare of the work.

      The thing that makes me want to hope for a model like this (which granted was launched with exactly the wrong combination of elements) is thinking about companies like Obsidian. How amazing could a paid mods system be for someone like Obsidian? You no longer have to even negotiate with the company its just “Oh look, Skyrim offers paid modding now, we’ve actually got an amazing idea for that setting.” You can argue the market for paid mods is small but if Obsidian published a paid mod for Skyrim, they’d create their own market. As a side benefit, if they’re charging, say, 20 bucks for a Falskaar level of content, thats going to recalibrate everyone’s expectations of what they should be getting for their money. If people are charging 5 bucks for a single suit of armor and you can get a whole meaty expansion for 20, suddenly people aren’t going to be buy that 5 dollar set of armor anymore.

      • OboboboTheNerd says:

        I’m not so sure that the market will sort this out, judging by how the lack of curation on steam has gone so far, and how previous largely uncontrolled markets have gone (Mobile market.)

        Time will tell, but I’d massively prefer if mod authors established a reputation for quality content and obtained money via Patreon or donations over putting a paywall in front of the mod. This kind of payment method encourages rampant piracy of the mods as well as ‘free’ versions which are deliberately sabotaged or irritating (Midas magic apparently has pop up ads.)

        Also, I stand corrected. Apparently Dota 2 arcana items (among many) are bugged, and have been for years. Items produced by valve themselves!

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          The app market has been through lots of tumult but its still here. Free software is still made. And lots of teams have been able to launch their own thing this way and make their own jobs essentially.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        This whole thing about “What about SKSE? What about MCM?” This is another thing I think the market could potentially sort out. If you really want to support modding, SKSE and MCM should come baked in. See also, conflict detection.

        • SKD says:

          Considering SKSE is produced and distributed freely with the stipulation that you cannot pack it into your mod but have to link to the author’s site instead I think that would be a bust. Especially if your mod is being sold for real money which then gives the author a good case for extracting a percentage of your profits on top of what Valve is already taking as its cut.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            The SKSE people were working with Valve to try to get it loaded onto Steam and Valve seemed cooperative.

            All of the reasonable concerns could have been addressed. Modders could have made agreements, Steam and Bethesda could have adjusted their percentages, modders were offering to leave their current iterations free and only paywall future versions (and its not like Skyrim is still getting updates, Sky UI 4.1 would have continued to work for everybody just fine.)

            But the mob wasn’t interested in that because it might mean they don’t get as much free stuff (if you’re going to charge Valve and Bethesda with being greedy, I’m going to call out their critics on their own greed.)

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        This is Day 4 or 5 of this market. Expectations are not set yet.

        That is true.However,it should be the job of the store to weed out at least the worst of these,not the customer.If steam had any quality control(which they shouldve implemented loooooong ago with greenlight),this wouldnt be such a big problem now.Sadly,they didnt learn a thing from their early endeavors.

      • David says:

        “This is Day 4 or 5 of this market.”

        Yes, and it’s also the last day of this market, making this whole discussion, and Shamus’s article tomorrow moot. That turned around fast.

        http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/04/27/valve-yanks-new-mod-sales-feature-from-steam-after-only-four-days/

        Edit: I guess I shouldn’t claim that Shamus’s article tomorrow is moot, since I haven’t read it. I’m sure it will be insightful, just unfortunate that the service it discusses has been canceled.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          I’m hopeful this won’t be moot. I’m hopeful that this will be a data point and that this will be tried again. The good thing is, the 30 45 25 split is so bad, it has hopefully calibrated people’s expectations so that, say, 20 30 50 doesn’t sound so bad.

      • Sall Manser says:

        The idea of paid mods was this: 45% for Bethesda, 30% for Valve, 25% for the modder. This was such a greedy and insolent cash grab it puts even GTA’s world practices to shame. So no, it would not work for Obsidian.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      It’s funny, just last week I was thinking of getting back into Skyrim safe in the knowledge that if there is anything I feel is missing or lacking, then there will most certainly be a mod for it….and now….

      yeah this sucks.

      And In regards to Rutskarn’s point on the entitlement of people wanting stuff for free: For me the problem is that it wasn’t always this way. I agree that the modders have the right to ask for money, but that doesn’t lessen the sour taste in my mouth from knowing that if I had started playing Skyrim again two weeks ago, these mods would have been free, but now I have to pay for it.

      From the End-User perspective I’m essentially being charged for bad timing.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Another thing about this – it’s done midway through Skyrim’s modding community’s lifecycle, so it’s a change in the product itself…for profit that’s probably waning anyways.

        Like sure – a lot of people have mods for Skyrim – but how many people are going to get something like SkyUI for the first time…starting today?

        It’s a change of procedure in a market as the market has probably already been flooded.

  2. Neko says:

    Another so soon? Awesome!

  3. shiroax says:

    Ah, a Diecast first thing monday morning (actually it’s 1PM, I sleep late). I missed it so much last week :)

  4. shiroax says:

    Mainly unrelated to subject at hand: Which version of the intro are we on? It got an upgrade around the time (because?) Shamus figured out he’s loudness warring himself iirc, has it received any other tinkering?

  5. RTBones says:

    Full disclosure – I havent listened yet, so you may already have detailed/discussed/dissected this. The biggest problem on the surface would be the tool sets. Most games I can think of that allow/encourage mods have some sort of agreement/EULA with their tool sets that dictate ‘non-commercial use’ only. If you charge for a mod, does that not mean you have used the tools for ‘commercial use’?

    • Thomas says:

      That’s why Bethesda get a cut. If they take some money for it then they also agree to let the paid mods exist in peace because the legal ground is super swampy.

      I even like that, I don’t think the cut should be so high (but it should be way higher than Valve’s cut. Of the modders, Valve and Bethesda; Valve is the only one who didn’t do any work to get the mod into existence, yet it’s the modders who are paid the least? And even in a world where Bethesda wasn’t a dick about it, Valve still think they should get nearly a third of this?)

      Wide and Nerdy pointed out in the forums that it also incentivises publishers to make games modder friendly (because that can be a lot of work)

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I did say that and now I’m thinking another speed bump we might find in the near future is a game late in its dev cycle deciding to make tools available.

        The ideal is that a game company creates its game with moddability in mind from day one so that its structured for it. If this idea isn’t already dead, a game franchise launching with tools that were added as an after thought late in the cycle will kill it.

        Incidentally, this is how you justify your cut. If you want a decent cut of third party mods, you need to give them a good system to mod with.

      • Ranneko says:

        Valve aren’t (or in this case weren’t) doing nothing. They are responsible for:
        – Payment Processing
        – Distribution
        – Refunds
        – Hosting

        Those aren’t nothing.

  6. The Rocketeer says:

    In Yahtzee Croshaw’s book Jam, there’s a cult of people who all claim to be part of the cult I-ronically. They completely conform to this cult, to the point of worshiping unseen figures and sacrificing human lives… but if anyone calls them out on their zealous behavior, they just guffaw and reassert that they know it’s not real, and they’re just being I-ronic. They did this because they were stupid, and not very good people, and wanted to belong someplace.

    Funny that Yahtzee also originated the whole PC Master Race thing as a sarcastic joke…

    • Hal says:

      Sort of reminds me of the “pastafarians” who fight to wear a collander in driver’s license photos.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yahtzee also recognizes that people are idiots and why a bunch of them took his joke way to far.

      But what else can you expect from such pleb converts?Everyone knows that true pc overlords who have never had their brains corrupted by consoles are the only ones sophisticated enough to understand the wit of our fuhrer Yahtzee,herculean exemplar extraordinaire.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    New one already?Shamoose,youll spoil us.

  8. So here’s a question for the cast if it doesn’t get answered in the DieCast (I’m only 20 minutes in): Why can’t the hypothetical kid without a credit card go get the Nexus Mod Manager and just start downloading there?

    Yes, this doesn’t address what happens if every modder goes on a pay-for model via Steam, but right now…

  9. Christopher says:

    For the mod situation:

    On paper, I support this. People pour hours and hours into making mods, really interesting mods, that can change a games fundamental gameplay, or story, or something. And good mod makers should be rewarded for their good work.

    I don’t know if -this- was the way to do it, though. I mean, my personal way would be a try and buy situation. Where there’s no paywall, and if you enjoy a mod you can throw your choice of $ amount at them if you feel it’s necessary.

    But this is something that’s never really been done before, so I’m not surprised it’s weird and broken right now. I think judging it as ‘final’ within even a month of release is premature. I think we have to let this one bake before we declare it good or not because again, on paper, I think this is a great idea for people to earn some money doing something they have a genuine passion for. But the system needs refinement.

    The cult of gabe:

    Personally, I feel like the reason Gabe gets such a cult following is because it feels like he alone treats us half like people instead of walking wallets. Even if that isn’t necessarily true, the consumer/producer relationship in the video game industry is so utterly toxic in some ways that someone not treating me like crap feels really good.

    I’m also of the opinion that if you have to have DRM, and steam is that, then it ought to be serviceable, and over all steam is a decent service. Not to invasive to me, keeps my games updated, and properly integrated games make it really easy to connect to and play with my friends.

    It’s also easier for me to keep in contact with people over steam then it is over skype. So it’s also become my primary social service on the computer as well.

    Oh, and the focus on PC gaming does mean something. Every other developer clambers to try and integrate both PC and console features to make it ‘easy’, hence games coming to PC with crappy controls or bad graphics for no reason other then ‘we had to do this for consoles’.

    It’s a nice feeling to believe that someone cares about your favorite form of gaming. And ultimately it’s about feelings.

    • Humanoid says:

      That PC gaming is rushing headlong into a new monopoly because ‘feelings’ is a huge part of the problem. For the sole reason of Gabe being charismatic – or at least not as outwardly repellant as various other videogame industry heads – it’s easy to forget he’s building a complete end-to-end empire where he gets a cut out of every single component of videogaming. A finger in every pie, starting with damn near 30% of all PC games revenue, then whatever cut he gets from hardware sales from Steam boxes, and now, of course, from mods.

