Steam opens door for paid mods to enter Steam Workshop, starting with Skyrim

Steam Workshop has allowed content creators to make money by contributing items to games, but now Valve is about to let them sell their mod work, too.

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Steam Workshop has been offering new avenues of revenue for content creators, offering money for those that have contributed weapons, maps, and items. Now Valve is opening up a new path for contributors, allowing mod creators to put their work on Steam for sale.

Mod creators will be able to list a price for their work on Steam Workshop. Any work purchased will see that money go directly to the mod creators. Anything purchased will be available to play immediately. Valve is kicking the feature off with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, with other games set to be added soon.

Steam Workshop has brought in over $57 million for content creators, with mods providing the newest way for them to make a few bucks. Of course, free mods will still be available, for those that want to maintain the purity of the modding community.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 23, 2015 10:35 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Steam opens door for paid mods to enter Steam Workshop, starting with Skyrim

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 10:45 AM

      Ok, all, what do we think of this and the potential implications?

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        April 23, 2015 10:46 AM

        FTP mods.

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        April 23, 2015 10:48 AM

        I thought they were already doing this, don't people make money off tf2 items?

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          April 23, 2015 10:53 AM

          Items, yes. But this is the first time that mods, something that has traditionally been free in PC circles, will now be available for purchase directly from the mod makers.

          The example I'm falling back on is, what happens when something like this comes to Cities: Skylines? That's a $20 investment off the bat, but what if all of those games mods suddenly start to cost money? Does that change how you approach the game? Do you hesitate to pick up mods at that point?

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            April 23, 2015 10:55 AM

            I have a feeling most paid mods won't be purchased unless they are very, very good.

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              April 23, 2015 10:56 AM

              Agreed. The market will sort itself out here. The hobbyists will continue to make the small stuff for free, perhaps a paid "donation" version, and the more complete ones will charge money.

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            April 23, 2015 10:58 AM

            I don't see it necessarily as a negative thing. It's unlike DLC where you can accuse a game maker of leaving shit out, this is stuff dreamed up by the community and honestly a lot of them deserve a bit of scratch for their efforts.

            I think policing copyright issues will be a problem. Randy Savage would not be pleased

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            April 23, 2015 11:09 AM

            Cities: Skylines explicitly said you can't charge for mods that use their code (which is the majority of mods right now):
            http://www.reddit.com/r/CitiesSkylinesModding/comments/2zxym9/wip_more_beautification_water_props_terraforming/cpns44o

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            April 23, 2015 12:34 PM

            I think paid mods is a great thing, especially in the case of Skyrim. I've been using the same mods for almost 4 years now, and I'd gladly support mod developers as long as its at a reasonable price. It's also worth noting that Facepunch Studios basically exists today in its current form because they were able to sell Garry's Mod (which still sells tons of copies).

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        April 23, 2015 11:04 AM

        I think it would be interesting if the game developers got a cut (the post suggests they don't), because then there's an extra incentive to build in mod support. I'm sure this would enable some sort of bad behaviour, but I don't know what.

        I don't like the idea of seeing mods split up like mobile apps, with a limited "free edition" and a paid "full edition". Also, currently I can usually download a Fallout/TES mod and then make changes to it myself -- but if it's a paid mod, I'm less sure what I'm allowed to do or who I can share it with.

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        April 23, 2015 11:36 AM

        Let the price gouging commence. Without vetting for quality this could turn into the Windows App Store pretty quickly.

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        April 23, 2015 11:37 AM

        Not a problem because a mod is going to have to be really really good for anyone to buy it, otherwise, someone else could make a similar free mod to yours.

        Sometimes I use paid software. Sometimes I use free software.

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        April 23, 2015 11:40 AM

        What happens when a patch rolls out and breaks the mod and it's past the refund period?

        What happens when someone changes a variable of existing horse_dongs.mod and calls it different_horse_dongs.mod?

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          April 23, 2015 3:30 PM

          You can add the the mod conflicting with another mod along with that.

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        April 23, 2015 11:44 AM

        Huge implications, I think its due and just considering how hard some mod teams work. I will support it.