      It’s frightening to me how many are willing to accept this goal, this “utopia” of eventually not being to do anything related to gaming on your PC without it being touched by at least one of Valve’s tendrils. No matter how nice a guy (or how good his PR) is behind it, it’s not a healthy development for a single entity to have that much control over an entire market.

      It’s gotten to the point where given the option, I will take Origin over Steam on any given title, not because it’s the superior platform (it’s marginally worse in its current state, but not impactingly so) but because I fear a looming future that has no competition. Faced with the looming precipice of total domination, I cling to maintaining the status quo.

      • Christopher says:

        But Valve nor Gabe Newell have done nothing under handed, to my knowledge, to cause the market to react that way. They aren’t keeping other people out due to underhanded business practices, other people are failing because, well in the case of Origin, EA is known for having very horrible business practices, from it’s own development to how it treats people who publish through it, see: maxis, and how it handles it’s own IP.

        Which in itself is emphasized by I think Shamus when he said “we aren’t raising him up because he’s a hero, but because he’s not a villain”. In an industry that again is incredibly consumer unfriendly overall, even a little bit of friendliness is seen as such a positive that it goes overboard.

        • silver Harloe says:

          I think, in general, the fear isn’t that you get to be a monopoly through underhanded tactics, but that you take advantage of your monopoly position after you get it. Also, even if you believe for whatever reason that GabeN will always be the perfect monopolist and never take advantage of his position, it is simply the case that he will not always be in charge. Eventually he will retire, be forced out, or die, and there’s no guarantee that the next person will be as nice.

          • Thomas says:

            And I mean Valve are already beginning to show that they’re happy to make people sign “you’re not allowed to sell this for cheaper anywhere else” contracts with their new engine. It’s easy to imagine a world where they decide to go even further with that.

            • wswordsmen says:

              Where is the cheaper clause? From what I heard they just wanted the chance to sell it on Steam. I mean they are giving you the engine for free, so they need to make their money somewhere and selling on Steam seems by far the least invasive way to do that.

        • DeadlyDark says:

          “But Valve nor Gabe Newell have done nothing under handed, to my knowledge, to cause the market to react that way. They aren’t keeping other people out due to underhanded business practices”
          Regional restrictions is the one and biggest thing if you live in Russia for example. Not only there is always danger to get the game only with Russian language, little chance to get different build (Dishonored, New Vegas, Borderlands 2; problems with that? Delays with patches and DLC), but there is very real possibility to be playable only in one country (what if I move?). And now the reason it’s all started faded (prices gone up significantly) the restrictions remains the same. For some people it’s Ok, they need only one language and they have no intention to move. But I love english language as much as my own, Russian, and I prefer to rely on myself in translation rather than on some translator (who often doesn’t have qualification or just makes mistakes because of nature of LocKits), and I against any territory restrictions (I love to have that freedom). And steam doesn’t allow and prosecute any way to avoid that kind of restrictions, so they can just block my account. At least EA honestly tells that you can purchase they games via proxy and they Ok with that. And I respect that. So no, steam is popular, my online friends there,, it has it’s exclusives, I can’t argue with that. But I try to support Origin and GOG. I loved steam around 2009/10, before New Vegas became first (or one of the first) game to have separate build and that kind of restrictions, so after that in my book, more power to Origin and GOG. Steam is abusing his power, it’s just some regions have it better than others. So it’s good to see something all the world can agree (this mods problem).

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            Aren’t regional restrictions in large part due to publishers? I know that price differences were a factor but I’m not sure where those came from and, like you said, they are increasingly becoming a non-issue. I’m pretty sure 1C was doing all sorts of weird stuff with how and where the games under their control could be sold.

            On the other hand at this point Valve/Steam probably has enough clout that if they really wanted they could push against region locking with considerable success.

            • DeadlyDark says:

              Yeah, I agree, I was a little too harsh on Valve. It is true that publishers certainly incourage it, and there are reasons for that. But Valve provides and developes too many instruments for abusing restrictions. Why unplayable regions? Why restrict and block accounts for using proxy? Valve has the position to change things for the best, I don’t think they should ror must. But I want for them not to build such innecessary obstacles. As I said, GOG is very transparent here, and Origin is surprisingly tolerant, so it isn’t unheard of.

              • Sleeping Dragon says:

                I do find the Origin turning a blind eye ironic, considering that circumventing region locking by use of proxy is, at best, a grey area and EA has a certain reputation regarding DRM…

                It is probably safe to say that we both agree we’d like to see a company with the ethics of GOG and resources of Steam. Too bad this is not going to happen as GOG’s ethics are a huge part of the reason why they don’t have the larger share of the market.

          • Zukhramm says:

            I’m not here to defend it or attack it or what but I think it’s weird complain about regional pricing in video games specifically. Everything we buy is priced differently in other places, it’s just easier for us to see it when it’s about digital products. And no, transportation costs don’t have much to do with it. “Everyone does it” is a bad defense but everyone really does do it.

  10. Da Mage says:

    I’m a long time time member of the Elder Scrolls modding community, going all the way back to Morrowind, however I moved into game dev a year after Skyrim came out rather then continue modding, but kept up with the community. This is the biggest mess I’ve ever seen in a community that was built on friendliness and sharing, there is outright fighting between various groups and members on the forums.

    Around the web the biggest concerns are that users feel like the publishers are just trying to ‘nickel and dime’ them again by getting through a community that used to be completely free. They also don’t see 25% as supporting the modder, many will pay for mods, but they want the bulk of the money to go to the modder not the publisher.

    In the modders scene people are concerned for the long term cooperation between mod users. Previously all knowledge was shared between modders, but if someone figures out a new way to do something in the game, then its now worth something and they may hoard it. The system also only really works for sole or pairs of modders, modding teams cannot earn enough, nor split it evenly without ruining friendships. It’s also the first time in my 9 years of contributing that I’ve seen infighting in the Bethesda Modding community, which is not a good sign.

    A paid system can work, but not this paid system. In my opinion modding is sort of the training ground for game dev where you learn how things work. By injecting money it stops being a training area and turns in a competitive business zone. This will not end well.

  11. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I always liked that PC Master Race poster.

    I’m a semi ironic member. I do take a certain amount of pride in gaming on my own home built rig. I don’t think you have to look down on console gamers (who clearly have different priorities) to take some pride in the investment you’ve put into your hobby.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You dont have to look down on the console peasants,yes,but why shouldnt you grace them with your mighty arian gaze?They deserve at least that scrap in the pits of hellish gaming they subject themselves to.Otherwise,they would be desperate 24/7,instead of just 23/6.

    • Disc says:

      I wasn’t even aware that being a non-ironic member was an option. Gaben is/was easy to like, but I never really got the vibe that people would generally take the whole “worship” or “PC Master Race” too seriously. For first, when it’s just people making and doing stuff like this, this, or this, I have at least personally having hard time seeing it as anything too serious. The latter I see most often thrown around just to take the piss out of console gamers in a lighthearted manner and not because they really believe them to be inferior.

  12. Henson says:

    Funny you should mention Frostfall…its creator has run into a bit of a kerfuffle with this whole paid mod thing, to the point where he’s been considering getting out of modding entirely.

    It does make me wonder how this will change the whole modding community and how the distribution and creation of mods will look like when Elder Scrolls VI comes out. Will there be that great support base in place? Do people buy Elder Scrolls games because they know there is a mod community to support these incomplete games?

    EDIT: Okay, so I didn’t realize that Chesko was also responsible for that fishing mod that was mentioned on the Diecast in detail, so let me just clean this egg off my face…

    • Alex says:

      “Do people buy Elder Scrolls games because they know there is a mod community to support these incomplete games?”

      Yes. Or rather, not “incomplete” necessarily, but a game straight out of the box is naturally not going to align precisely with what I want out of the game, and a game that lets me or someone else change that is a good thing. A game that supports mods is worth more to me than a game that does not support mods, and a game that encourages cooperation between modders to make their mods even better is worth more to me than one where I’m going to get nickel and dimed for every added feature.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        Morrowind set up a really high standard for modding, both in terms of what modders could do as well as the provided tools. I’m not sure how many people wouldn’t buy Skyrim if they didn’t expect mods but I know for many it was at the very least a factor in choosing the platform.

        If they released another single-player Elder Scrolls game wthout mod support at this point it would be a big disappointment for a large chunk of the community and I think the ES games played a large part in the insistence that certain titles, especially open world games, be moddable.

  13. For reference, I’ve released 3 albums commercially (which includes file hosting at one place and re-distribution at another) and the cut of the distributor was 15%.

    So the artist get 85% of the profits. Shareware download services also does around a 15% cut.

    If Valve had taken 15% and Bethesda 10% then that would leave the modder with 75% which would be palatable.

    • Thomas says:

      I don’t even think Valve should get to take a larger cut than Bethesda. The Skyrim modding tools didn’t appear out of thin air, Bethesda consciously chose to put the man hour into making Skyrim moddable. That’s not an insignificant design choice.

      For example if Pillars of Eternity were to be 100% moddable, Obsidian couldn’t have made the game look as beautiful as it does, because their process for making backgrounds is really complex.

      Valve are already getting a lot of value for money just because it ties people even more to Steam. This is yet another step towards a total steam monopoly, and Valve are taking a cut from everything they make. And it sounds like if the modders don’t make $100 they get paid in steam credit that they can only give back to Valve again.

      That’s welsh mining company control crud.

      • el_b says:

        like english factory towns that had their own currency seperate to the outside so no ones money had value in the rest of the country.they could only buy from their boss with their fake wages while they kept the real money for themselves.

      • Actually most games that are modable are not designed to be modable.
        The developers make it that way anyway, how else are they supposed to create the game content themselves.

        What does take time/resources is making the dev tools stable enough to release them into the wild. Most companies do not do that.

        Some games do add special modding support, usually to make it easier to add/enable a mod. (usually allowing you to copy a file into a mod folder and then enable/disable it in a launcher).

        Some games (in the past at least) has simple zip files as the game archives. (just with a different file extension)

        One exception though is the Homeworld Remake where the devs worked with at least one mod community programmer to add better “hooks” that modders could make use of.

        And I’ve mentioned this before but Egosoft even asked for mods for inclusion curated/worked with the modders and added many mods in a official update for their X games (they did this for the last two games IIRC) and it was free.

        Although some actually has messures (like file encryption) to prevent modding, which is just really silly if you ask me, modders will usually find a way to crack that encryption. (Or go to piraty parts of the net for a crack so that they can mod the games they bought).

      • Jexter says:

        Incidentally, this common sentiment – that Bethesda should be getting a larger cut than Valve – is part of the reason why Valve’s objection of “the publisher set the low rate for modders, not us!” falls so flat.

        By saying that they’re taking a 30% cut upfront, Valve encourages the publisher to take an even larger amount. Otherwise Valve would be making more money off of their own game than they are! So the publisher takes, say 40%, leaving less than a third for the modders who actually made the damn thing being sold.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I mentioned it below (stuck in moderation) but I should have said it here because it’s a more appropriate place.

      I make custom software for automation systems, which is a whole lot like modding (take equipment a, equipment b, and equipment c, make them all talk together, make them all function as specified by customer, and give them a custom GUI and database to facilitate the above). I know this because I have also started an aborted mod for Skyrim.

      Bare minimum, due to contractual obligation to our local government to charge $X minimum for our services, my company gets 30% of what they charge for my programming time. The rest goes to paying for my benefits, salaries, and wages. This is considered “low margin,” with more typical numbers being about 40-50%.

      Now, we deal with systems that cost anywhere from six to seven figures a piece to set up (of which five to six figures is actual programming) so there’s a lot of room to pad the margin. There’s more room for margin on a $1 million control system versus a $1 mod, especially when the guy doing the estimating can easily (and often) mistakenly estimate a $1.5 million job at $1 million, so you need the extra margin to cover the other jobs where the sales guy f-ed up. Still, 30% up-charge is not entirely unreasonable for a facilitator, it’s just a tad high for a product like mods, which won’t support the high prices creators would need to charge under that pricing model to get reasonable compensation. It’s high, but at least within spitting distance of reasonable.

      Bethesda wanting a 45% cut is criminal, and indicative of the bullshit, “we own the IP so we will strong-arm you into paying us” mentality that is endemic in large publishers. Bethesda is already reaping orders of magnitude more value from the mod community from good PR than they will ever get out of mod revenues, and they are the party that contributes the least input to the mod in question. Yet they are the ones demanding the highest share. At the very best, maybe they should get 10%, more like 5% or nothing. Nearly half is absurd.

  14. Galad says:

    I was worried you were not going to cover that. Good to see my worries have been completely misplaced. Will listen to the podcast later.

  15. Another issue that will appear if mod prices are set too high. Mod piracy will be a thing soon.

  16. Wide and Nerdy says:

    Comment redacted. Sorry.

  17. Here’s some interesting trivia.
    Egosoft (guys behind the X series of games) actually created a free patch/upgrade for their last two games that included mods and scripts the community had made.
    So it the mods became part of the official update. Which is a awesome idea.

    Clarification, IIRC mods/scripts was submitted and curated specifically for inclusion (and compatibility tested with the patch).

    • Humanoid says:

      The Civ2 expansions – Conflict in Civilization and Fantastic Worlds – both included a bunch of “best of the Internet” fan-made scenarios. And that was before *I* had Internet.

    • RTBones says:

      The fact that X3AP is as friendly to mods as it is has also given it an extended life. The latest mod that seems to be running wild is Litcube’s Universe – which is so big and changes so much it almost makes it X4. It took Litcube approximately 7 years to make. And it is well done. There are other mods that are big and well done, of course, LU is just the latest.

      While I may have my issues with Egosoft, they are quite supportive of the mod community.

  18. @Shamus regarding tip jar etc.
    A PayPal donation button is very easy to set up and PayPal only takes what 2-3% ?

    Which shows how scewed the Valve/Bethesda cut really is.

  19. Off topic (besides being game related) but:

    <troll>
    http://kotaku.com/looks-like-batman-wont-be-fighting-alone-in-arkham-knig-1700365197

    Is it just me or does the guy on the left in the black/blue kind of look like Mass Effect’s Kai Leng?
    </troll>

  20. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Sharing a thought that I’ve since heard from Totalbiscuit. I think this could have worked on a game where modding could be seen as an added feature.

    Like what if Saints Row 5 launched with a mod shop and a robust modding toolset? That would be seen as an improvement over Saints Row 4. With Skyrim, you’re taking a mountain of free content and jeopardizing access to it.

    Point is, I do think there was a way this could have been done right (and not with a donate button though I’d support donate as one option for monetizing) and I think there’s huge potential gain for doing it right. It could change the industry for the better.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You are giving pretty bad advice actually.These arent sony and microsoft who are at each others throats and aim to slander each other,these two have to work together.Going behind each others backs just to gain some small good will from customers would ruin their standing with the other company,and that is terrible for either of them.

  22. Ilseroth says:

    Rutskarn’s Book

    I don’t know if anyone else linked it, i did a quick overlook, but this is the page for Rutskarn’s book.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So I have a beef with anyone who is saying how 25% is “outrageously small cut for the mods”.And to best illustrate why,a car analogy:

    If you want to mod a car,first you have to buy the car,giving money to that one company.Then you have to buy,or more often rent a garage,giving money to another company.Then you have to buy all the custom parts,rims,spoilers,paint,neon sticks,gears,engines,….giving money to a bunch of other people.Then you need to buy all the tools to fit all these together,or even make them yourself,giving money to another bunch of people.In the end,your cut of the sale of such a car is minuscule compared to all that investment,so you have to mod a bunch of cars in order to just break even.

    Now imagine if all those stuff listed were provided for you just by mercedes and bmw.One would give you the car,the extra parts and the tools,the other would give you a fully outfitted garage and free advertisement all around it.And in return they asked you to merely give them a cut of your profits.Say 75% of all your profits.Would that really be outrages for them to ask you to give them such chump change for them and a huge cut for you just because they are two companies instead of dozens of them?

    So all of you saying how valve and bethesda are too greedy are just as entitled as those people saying how modders shouldnt charge for their work.You completely lack the perspective on just how much stuff the two companies are giving the modders.

    • Alex says:

      Your analogy doesn’t make sense. Every single one of the items you listed is a resource where you using it prevents anyone else using it, either temporarily (the tools and garage) or permanently (the parts you’re putting into the car). That just doesn’t exist in games development. The only finite resource is the computer – something that you paid for. You bolting your assets onto their software using a copy of a program they’d already written years earlier does absolutely nothing to interfere with Bethesda’s capability to use their own property.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Neither is the product you make a finite resource which you can sell only once.So yes,they loose nothing,but neither do you.You have invested your time and money to make this,but so have they.

        And you arent correct that only your computer is the finite resource.So are all of their machines,and most importantly,the bandwidth.

        • Time is a finite resource (due to human lifespan), money is also a finite resource (otherwise there’d be rampant inflation).

          And 25% is outrageous. A music reseller I have used only took 15%, various shareware re-sellers (with download services) take only around 15%.

          Also bare in mind that while Valve might take a 15% cut and I’d have no issue with that, they are taking twice that.
          And not only that Bethesda is taking, what 45%?
          But what are those 45% for? To cover the cost for the modding tools? Those modding tools are provided with the game.

          If Bethesda really wanted to cover the cost they should have sold the modding tools as a addon.

          And why aren’t they charging those who give away mods for free a fee for using the mod tools? Because people would be pissed if that happen.

          Your car analogy is also wrong. Try seeing it as modifying a car and then selling it.
          If you want to modify your car and then sell it then you do not need to pay the car manufacturer 40% of the sale.
          Now if you use a reseller to sell the car ten you might be a bit upset if they took 30%.

          Also note that some of these mods are 100% original creations.

          Take Rutskarn’s book as an example. What part of that does Valve deserve a 30% cut for? What part does Bethesda deserve a 45% cut for?

          In this case Valve taking max 15% and Bethesda taking 5% would seem more fair.

          Only the most greedy publisher contract try to get away by screwing over the artist by taking more than a 50% cut.

          Heck even Youtube wouldn’t dare try to take more than a 50% cut.

          Even worse is how greedy some modders get now that money is dangling in front of their faces.

          End result is that not only will they charge too much, but due to the low percentage they get they’ll charge even more than they would otherwise.
          When small mods end up costing more than the game itself something is seriously messed up.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Because people would be pissed if that happen.

            Lets be frank,people would be pissed no matter what.Because people hate change.

            If Bethesda really wanted to cover the cost they should have sold the modding tools as a addon.

            Yes,they couldve.But they chose to give them for free to anyone who doesnt want to profit from them.And they get flak for it.Because people are ungrateful.

            Try seeing it as modifying a car and then selling it.

            Thats exactly what my example does.And you conveniently fail to take account of everything other than car required for your mod to work.If those were sold to you by the car manufacturer,they sure would charge you for that as well,in some cases more than for the car itself.

            Take Rutskarn’s book as an example. What part of that does Valve deserve a 30% cut for?

            The promotion,servers,way to transfer money,the deal struck with bethesda on his behalf,etc,etc.

            What part does Bethesda deserve a 45% cut for?

            The assets and tools he used to import it into the game.Also the whole foundation of that story he based the book on.

            Also note that some of these mods are 100% original creations.

            The fact that they are mods for an existing thing means that they can never be 100% original creations.

            Heck even Youtube wouldn’t dare try to take more than a 50% cut.

            Youtube is analogous to valve here,not bethesda.What is analogous to bethesda when youtube stuff is examined is the recording software and equipment,which is quite expensive,and often comes with a subscription fee(in the case of quality videos that is,not your run of the mill trash).

            Even worse is how greedy some modders get now that money is dangling in front of their faces.

            Those people were greedy before.The difference is that now they have legitimate place to satisfy their greed.

            • The assets and tools he used to import it into the game.Also the whole foundation of that story he based the book on.
              You don’t get it do you. It’s the player that use and import the mod.

              But consider this then….

              I make a music track. It’s all original. I make it available as a mod for Skyrim. (not much of a mod, just a music file that get plopped into a folder by Steam).

              Valve runs of with 30% and Bethesda with 45% ? WTF.

              You are also doing the same blurb as other do about Bethesda having to be compensated for their mod tools.
              Thing is, the mod tools existed before this whole mess.