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          April 23, 2015 5:26 PM

          I wonder how the payments will be handled for mods that are develiped by several people. Does everyone get an equal cut? Things could get very messy when there are multiple people contributing varying amounts of time and skills to a project.

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            April 23, 2015 5:48 PM

            Exactly, and whats to prevent someone else from just re-uploading someone else's mod [with or without changes].

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              April 23, 2015 5:58 PM

              The owner of the mod can file a DMCA takedown request.

              There have been a few cases in the past with DOTA2 and CS:GO cosmetics where a mod maker stole some art, threw it on an item and submitted it to the workshop for profit.

              The only difference there is that Valve chooses which items make it in to the game. Right now there doesn't seem to be any approval process for having a mod added to the workshop. Valve also doesn't seem to be doing any sort of QA on these either.

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        April 23, 2015 1:17 PM

        I'd be willing to pay if it did two very, very important things

        1) Combined the most popular mods and installed them without issue (including ENB) so I don't have to worry about configuring anything

        and

        2) Maintained updates that were made to the package to keep compatibility and such so I don't start up a game and it either tells me a mod I had used last session isn't working or just crashes to desktop.

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        April 23, 2015 3:06 PM

        I wouldn't pay for a Skyrim mod. If something important like the unofficial patch went pay only I just wouldn't play.

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        April 23, 2015 6:06 PM

        Popcorn is in the microwave.

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        April 23, 2015 9:37 PM

        Fuck. That. Shit.

      • reply
        April 24, 2015 1:30 AM

        [deleted]

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      April 23, 2015 11:03 AM

      How is this supposed to work legally speaking? If I make a mod using assets from the game I'm modding, isn't that the property of the publisher at that point? That aside, I can see how this will be another reason for developers or publishers to lock out modding.

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      April 23, 2015 11:04 AM

      Some of the stuff available for games like Skyrim are so massive, that the work involved in making them must be herculean. I would love to be able to compensate people for their effort.

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      April 23, 2015 11:14 AM

      I think this damages the mod community. Crap mods will go up for sale first in a kind of flood. The really good ones will be the ones people wouldn't mind throwing a few bucks at, but it means you have to only release your mod on Steam if you want any money or they could just get it from free from the usual places. Those crap mod authors won't even give that point a second thought before posting their mods.

      We don't need more pay walls. I'd be in favor for built-in donate buttons if anything.

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        April 23, 2015 11:15 AM

        I noticed Wet and Cold (pretty popular mod) only made their new 2.0 version available on Steam for $0.99 minimum. I wonder how that is going to go over with the community (not well is my guess).

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          April 23, 2015 11:20 AM

          It's $4.99 now. I see Steam is offering a bundle with it too. Half the price of the original game. wow, Steam... just, wow.

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            April 23, 2015 11:21 AM

            It's "pay what you want", but the minimum you can pay is $0.99 (so I guess "pay what you want as long as you want to pay more than 99 cents").

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              April 23, 2015 11:25 AM

              Oh, I didn't notice the little drop down arrow. I see now.

              But, that is the listed price in the bundle. Which makes it even worse. WTH Steam?!?!?!?!

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                April 23, 2015 11:27 AM

                This is definitely going to be "a fool and his money are soon parted".

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          April 23, 2015 5:54 PM

          A few months back I read a blog post from a CS:GO map maker who was lucky enough to have his map included in a recent operation. Every map maker that has their map included in an operation gets a cut of the ticket sales. This guy was able to put the money he got from ticket sales towards living expenses while he was still in college.

          People love to paint Valve as the bad guy for putting up these pay walls but they don't realise how the income generated for the content creators can help improve their lives.

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      April 23, 2015 11:23 AM

      I see they're also doing bundles:
      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=429226887

      *IF* these are decent curated bundles of quality stuff.... MAYBE, just maybe I'd consider dropping some money if I was assured it would all just work and not have problems vs the wild west method of dealing with mods that usually happens. But, that bundle is half the price of the original game.

      And we thought DLC was going to break the industry. gak!

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        April 23, 2015 11:51 AM

        Comments are really angry. I can't say I really disagree.

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          April 23, 2015 11:52 AM

          Internet comments are typical. So much hate.