              Also “recording software and equipment” what are you talking about?
              Audacity is free, do you mean Youtube takes a cut of that? Youtube provides zero software or equipment for recording.

              Another thing that is a mess is that some people are saying that the content creators do not have the copyright to the mods but Bethesda does (apparently there is some text in the EULA about that).
              (ignoring the whole issue of the EULA not being truly legally binding in most courts around the world)
              That is just messed up, but people like to use that as justification for Bethesda taking such a cut.

              Bethesda is just taking a 45% cut for the use of the word “Skyrim” in the title of the mod.
              Bethesda won’t be doing any marketing.
              Are they planning to improve the modding tools with the money they earn on this? I doubt it.
              Are Bethesda going to provide the source code for Skyrim so modders can make better mods? I doubt it.

              I read others justifying Valves 30% cut by saying it’s the same as the cut they take for other stuff sold via Steam.
              Yeah but at least customers get some support on that. If you got issues with a mod neither Bethesda (with their 45% cut) nor Valve (with their 30% cut) will help, they’ll point you to the mod maker instead.

              And other than being listed on steam, it is the mod makers that will have to market ad promote their mods. Neither Valve nor Bethesda will advertise mods around the net.

              And for the record, I don’t hate change. I think the idea is great but it’s so greedy/corrupt and messed up that this shut be turned off and re-thinked.

        • Groboclown says:

          Here we go again, with the pricing discussion.

          On a very simple level, there are three different approaches to pricing:

          1. Cost-based pricing. How much does it cost to make the item? Usually, there’s a markup on top of the cost. This is a simple, yet really bad method to set prices.

          2. Replacement pricing. Similar to cost-based pricing, but now you need to ask how much does it cost to replace the item you just sold? Useful for selling oil – you’re not selling it for the price of oil when you drilled it, but for when you sold it. This can also apply to software – using the previous product to pay for the creation of the next product.

          3. Demand-based pricing. What is the consumer willing to spend? This is much harder to calculate, but ends up making much more money for the producer. It doesn’t matter that it only costs you $1 to make that cheap piece of plastic if everyone wants it and you have intellectual property rights preventing others from making it.

    • Domochevsky says:

      That’s a terrible comparison, as with most car analogies.

      25% is an outrageously low cut. With that I don’t feel like I’m giving the mod author his due. I’m feeling like I pay Bethesda/Valve some more and the author MAYBE gets a small cut of that.

      The mod author paid for the game/car, the mod user paid for the game/car. Why is Bethesda involved in anything beyond that at all? With 45% no less?

      The mod maker works out of their own garage with their own tools, that they lended from friends or are publically available or juts plain made by themselves.
      Then they give the mod/car tuning they made to whoever wants the mod.

      Valve may get a cut for shipping the parts to the customer and handling the transaction formalities, which is fine.
      But Bethesda? What did they do, apart from making the initial game/car that happens to be moddable?

      Car analogies suck.

      Also, did anyone keep track of how often the world “entitled” falls in conversations like this? It seems abnormally high.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Compare bethesda games to some mod unfriendly game then.A game where all the assets are locked somewhere deep in the code.Or worse,as is the case with mmos,not even on your computer.Those are the tools bethesda gives the moders to work with.They arent the best,sure(some other games offer even better stuff),but they are way better than most.Those arent publicly available,nor do they belong to the moders.They all belong to bethesda.Why shouldnt they charge for those?Would you rather they charge extra for every copy of their game,or just take a cut from whoever profits from it?

        And thats not even going into the legal stuff of it.All just from the mechanical point.

        Also, did anyone keep track of how often the world “entitled” falls in conversations like this? It seems abnormally high.

        Ill be the first to admit that I feel entitled about the word entitled.

        • Domochevsky says:

          If we stick to car analogies then this is more akin to Bethesda making a car that is build in a way that makes it easy to pimp it. Better rims, spoilers front and back, no roof… the car is build in a way that makes it easy. But that still doesn’t entitle (Ha! That sword cuts both ways!) them to your work, your tools, your garage and your time.

        • Ivan says:

          I don’t buy that though, I have no numbers but from the way I hear people talk, there are plenty who would have given this game a pass if it didn’t have mod support. I don’t believe Bethesda added mod support out of the goodness of their hearts. Bethesda added mod support because they thought it would cost them money if they didn’t.

          Besides, they’re not charging for using the tools anyway, they’re charging for selling the mod, and up until now I haven’t heard of any other attempts to monetize it. If they really thought of mod support as something extra then I really would have expected some other attempt before now to get some money out of it.

          *edit* Oh hey! My first comment awaiting moderation. You know, I wonder if the spam-bot filter is lonely. I mean I sure would be if all I had to talk to all day were spam-bots.

      • M. says:

        The word “entitled” is one of those terms that’s been abused so much that it’s no longer useful in legitimate debate. Too many people use it as an automatic way to dismiss others’ concerns, when they should be presenting counterarguments instead.

    • JakeyKakey says:

      Problem here is, Bethesda releases Skyrim with a shitty broken UI and shallow broken gameplay, SkyUI fixes/enhances Bethasda’s broken game and does a large chunk of B’s job for them and Bethesda still gets to double-dip into half of the SkyUI profits. And Valve just sits in the corner taking another third of the profits while being completely useless.

      This is more like BMW and eBay wanting a 75% cut from me selling a worn down old BMW I then proceeded to fix up myself, PimpMyRide style.

      Bethesda has already indirectly made millions thanks to the very existence of the modding community. There’s nothing short of greedy about this.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Problem here is, Bethesda releases Skyrim with a shitty broken UI and shallow broken gameplay,
        .
        .
        .

        That is a separate issue that Ive mentioned in the second comment.Also,the overall problem of quality control with valve.

        This is more like BMW and eBay wanting a 75% cut from me selling a worn down old BMW I then proceeded to fix up myself, PimpMyRide style

        With what tools(skyrim assets)?With what spare parts(skyrim code)?All of those youd have to get from somewhere,here you get them from the same guy who gave you the crappy car you pimped.

        And Valve just sits in the corner taking another third of the profits while being completely useless.

        Right,because advertising you,giving you bandwidth required to store and sell your stuff,making this deal on your behalf that bethesda is by no means legally obligated to accept,….all that means being completely useless.

        Look,there are a bunch of problems with this deal,and how steam approaches plenty of stuff.But they are most definitely not useless,not in this,not in plenty of other things.

        Bethesda has already indirectly made millions thanks to the very existence of the modding community. There’s nothing short of greedy about this.

        Debatable.Yes mods have definitely sold some copies,but how much is actually very hard to pinpoint.

        • Alex says:

          “With what tools(skyrim assets)?With what spare parts(skyrim code)?All of those youd have to get from somewhere,here you get them from the same guy who gave you the crappy car you pimped.”

          You still don’t get it. You don’t get the assets and/or code in a mod from anywhere, you build them yourself. If you machine a new part for your BMW, BMW doesn’t deserve a cut just because they built the car you want to attach it to.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            If you machine a new part for your BMW, BMW doesn’t deserve a cut just because they built the car you want to attach it to.

            If you think you can machine a new part from thin air,its you who dont get it.You have to buy the materials from someone,and you have to buy the tools to machine the materials from someone.If bmw sold those as well as cars,they would definitely deserve the cut from those as well.They dont get the cut from car modders because someone else provides equipment for modding.

            • You don’t get it at all.

              With digital you can create something from nothing.
              Be it music, audio, voice, images, text. None of it need to be based on or derivative of anything in Skyrim.

              You like to throw around words like “assets” and “code”.
              But many of the mods do not use nor are based on the assets of Skyrim at all, nor the code.

              People create texture in Photoshop or Paint .net, audio in Audition or Audacity, text in Notepad or Notepad++ or OpenOffice.

              Sure there are probably modders that use existing textures for a skyrim mod but that texture could be from a Public Domain or Creative Commons clipart archive.
              What copyright claim does Bethesda have on that? None. So they have no right to monetize on that.

              Now if somebody took a Bethesda Skyrim texture or model and changed hat say 50% then I’d see no issue with Bethesda getting 50% of the profits on that. But that is not what is happening here.

              BTW! Regarding your car analogy, you can buy a lump of aluminum from a metal works/meltery and fabricate the parts you need using a CNC or similar.
              The car manufacturer does not sell you the metal.

              A game mod is at times the same as hand carving a wooden steering wheel, and then replacing the steering wheel in your car. Why should the car manufacturer get a cut of that? They provided nothing at all to the making of the mod.

              • jawlz says:

                I think you’re missing the right analogy here. Skyrim comes with tools (the ‘construction kit’ or ‘creation kit’ or whatever its called these days) that help you to modify it, and to put your mods and content into it. Under almost all scenarios we’re talking about, those tools are being used to make the mods and import them into the game.

                Those tools take some time to make, and they weren’t just developed whole-cloth outside of Bethesda, so your ‘make a wooden steering wheel on my own and replace my car’s steering wheel with it’ doesn’t really work.

                Now, that said, I think it’s probably unwise for Bethsoft to try to turn these tools into a revenue-generator, inasmuch as I think it’s going to harm the modding scene in a larger way, and the modding scene (which is supported by Bethesda’s tools!) has benefited Bethesda a great deal, and kept their games being talked about and bought long after other non-modded games have stopped generating significant sales.

                • So you are saying that if Bethesda’s tools “zip” up my music file they should get a 45% cut?

                  The wooden steering wheel is my music.
                  I did not use Bethesda’s tools to make the music, nor did I use any of the existing Skyrim audio/sound/music at all so there is no derivative work at all.

                  Look further down in these comments for a suggestion I made on a sliding percentage scale that Bethesda could use instead of a blanket 45%

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                Those mods are still worthless without the game. The game is not worthless without the mods.

                • Dev Chand says:

                  Well, Bethesda’s games are worthless without atleast a few mods. :P

                • Ayegill says:

                  It’s definitely worth a lot less. I mean, I know I’d still have bought it(I was way too hyped back in 2011), but I don’t know that I would have been happy about it if SkyUI hadn’t existed.

                • Sall Manser says:

                  Absolutely, 100% wrong. Have you ever seen Millenia weapons for Fallout New Vegas? There is not a single digital bit of Bethesda property in them and they are actually made FOR ANOTHER GAME. And installing them just means copying to proper folders. Anyone trying to take money for this other than the modder and we are talking about legalized theft.

      • Adam says:

        The problem then seems to be that indispensable mods that make the game a little bit more ideal for some users and mods that make the game playable are/were being subjected to the same model. Use our mod tools to make a fun adventure? We get a slice. Fix our broken, buggy game? We still get a slice, even though you’re doing the job our QA department couldn’t. I can’t see a way to weed out the absolute necessities from the ones that don’t do anything. (especially on Steam, where they don’t seem to have a quality control team so much as a lack-of-quality control team.)

    • Raygereio says:

      The obvious counter-argument to why Bethesda deserves a cut is: They already got one when the modder and mod-user bought the game.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So a company that sells you a product doesnt deserve a cut for selling you accessories?

        • Raygereio says:

          For the record: I don’t quite agree with viewing a mod as a “accessory”, but I’m too tired to have an Internet-slapfight over it.

          Bethesda is not the one selling it. The modder using Valve’s infrastructure is.
          Nor did Bethesda make the accessory. The modder did.

          Edit:
          I suppose you could dive headfirst into the Intellectual Property argument and it’s true that when you create work in someone else’s IP, you need to give the right’s holder a massive chunk of the profit.
          For example if you’re a Star Wars author, I think you walk away with something like 15%.
          The obvious counter-argument against that is that instead of arguing that everything needs to be brought down to your level, you ought to be arguing for having your level be raised. But this is not really place for that particular discussion.

          • But a book is standalone.

            It’s not like each mod is bundling Skyrim with it. If that was the case I’d understand it.

            A mod is like a few pages extra for an existing Star Wars book, at most.

            • Ranneko says:

              I think the analogy that Bethesda were using for mods is fanfiction.

              They literally referenced Kindle Worlds, i.e. Amazon’s licenced fanfiction as influencing their decision making in how they set their cut.

              You can read about it on their blog

              • Kindle Worlds?

                But, it’s not Bethesda that is selling…

                Ah. I see. Bethesda put themselves in the publisher role for the mods (with Valve as a distributor).
                Problem is that other than the money part they take no responsibility for the mods (unlike what they’d have to do for a game they publish).

                The existing publishing model really can’t work for mods.

                Also, the cut that Amazon takes is also damn high. Shamus complained about Amazon in regards to his book some time ago where Amazon is greedy as a publisher/distributor, and his book was not really fanfiction.

        • Matt Downie says:

          If they want to sell me tools, fine.

          If they manufacture a car with faulty steering, and I find a way to fix it, should they get a cut of my income?

  24. Adam Phant says:

    Something that really irks me about this debacle is the number of people saying a donation system is the way to go. I’ve been talking with modders, mostly artists, who put their mods up on nexusmods and included a donation link. (nexusmods lets modders include donation links.)

    Modders never recieved a single penny from donations.

    It would be great if people clamoring for a donation system would disclose how much they’ve donated to modders in the past. Separate the “I just want this for free without outright saying it” chaff from the “I actually put my money where my mouth is” wheat.

    It’s also been kinda funny seeing users discredit the 25% cut. “It’s an injustice,” they’ll proclaim. Not realizing that 25% of something is substantially more money than 100% of nothing.

    • With a donate button they’d get 100% (minus the paypal fee).

      • ehlijen says:

        The point, I think, is that with a donate button instead of a price for the mod, there would be nothing given to get that 100% cut from.

        And I agree, the tip jar approach would see the modders get very little, if anything because almost no one would use it.

        But putting mods behind paywalls isn’t really a good solution, green-light/early access and the appstore shovelware mess should have shown that (I bet you I can find at least 10 copyright infringing themed ‘Memory’ ripoffs for sale on the MS appstore on any given day).

        The ‘can’t cash out till $100 and we have your bank account details’ is an effective way to stop some of the problems, but it introduces the above mentioned mining town abuse (we’re not paying you real money, we pay you in GaBucks).

        Here’s a thought, if you’re paid for your mods in GaBucks and can buy other mods with it, is it possible to create a sort of circle of rip-offs that finances your mod needs with no money to valve/Bethesda ever entering the system out of your pocket?

        I’m not against good modders getting payed for their efforts. But putting this system into place before they fixed their existing problems that they knew this new feature would inherit was courting disaster.

        As for the GabeN cult, I hate to go Godwyn (or however you spell it) for I realise this does not compare in magnitude, but much of my time in school was devoted into understanding why following cult of personality too far was a bad idea, especially once the term ‘master race’ enters the mix.
        Steam has always been about taking control away from the end user. In some areas that’s understandable (DRM), in others less so but the DRM aspect requires it (holding patches hostage). I’ve never liked it and I’ve never trusted Valve to care about my interests (though they are the best at lying to me about that last part at the moment).

        There is a reason my usual approach is to buy a game, toss the disk case unopened into my pile and to get a cracked copy I can play without ever logging on to steam (well, two reasons. The other is that I like turning off my modem and anti-virus while playing to improve loading speeds), even though that means I’ll rarely get patches or mods that depend on those patches.

        • Also remember that you need to earn $400 before they pay out $100 (25%).
          And while you wait Valve earns on the interest of your money as it sits in Valve’s bank account.
          Same thing if a customer asks for a refund within 24hrs, the money ends up in the Valve Wallet (aka bank account) where Valve earn interest.

        • Ivan says:

          Edit 1: I think I derped and misunderstood you, I was going to delete the resulting paragraph but I’ll add this disclaimer instead.

          Edit 2: Wow, quotation marks have an interesting effect on spoiler tags.

          I feel like you’re missing something…

          “Here’s a thought, if you’re paid for your mods in GaBucks and can buy other mods with it, is it possible to create a sort of circle of rip-offs that finances your mod needs with no money to valve/Bethesda ever entering the system out of your pocket?”

          From what I understand the answer is very clearly “no” because you going to louse 75% of the money that you put into any given step. To illistrate this a little more clearly, if you wanted to cash out (at the $100 min) but only had $90, you could not buy one of your own mods fot $10 and cash out, that would only get you $2.50. You would need to spend $40 in order to cash out and $30 of that goes to Bethesda and Valve.

          25% is definitely more than nothing but this isn’t some gift. 25% is insulting, 25% implies that this is the amount of effort that you put into getting this “group project” to the store. Yeah, a group project with your “partners” Valve and Bethesda. Valve deserves some cut for hosting the mods and workshop and facilitating all that stuff (though I think 30% is far too high), and I think that maybe they gave Bethesda a blank check as a sort of “what will it cost to avoid any lawsuits” kinda olive branch, but the end result is just incredibly insulting to a community who up until now has been doing this for free. To clarify, it is insulting in a “this is what your work is worth to us” sort of way.

          Hell, *I’m* insulted and I’ve never made a single mod in my life. That said, I would continue to give my mods out for free just to spite those greedy misers (if that’s worth anything to you). I mean obviously I wasn’t doing it for money before so why start now if they’re going to offer such a raw deal?

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I don’t want the modder to get 100%. There work is built with Bethesda’s tools and assets and is hosted by Valve. The 75% they’re asking for now might be high but they deserve a good chunk of it.

        If they want to build their own game and host it themselves, then I’ll give them 100%.

        • I as I said in a comment above.
          If I make a piece of music that is all original then I did not use Bethesda’s tools nor their assets.
          Look further down for a suggestion on a sliding percentage scale rather than a blanket 45% cut.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I didn’t find the sliding chart (and don’t have time right now) but I do see some of your other numbers. I do agree that the 30 and the 45 are high.

            However a lot of times I see people complain because they tally up the raw costs and think it doesn’t add up.

            But lets say a company has two products, there are development and manufacturing costs on both. One is wildly successful and the other fails. If you’re selling everything at just above production cost, the company loses money. And some people may be fine with that, they just want their prices kept down but that leaves the company with no margin for risk on new products or for potential liability issues. So they have to play super safe and we’ve already seen that we don’t like it when the gaming industry plays super safe.

            Particularly with a group of geniuses like Valve, I want them to feel like they can afford to fail on occasion so that they actually try things.

            But I have no idea how the numbers add up for that. I just want to fight the notion that everything should be sold at cost, because I want what the future holds.

            • I never posted a chart. And I said “a sliding scale”.

              I have no issue with Valve taking a cut. I suggested 15% for mods (since Vale takes 30% for full games AFAIK).

              I have no issue with Bethesda of taking a cut if they add something to the process/mod.

              In my example where a modder takes s Skyrim armor texture and changes the hue I think Bethesda should take almost all the money the modder gets leaving then just a tinny bit of percentage.

              But in my hypothetical, if I made a music track, then none of Bethesda’s work nor tools are used at all. And they should at most get the other side of the sliding scale and only get a tiny percentage.

              Some argued that in the industry developers only get 15%. In my opinion that is way too little.
              Heck Obsidian got nothing for Fallout New Vegas due to the metacritic score being too low, think about that.

              “If you’re selling everything at just above production cost, the company loses money”

              Then that company has somebody steeling money.
              If you sell something at production cost or slightly above production cost then you stay afloat out of the red.
              If you are actually making a profit but still loosing money, somebody is steeling company money/funds, look for the guy in the parking lot with the gold Mercedes.

              Whenever you see “SALE” in stores or “ONLY 9.99” and stuff like that, the store is still making money.
              Nobody sells anything at a loss. Except if keeping things in a storage house costs so much that it’s just cheaper dumping the goods at cost or below cost.

              Digital does not have a storage issue (relatively speaking).
              And Bethesda will not act as a Publisher (they won’t market a mod and place ads on TV for it etc. or in newspapers)
              Bethesda wean ted cash for doing nothing.

              You might say that i’s their IP, but this is only true if Bethesda’s own assets are re-used in a mod.
              But many of the mods contains no IP of Bethesda.

              You might argue “but tools Bethesda made?” those tools was budget into the production of the game in the first place.