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          April 23, 2015 11:53 AM

          And by "comments," you mean the same two or three copied and pasted repeatedly.

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            April 23, 2015 11:58 AM

            Yeah. It's pretty typical ragespam.

            However, I think the pricing is really problematic. This pack of a few items and some gameplay tweaks costs more than the game itself! Also, I'm usually not sure if I like a mod and want to play through the whole game using it until I've messed around with it for several hours at least.

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              April 23, 2015 1:20 PM

              I think you will see a lot of these mods have a pay version and a free version, to facilitate trying it out.

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                April 23, 2015 3:21 PM

                I think you'll see this whole thing come crashing down pretty quickly.

                People, by and large, are not going to pay for mods. Especially not when just a couple of them cost more than the entire game does during Steam sales.

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                  April 23, 2015 4:11 PM

                  That assumes that there won't still be loads of free mods. These things can and will coexist.

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                  April 23, 2015 6:10 PM

                  So then what is everyone so upset about? If no one is willing to buy mods then this initiative will fail and the modding community will continue to operate as it has for the past few decades.

    • Ziz legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      reply
      April 23, 2015 11:36 AM

      So no more free mods?

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        April 23, 2015 12:02 PM

        Of course there will be. There's still free games and free software even though both are sold as well.

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      April 23, 2015 11:42 AM

      I'm perfectly fine with this. As much as I like free improvements to my game, people are putting real effort into creating these so it only makes sense they can profit off it, if that's their goal.

      Honestly - what's the difference between this and DLC?

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        April 23, 2015 12:09 PM

        I agree. If there is unique value to a mod because of effort and skill, then they should be able to profit from it. Gamers aren't owed anything for free, even if we have become accustomed to it.

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        April 23, 2015 12:12 PM

        I'm on your side here but you're making that statement as if everyone's ok with DLC

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          April 23, 2015 12:24 PM

          They are ok with DLC. They keep buying it.

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            April 23, 2015 12:50 PM

            People keep buying DLC, sure, but there's a very vocal contingent who detests it. The same squad getting butthurt at the moment.

            And I must say, if Valve's track record with rolling out things like Greenlight is any indication, this is going to probably be a bumpy ride.

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        April 23, 2015 3:28 PM

        Exactly, this will lead to more mods (and thus more high quality mods). If the developers got a cut it would incentivize them to add mod tools to their games.

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      April 23, 2015 11:50 AM

      ugh

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      April 23, 2015 11:59 AM

      Did I miss something or is Bethsoft going to allow this? Because they don't.

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      April 23, 2015 12:01 PM

      My mod has 151k subs, imma be rich!
      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=10648

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        April 23, 2015 12:27 PM

        you made this? I used this before installing Better Horses

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          April 23, 2015 12:31 PM

          Yeah, fast hack i whipped up a couple of days after they released the creation kit. I don't get how its still one of the top 20 highest rated mods on the workshop.

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            April 23, 2015 12:32 PM

            Or maybe its top 30. Been a while since I checked.

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            April 23, 2015 1:13 PM

            It's fucking fantastic, that's why it's so popular.

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        April 23, 2015 5:18 PM

        Each time you whistle 5c. With a 50% chance that your mouth is too dry and you can't whistle. What a deal! So cheap. $15 DLC unlocks unlimited whistle. You're welcome.

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 12:02 PM

      I don't think I like this idea.

    • ArB legacy 10 years
      reply
      April 23, 2015 12:05 PM

      I think it will result in a flood of very similar mods and it'll become even harder to find the good ones. It'll look like the google play app store. I hope that's not the case, but I can't see it being a good thing.

      • Zek legacy 10 years
        reply
        April 23, 2015 3:26 PM

        Anything that results in a flood of new mods is a good thing. The best ones will rise to the top.

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 12:28 PM

      how much for the realistic horse pussy mod

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 12:37 PM

      If this had been around 3-4 years ago what would have happened with DayZ? Perhaps they would have just kept making the mod better instead of shifting to the arguably incredibly slow standalone development.

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      April 23, 2015 12:38 PM

      This is great.