              Now if Bethesda decides to continue improving those tools and providing updates, and listening to feedback and tweaking the game in future updates to help make mods run better or to make the game even more modable then I’d say Bethesda has a good reason to get some cash back for that.
              But they are not going to do that. As Shamus pointed out Bethesda has yet to fix the issues that the unofficial patch fixes.
              And these are not fixes for mods, these are fixes for the original unmodified game.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                Thats not true at all. If I spend twenty million producing a game and I run my ship tightly and efficiently and try to make every dollar count but misjudge what the public wants out of my game, I might still for some reason or another only sell 100,000 copies, which at 60 bucks is only recouping a third of my budget. I could drop the price in the digital store to 10 bucks and hope another 1.4 million customers buy my game so I at least break even (and this is not accounting for hosting and transaction fees but I’m trying to keep it simple) but otherwise, I’ve taken a loss. So I have to make sure one of my other games not just covers its development and production costs but also covers the loss on my previous game, or I have to have a surplus in the first place to make the riskier game.

          • Ranneko says:

            If you are making a mod to add that music to the game, you are explicitly taking advantage of Skyrim to do so, and thus benefiting from Bethesda’s work.

            Even without using any of their assets, you are using Skyrim’s popularity and position in the marketplace to promote your work.

      • Adam Phant says:

        Theoretically, yes, donations would allow modders to get 100% of the cut. However, nobody donates. 100% of nothing is still nothing. At least with a paywall they’re getting something.

    • Galad says:

      Someone mentioned on reddit that the nexusmods site is cluttered and it took him an year to find out (!) there is a donation button there.

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive split my comment in two in order to not give everyone reading a whiplash,so heres the second part:

    With all Ive said above in favor of steam and bethesda,I do think this thing is currently a big stinking pile of shit.Not because of the pricing,but because of the lack of proper structure,rules for protecting ones rights,lack of proper support and rules for said support,proper refund channels(24 hours?Please,some people need that long just to download this stuff),proper dependency linking,negotiation potential(a stand alone big boob mod doesnt deserve as much as a huge skyrim ui mod),etc,etc,etc.

    This is quickly turning into a bloated monster the likes of youtube and its monetization thing,when it had the potential to at least lay good foundation for the thing to grow.Which saddens me greatly.

    • Valve and Bethesda got greedy.

      Epic (Unreal Engine) and Crytek (Cryengine) takes a cut way less than what Valve and Bethesda is taking.
      And they also give you the full source code to the entire game engine in the process.
      Bethesda and Valve overreached severely here.

    • Ivan says:

      Oh yeah, I absolutely agree. All these issues that crop up as soon as you put a price tag on any of this are just killer. The idea that this would “sort it’s self out” just shows how very little they thought this through.

  26. straymute says:

    I can kind of get why people don’t think a modder should be paid just because modding was kind of the amateur level of game development, like if game development was a sport modding would be friendly leagues and pick-up games. Money changes things, there’s a certain atmosphere that comes about when people are only doing something out personal passion and I don’t blame communities for not wanting to lose that.

    For example in the Arma community there was recently a large contest with a big cash prize and during the duration of the contest things changed a lot. People were hiding their projects and fearful their ideas would get stolen, there was much less cooperation and a general unease with people getting each others mods disqualified. The game’s most popular mod(ACE3) couldn’t really be put into full development until the contest ended and two competing teams merged together.

    So a lot of people felt the negative effects of this contest, but only a handful of people who won the contest actually got anything positive out of it.

  27. Speaking of mods:

    GTA V native trainer

    Also note at around 0:50 mark. Anything that makes a flying humpback whale possible is A OK in my book. (where else but in mods would you see that besides in a HHGTG game?)

    • Ivan says:

      You know, I thought that all I needed to hear was someone say was “Yes someone made a carmageddon mod for GTA V too” and I would get the game. But now I want nothing more than to play through the entire game as a chimpanzee (and I really had no intention of playing the story mode). Please tell me that that trainer works just as well in online multiplayer, because that would be beautiful.

      In other news. Wow I’m really pitching a no hitter against this spam filter. That’s 4 comments in a row.

  28. Zephyr1990 says:

    Also there is the fact that if you use your credit card you can only get a refund on the Steam Wallet… that seems like a bad thing

  29. HeroOfHyla says:

    Here’s how I see it:
    You should always be absolutely free to write, and (if you want) charge for any program you write. You should be perfectly free to make it depend on another program/engine/library/toolkit/game/etc. Unless you are actually redistributing the program/engine/library/toolkit/game/etc. that you are depending on, the writer of that p/e/l/t/g/e. has absolutely no right to a cut of your profit or to dictate the terms/licensing of distribution.

    Now I don’t know how the architecture of a skyrim mod works, but it seems to me that if you just redistribute the changes you’ve made, and don’t redistribute any game assets or stuff like that (and there should be no need to, since the mod requires the game to run anyway), Bethesda should have absolutely no rights to a cut.

    • If it’s all original work, then per copyright laws (in pretty much all nations) state that the content creator holds all copyright. Bethesda has no claim on it.

      Now if you made a Skyrim amour then it’s use outside Skyrim is probably limited though.

      One might try to justify that Bethesda has rights to the proprietary format they use (is it really proprietary?)
      But it’s also possibly for a mod to simply be a .png image or a .ogg audio file or a .txt file.
      And not only that, a mod need not use the name Skyrim nor any Skyrim related words at all in it’s tile or otherwise.
      In that case Bethesda has no claim on compensation for anything, at all.

      I’d like to see Mr. Daemian Lucifer try to defend Bethesda for taking a 45% cut for simply tagging a mod on Steam with the “skyrim” tag.

  30. TMC_Sherpa says:

    The question I have is did Valve go to BethSoft or was it the other way around?

    Is this horse armor mk2?
    Is this a trial run using Skyrim so Bethesda can test the water before TES VI comes out? I mean I’m not sure how much money their online game cost them but I’m pretty sure they would cash that $100 check…

    If they can get the ground work in place, the kinks worked out and people used to paying for mods on a game they aren’t betting the company on… maybe the next one works this way out of the box? Or everyone hates it and they do things the way they have done in the past which won’t sink (maybe? Folks have selectively long memories) TES: Elswyer

    • Is this a trial run using Skyrim so Bethesda can test the water before TES VI comes out?

      Oh gawd you mean like microtransactions only for user created mods?

      So a user buys the game, installs it and when starting it up this huge list of mods are shown that enhance the game, with Valve and Bethesda taking a 75% cut. And if there are like houndreds of these all with 5 stars or whatnot, what is a new gamer going to do?

      They’ll end up buying the game five times over before even having played it.

      I like the idea of making it easy for gamers to get mods and to reward good mod makers for that work and encourage future work.

      But the way this mess looks like right now, something took a horrible turn someplace down the road.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Beat me to it. This post also officially confirms the 30% Valve, 45% Bethesda, 25% Modder split.

        I think if Bethesda wants its 45 percent, it needs to provide active support to modders and customers of mods (within reason).

      • TMC_Sherpa says:

        Aaaaaand the project is dead. Thanks for the link although I get more and more concerned every year with how far down I have to scroll on those birthday thingys.

        I play TES games like I suppose most people do, as a framework to hang mods on so I’m glad Bethesda called that off however there needs to be a better way to get money to modders than having them stick a PayPal link in their menu. Oh… that’s KSP mods I’m thinking of.

        BTW KSP is officially version 1.0 today woot!

        Edit: Almost forgot.

        Someone has to be looking at the Valve hat market and think “I gotta get me some of that” so while this particular event is over I have to imagine someone else will try and pick up that banner.

    • Ivan says:

      Wait are there any plans for a new Elder Scrolls game? I kinda figured they were pulling a Blizzard and saying “No guys, really! ES Online IS the Elder Scrolls now!”

  31. RyanMakesGames says:

    I feel like Steam has given fire to the modders, and some of them are using it to heat their homes and cook their food, while others are just burning themselves to death.

    While I don’t want anyone to get burned by this while thing, I’m still excited by the prospects of warm homes and cooked food.

  32. I just noticed something that might explain a lot of things:
    http://i.imgur.com/uFyiURh.png

    No wonder why HL3 is taking so long, or why the “Game of Thrones” books are taking so long.
    Your fooling nobody Mr. Gabe/George RR. Newell Martin

    • ehlijen says:

      Little known fact, Gorden Freeman is in every scene of the books, jumping on furniture in the background and tossing stuff into people’s faces with the gravity gun (or my favourite, putting the little potted cactus on the couch where he knows Alyx is scripted to sit down), but because he doesn’t speak he isn’t mentioned.

  33. hborrgg says:

    The people who put paid mods on steam actually receive cash from steam for their mods right? Not just store credit?

  34. Henson says:

    So I have a question that may be related to the ‘Bethesda gets a cut of profits’ issue: when a person releases a game made with a game engine – say, RPG maker for To the Moon – do the owners of that game engine get a cut of the profits from the sale of that game? If they do, do we know what percentage that might be?

    I realize this is messier since people are selling modifications to an existing game rather than a stand-alone product, but it is similar since the mod is based on Bethesda engine infrastructure that needed to be purchased before use.

    • Epic takes a 5% cut from games made with Unreal Engine 4. (if I recall correctly)
      They in return give you full source come to the engine and any assets and tools that come with it.

      The comparison is a tad skewed as people are not making a game with the Skyrim engine.
      They are making addons or mini-expansions.

      Epic did a brilliant move with Unreal Engine 4. And if I make a 1st person/2rd person game I’ll most likely use Unreal because of it. (or possibly Unity not sure yet, I’m leaning towards Unreal)

      And as for Valve and distribution.
      Share-It (a Digital River company) will host and sell your software for less than a 10% cut.

      And Paypal takes around 3%.

      So that’s 5%+8.9%+2.5%= less than 17%, leaving the developer/content creator with 83% of the money.
      And if you have your own/other form of file hosting then you can avoid the 8.9% thus leaving you with around 92% of the money.
      And that’s a full game being released.

      Now as mentioned above, a mod is a modification/addon/extension/pack/dlc/whatever and not a full game. So why Valve is taking 30% is mind boggling (they take that for full games being distributed via steam).

      And how Bethesda thinks that they can take 45% of what can potentially be fully original content is just insane.
      I think Bethesda should have some money though, but out of Valve’s cut instead (which also should be smaller than it is right now).

      • Humanoid says:

        A second-person perspective game would be fascinating (also probably nauseating). So when you’re shooting a mook, say, the camera is fixed to the perspective of that mook, then when he dies, it switches to the next one?

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Ah, I missed this and when replying to a comment below I just had this thought “what if Bethesda released the next ES Construction Kit RPGMaker style”? Sure, most mods do not have the span of a full game but some do, or at the very least a number of the more ambitious modders could be interested in tackling a project of that scope if they could then sell it.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I guess the paid-mod program is dead already, but let me still give some numbers for the record.

      I work in commercial HVAC controls. I take all the various networked devices involved in running very large buildings and laboratories, get them all to talk to one another, get them all to work according to the building engineer’s specifications (even if their out-of-the-box programming doesn’t do everything it should), and make custom graphical interfaces and dabatase collection systems for aggregating and displaying environmental data to maintenance people. I’m basically a professional modder, except in a commercial setting rather than a consumer one.

      Whenever the company I work for charges for my time as a programmer, they are legally bound (by governmental price obligations) to have at least 30% margin in their prices. That is, 70% of what they charge goes toward the cost of having me as an employee (salaries, taxes, benefits included) and the other 30% goes to the company. Again, that’s the minimum, quite often they will charge more than that if they can get away with it (30% is widely considered low-ball). Going from my own example, I would say a 30% cut shared between Bethesda and Valve is not entirely unreasonable, possibly even higher than that.

      Frankly, the most egregious problem of the division of revenue isn’t really on Steam’s side–30% isn’t egregiously bad, though it should be lower considering the low expected value per mod–but on Bethesda’s. For no more support than they provide, and for all the benefits they get from having modders create content for their game to begin with, Bethesda shouldn’t be calling for more than 5%, 10% max, let alone 45%. Frankly, if they were smart they wouldn’t take any cut and stop trying to kill the outstanding improvements modders make to their product with minimal out-of-pocket investment.

  35. Steve C says:

    I’m not an American but I would bet money that the $100 break point (and maybe the $400 too) are to deal with real world US laws. Specifically taxes and filing schedules/forms. Where less than $100 is not considered payment for work, but more than $100 is considered important enough to get the IRS involved.

    • Actually it’s not. Such reporting limits are a tad higher I think. (in Norway it’s 3000 crowns I think, not sure).

      The 100 payout is probably due to bank or transfers. It’s cheaper/easier to transfer a larger lump of money than a small one. (less transfer fees)
      They also benefit in that the money sits accumulating longer so they earn more interests on their (Valve’s) bank account.

  36. Aaron says:

    i have to add my feelings on this, i WILL NOT pay upfront for a mod, which might not work, which might have conflicts with other mods, which might be broken by a game update. i would donate money to a mod maker after the fact.

    when you pay before you get the product, whatever it is, it needs to work as advertised, it needs to keep working. These are things you dont get with mods

  37. And there is all was over: http://www.bethblog.com/2015/04/27/why-were-trying-paid-skyrim-mods-on-steam/

    Update: After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.

    Let’s hope they re-think this and come back with a system/contract and percentages that creators (and consumers) are comfortable with.

    The idea itself is a good one. Just horrible execution.

    • Syal says:

      I disagree that it’s a good idea. People make these things as a hobby, with the benefit of public feedback. The minute someone says their mod is worth charging money over, the audience (or at least the loud children) starts assuming every modder needs to be a full-fledged professional, and the viability of it as a learning experience drops. Anyone who can make a mod worth buying could make an indie game based around the mod worth buying instead, if they were interested in making money.

      • I do not see mods any different from Steam Greenlight really, besides that a mod is much smaller in scope.
        Many of the games there are worse than many free mods.

        There is one thing ID id not touch on in my comments so far.
        Only “new” mods should do the paid thing, old/existing mods should be free or have a donation button.

        I think what Valve was thinking (Bethesda I have no clue what they where thinking).

        That they (Valve) would get new exclusive Steam Mods for games (thus attracting more people to steam/that buy more games/and buy mods).

        Which is pretty damn clever. And I have no issue with that (other than Valve should reduce their percentage for mods as they are not full products).

        “Anyone who can make a mod worth buying could make an indie game based around the mod worth buying instead, if they were interested in making money”
        False, for a indie to make a Star Wars game for example would be prohibitive exoensive license wise (besides EA has a ll game rights to Star Wars now so they got a monopoly on Star Wars games).

        And I doubt that Bethesda would let a indie dev release a Elder Scroll game without bleeding the developer dry in the process.
        Take Skywind for example which is recreating Morrowind using the Skyrim engine, Bethesda would never allow that sold as a standalone game (I’m pretty sure of that).

        There is room for free mods, donation mods, paid mods.
        Same way as there is room for free music, donation music, paid music.
        And free games, donation games, paid games,
        And free movies, donation movies, paid movies.
        And free books, donation books, paid books.
        And free comics, donation comics, paid comics.
        And free websites, donation websites, paid websites.

        (BTW! Donationware and Shareware can be used interchangeably in this context for software.)
        Shamus’ site is a donation website for example.

        Also note that just because something is a hobby does not mean they should not be allowed to monetize it.
        Somebody making soap as a hobby and selling it on the market downtown should be allowed to do so despite it being a weekend hobby.

        Companies like Google reward workers by giving them xx% of the weeks work time to pursue their own projects (on company money).

        And Valve is founded on the principle that the employees can create/work on whatever they want.

        Also, what about that Sim City Online dev that left Sim City Online and is now making a living selling what is essentially mods for Cities: Skylines instead?

        Or Egosoft that worked with the mod community and include mods in a official patch for some of their previous games. (The patch/game update was free, though).

        If you are saying that the should be a cutoff between work and hobby and that only work should be paid.
        Then you would be okay with it if you had to pay for every single patch that is released for a game?
        After all the people making the patches at the company are working right? It’s certainly not their hobby!

        So you buy the game, then you pay for the day 0 patch, then you pay for the patch that is released a week later. By the end of the year you may have paid 3 times the game over, but that’s fine right?

        • Syal says:

          I guess I’ll try to tackle some of these.

          Quite a number of Greenlight games are simple cash-grabs. Mods are generally higher quality because modders want to make something worth playing instead of something to con people into giving them money. Letting people charge for them changes that.

          The Star Wars modder can still make a sci-fi game. The Skywind guys are murkier but they can probably make their own fantasy world. Them choosing to focus on adding to someone else’s setting is a self-proposed limitation.

          Your Egosoft example is the model I would like to see happen; if a mod is good, the company can buy it to distribute it officially and then the company is stating that the mod meets with their approval. The kind of half-formed non-disapproval of having modders charge money themselves and the company taking a cut is just offensive.

          I’m not saying you can’t sell soap, I’m saying if a guy sets up a stand to show off his soap making skills, and you surround him with a dozen people trying to sell soap, folks are going to treat the first guy like he’s the other guys, and god help him if he’s new to the soap-making process. The environment changes, and the amateur enthusiasts get the worst of it.

          I don’t actually play that many games that get patches, so I would kind of enjoy seeing a company try to charge for them; maybe folks would finally stop buying buggy games and we’d go back to the damn things working on release.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I think the main “problem” (actually a huge benefit to the modding community’s output so far!) is that everyone can and does build on everyone else’s mods. So at this point it becomes impossible who deserves which percentage of the price for any given mod. You simply cannot untangle this, and if you did then from that point on people would start guarding their products and become picky as to who should be allowed to build on what…

      The only simple way of giving the creators money seems to me to be having tip jars, or possibly using crowdfunding to fund people who work full-time on mods. Regularly charging money for mods you haven’t even tested yet, which may not work with your setup at all or refuse to cooperate with other mods you use… nooo, even regular day 1 Bethesda QA is better than that. You just cannot charge upfront for this.

  38. kanodin says:

    http://steamcommunity.com/games/SteamWorkshop/announcements/detail/208632365253244218 Thought I’d link that, the long and short of it is they killed the program. Certainly didn’t last long.

  39. Theminimanx says:

    So Valve has removed paid mods. That was faster than I expected.

    I’m really curious what the fallout of this whole mess will be. The dust will have to settle first, but we’ll see.

  40. Kyte says:

    FYI the PC Master Race thing came from Yahtzee being sarcastic in one of his videos and Reddit taking it literally (I don’t know if knowingly or not). Then they kinda merged.

    Also: Valve pulled back

  41. I’m cross posting this so people won’t have to dig through the comments on the Bethesda blog.

    The following is what Is currently in the blog comment moderation queue over there. (typos included).

    A few issues with this concept:

    1. 30% is what Valve take for full products, mods are not full products.
    2. Bethesda taking 45% cut regardless of the content.

    Don’t get me wrong, selling mods so creators get a montary incentive to make more/better mods, and gamers get to reward the mods they lik and want to see more of is fine.

    The idea itself is a very good idea, and I hope it’s revisited.
    But the execution and percentages was way off here.

    For example:
    If I create a music track and decide that Hey, maybe I could sell this as a music addon for SKyrim so there is a little more background music while running around.
    As the composer I created the song, ther eis nothing derivative, it’s all original content and I hold full copyright to it all.

    How can Bethesda justify taking a 45% cut of that?

    Now if I took a Bethesda created armor texture and simply changed the hue of it and sold that, I’d have no issue if Bethesda took 45%, heck in that case it may be justified if Bethesda took as much as 65%, leaving me only 5%, or maybe I should get less.

    As I said, the idea is good but the execution is bad. You can’t take a blanket 45% cut like that.
    And Valve should not take a full 30% cut like they do with full products. IF Valve took half of that (15%) that would be more palatable for I think.

    How to handle the Bethesda cut based on the content of a mod I have no idea, how do one make a sliding scale for this?
    The only way would be curation of some sort.
    Maybe Bethesda could do curation for paid Skyrim mods?
    That would also justify Bethesda taking a cut even for content that is fully original.

    And Bethesda could test the mod against the base game (latest patch) if it works.
    This would also ease some of the worry among consumers/customers.

    The idea is good, it just needs re-thinking.

    • Robbert-Jan says:

      I think the reason Valve takes a 30% cut for mods like they do for full games is to prevent companies from gaming the system (no pun intended).

      If Valve would take, say, 15% from mods, game companies could feel compelled to release content and DLCs as mods instead, as they get a bigger slice from that.

      Basically, to prevent people from finding “tax loopholes” in Steam, Valve needs to take an equal cut from anything they sell.

      That doesn’t change the fact that 30% is a very hefty cut and shows how painful Steam’s virtual monopoly is.

  42. Wide And Nerdy says:

    Well, I hope you savor your victory fanboys. Eating innovation must taste delicious.

    Modders who had hopes of producing professional content and being able to focus on their passion full time was a sick joke right? After all, that would jeopardize you being able to download free stuff. Downloading free stuff, the fruits of others labor, is a basic inalienable right. If you don’t like the price, just take what you want.

    And forget those other fanbases that don’t have modding nearly as well supported, fanbases that could have benefited from their franchises being economically incentivized to provide modding. Whats important is that you keep being able to download your mods for free.

    Cheers to yet another victory for the status quo. Shoot down motion controls, shoot down paid modding, shoot down DLC, shoot down glasses free 3D. Keep our shores safe.

    EDIT: And if you think I’m being unfair, you need only pay attention to what your own side is saying. I’m Mr Rogers compared to that.

    Also, I don’t EVER want to hear “Change is good” or “Times change” out of any of you ever again. You’re for the change YOU want just like everybody else and if its a change YOU don’t like you’ll yell as angrily as anybody else. You are no different.

    • Artur CalDazar says:

      Who are you even raging against here?

    • Alex says:

      “Modders who had hopes of producing professional content and being able to focus on their passion full time was a sick joke right?”

      Paying modders 25 cents on the dollar is a sick joke. Paid mods that are even more inadequate than horse armour is a sick joke. Paid mods that intend to be used as dependencies for other mods is a sick joke.

      If Bethesda had shown up with a bag of money and paid the SkyUI team to release a free update and let Bethesda put it into the core game, that would have been great. Creating a situation where you might pay $10 for a mod and then be told you have to pay another $5 for SkyUI if you want it to work is shit, pure and simple.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Of course that situation would be great. It would involve Bethesda coughing up cash while everyone still gets free downloads. Gotta have the free downloads.

        • Alex says:

          Imagine if you wanted to buy a companion mod, but it wouldn’t work without another paid companion mod, which didn’t work without SkyUI, which didn’t work without SKSE. Do you really not see the problem with having to pay for every single root on a tree of dependencies? It’s enough of a hassle when they’re free.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            That situation only existed because it was introduced into an environment that played loose and sloppy with that aspect of development. The answer is to keep that convoluted version of the mod free and charge for a rebuilt one without those dependencies. There’s no reason a companion mod should have that many dependencies. Maybe its built on another modder’s extended companion framework and you buy (or download) framework and the companion.

            Maybe the builder of the framework keeps that part free and makes their money on companions they build on the framework. There is good reason to do this because making it free means less competition from competing extended companion frameworks and that means potential customers who bought other companions don’t already have a clashing framework. If yours doesn’t succeed, you rebuild your companions on the dominant framework and that becomes an advertised feature.

            The answers aren’t hard to find, but I understand if you’re not motivated to find them. Now that I’ve calmed down a bit.

            • If Valve and Bethesda had a curation system in place then this whole mess would have been less um. messy.
              Folks would probably still gripe about the cut Bethesda takes (and to some extent Valves cut).

              But the backlash wouldn’t have been there.
              But only if new mods was being submitted and old/existing ones rejected.
              After all the mod uploader must have permission from all contributors to do so, and a curation would have to make sure of this.

              There’s more to such a system than just that but, but opening the floodgates like they did this week was just wrong on so many levels.

              If somebody creates a golden armor, and Valve and Bethesda have no issues with it (after curation) and gamers are willing to buy it, then let people buy it. I have no issues with it. I myself may not buy it but other might want it.

      • PeteTimesSix says:

        “Paying modders 25 cents on the dollar is a sick joke.”

        See, I keep seeing that argument places, and I have to wonder how do so many people manage to pass elementary school without learning that 0.25, while less than 1, is infact still more than 0.

        …okay, that was a bit mean. You do get my point though, right?

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      (I’m currently at work and won’t be able to listen to the podcast until at least tomorrow, possibly Friday, so sorry if this overlaps)

      So people get pissy because they think that something they had for free is now being (optionally) charged for, what else is new?

      I think part of the problem is that this came largely out of left field and Valve seem to do really poorly in marketing these new ideas before throwing them to the, inevitably, angry mob. The effect is that the concept doesn’t come off to people as “You know all that work that people from SkyUI or Skywind put into their mods? We worked out a way that they can legally monetize on all that work if they so desire!” What people hear is “you’ll have to pay for mods now! and even if a mod is free it probably depends on a mod that you have to pay for! and we’re taking a 75% cut! MWAHAHAHA!” How much this interpretation is justified is a big discussion that is going on in a few comment threads further up.

      Edit: an afterthought
      What if Bethesda were to release the next ES Contruction Kit sans game? RPGMaker style? That would be pretty interesting…

    • Galad says:

      Well, enjoy your sea of shitty paid mods drowning the handful of good paid mods an year after Valve finds a way to re-implement this.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I won’t because, just as I wouldn’t download those mods, I also wouldn’t pay for them. You see, thats how a market works. I’d check mods carefully, try them out, read reviews, request refunds. Its a bit of work but then trying out mods usually is.

        I’ll also be enjoying my professionally produced third party DLC.

  43. Aaron says:

    hurrah for getting rid of that feature! that system seemed to be like encouraging modders to “pan for gold in their own shower” to borrow a line from shamus

  44. Greg says:

    Campster hit the nail on the head with this. This is just another symptom of Valve’s preference for laissez faire crowdsourcing, which is itself connected to Valve’s aversion to hierarchies. This approach is completely in line with many other interviews and talks that Gabe’s given in the past. Valve’s business plan is to hire a relatively small number of high-value talent and try to crowdsource anything can’t be solved with that approach. This is why they struggle with curating Steam’s front page and customer service. We are seeing the limits of Valve’s approach to business and I’m not sure how they will address them in the long run without changing some of the culture they have cultivated.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I’m thinking there may also be some ideas about the market’s automagical problem-solving abilities floating around at Valve. This whole thing, by the way, shows nicely how commercializing a previously non-commercial field of activity does not always improve things and can, when done the wrong way, screw things up royally. No, people are not motivated by money alone.

      I think the tip jar thing would be the more responsible and way better method. It may result in less money spent by players but quite possibly more money paid to modders (assuming no crazy cuts by developers), and also quite possibly players more thoroughly checking out who they give money to (the guy who finished the mod, the guy whose mod it is based on, or the person who made the framework for 30-odd mods you’re running…).
      Then, if Bethesda wanted to profit from it, they could still decide to improve modders’ and mod players’ lives by offering DLC which adds better mod support, an easier modding interface, maybe integrate some of the extensions already in circulation (and give their creators a share!) … I bet they could sell a lot of those.

  45. Artur CalDazar says:

    Well since the paid mods that by is gone (for now, I expect it will be fixed Ian’s returned) I’ll say the whole cult and master race stuff gets creepy. I’ve had conversations with people who entirely don’t get the nazi connections and will aggressively attack the notion talking about being a superior master race is anything but a fun time for all involved.

    That’s weird and makes it hard to like the jokes.

  46. As a bedroom level indie – I’m really hoping itch.io gets bigger. The platform is easy to use as a developer (with a pay-what-you-want to itch.io model) and easy to use as a consumer. I’ve released 2 games on it so far (one 7drl, and one far worse and that took far more then 7 days roguelike), and it’s been fantastic.

  47. Enno says:

    I am currently listening to this episode (my podcast backlog is absurd), and even though Valve seems to have understood that they opened a can of worms without knowing what it takes to do something like this, I think I can give a different perspective on why this whole paid mods idea was nearly impossible from the start.

    What Valve is doing here is entering the wonderfull world of commercial User Generated Content (UGC). Second Life comes to mind, or any of the other social virtual worlds (didn’t Shamus work on one?) come to mind.

    My last job in California was at IMVU, a virtual world with exclusively user generated content, and a catalog of millions of UGC products. You could think of it as a virtual world in which every character model, every piece of furniture, and every piece of clothing is a mod. We really only built the engine and the marketplace. And believe me, running the marketplace is the hardest part of that business.

    A lot of the things Shamus mentioned in the episode resonated with me. The horse d*cks? Yeah, you need humans to filter those out. Crowd sourcing that sort of thing can help you identify bad products, but in the end, someone who works at the company needs to have the final word. The copyright infringement and product theft? Again, you need humans to deal with those cases. The legal framework for that is the DMCA, and as a publisher of UGC, that means you let people upload whatever they want, but if someone asks you to take it down, you do that.

    Finally, there was the question of who gets paid for hybrid products. In IMVU, this is extremely common, and well supported by the editing tools. You can take the shirt that somebody designed, re-texture it, and sell it as your product. You can turn the shirt model into a wedding dress, and sell that. Every new product is a derivation of a previous one, and the catalog knows the dependency chain. It has to do that for technical reasons, too. And if you sell a new product like that, you’re paying the original creator the price that they put on derivations like that (which is usually less or equal to the price of buying the original product outright). And so forth up the entire chain. At the very end of this chain is always a base product that IMVU created, and the derivation cost of that product is how the company makes money.

    This whole setup is the result of years of hard work and experience. I don’t see Valve doing anything like that right now, and I haven’t heard of them hiring anyone with the experience to do it either. Nor do I think that their customer support department is equipped to handle the volume of work that it would take to do this right.

    In a way it’s sad that we don’t get to see Valve try to run a virtual economy, because I’m sure it’s possible to do it right, and they just underestimated what it would take. They aren’t the first ones: Google used to have a Second Life competitor named Lively which they launched in July 2008 and closed in December that same year. It seemed like a technology experiment that they couldn’t figure out how to monetize.

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