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      April 23, 2015 12:51 PM

      So for better or worse, probably every commercial addon for FSX is about to show up on Steam Workshop.

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      April 23, 2015 12:59 PM

      Yeah, this will surely guarantee that all the nude mods will be FIRST CLASS

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      April 23, 2015 1:00 PM

      What about support? If a game updates and breaks a mod that I paid for, does the nodded have to update the mod? For how long do they have to do this? What happens if a mod is abandoned?

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      April 23, 2015 1:15 PM

      This is a fucking terrible idea. And attaching it to a game that's 4 years old and already has probably long since seen the peak of modding interest (and effort) makes no sense at all, especially given how many mods already exist for it and the incredible ease of pirating the content (unless they're adding DRM).

      They should have waited until Fallout 4 to start this, and launched with it.

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        April 23, 2015 2:54 PM

        [deleted]

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          April 23, 2015 2:59 PM

          [deleted]

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            April 23, 2015 3:14 PM

            True, but my point is that it's also established already, both in terms of the audience (who I'd wager will not take to paying for things they already got for free), and the creators (who now have to decide between ignoring this, charging for stuff that was free, or developing new stuff and only charging for that).

            If they did this with a brand new title, made a big hubbub about how mod creators could now get paid for their work and all that, I think it might go over okay (minus the potential issues with paying for content that interacts with a game but that the game developer has no ability to test).

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 3:10 PM

      Information on how much money mod authors get out of the deal.

      From http://gamasutra.com/view/news/241836/Game_mods_can_now_be_sold_on_the_Steam_Workshop_for_real_money.php :

      A Valve representative responded to Gamasutra's request for clarification on revenue splits by highlighting the Skyrim Steam Workshop page, which notes that all revenue from sales of Skyrim Steam Workshop content will be split between Valve, Bethesda and the content creator(s).

      People who sell Skyrim content on the Workshop get a 25 percent cut of the revenue, but it seems that the amount a content creator receive is ultimately up to a game's publisher or developer. New supplemental terms for the Steam Workshop legal agreement state that "the percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue that [content creators] are entitled to receive will be determined by the developer/publisher of the Application" for which they've created content.

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        April 23, 2015 3:33 PM

        Wonder if they do the thing like Apple App Store where you only get paid at different sales milestones.

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          April 23, 2015 3:40 PM

          Yup. Saw on reddit that you don't get jack shit until they owe you at least $100. Given the 75% cut Valve/Bethesda are taking, you'd need to make $400 selling the mod before you get paid your $100. Meanwhile, Valve and Bethesda split $300 for doing...what exactly?

          I do not understand how anyone can be supporting this blatant exploitative cash grab on their parts. This isn't about helping modders get compensated, it's about a cheap and easy payday for two giant corporation.

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            April 23, 2015 4:10 PM

            Figured as much. Though from my audit/accounting experience it does make tracking accounts payable and recognizing revenue much easier.

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            April 23, 2015 4:32 PM

            I believe that's the same cut current steam workshop stuff gets. Steam takes a cut for distributing it on their service (I'd guess around 30%) and Bethesda takes a cut for making the game the mod relies on and the mod tools. Doesn't seem too unreasonable to me.

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              April 23, 2015 4:44 PM

              While there is some value in Steam's distribution and Bethesda having made the game in the first place, I don't think these ratios are even remotely appropriate.

              IMO, at the very least, 75% should be going to the mod makers. The "risk" on Valve/Bethesda's part is basically nothing, compared to the much more voluminous amount of risk and/or work the mod makers take when developing mods instead of say, developing something else. I just don't think they are in the right here, at all, especially given what they're offering.

              Now, if this was them offering support for bug and compatibility testing, making certain that mod creators got updates ahead of time to update their mods, etc, then I can see an argument for them getting a bigger piece of the pie.

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                April 23, 2015 5:23 PM

                Err..... no. No, individual mod makers are not taking more risk than Valve or Bethesda. Like at all.

                Valve and Bethesda also could have devoted the significant resources they spent on the Workshop (Valve) and mod engine support + Workshop (Bethesda) support on other things. So it's categorically not zero risk for Valve or Bethesda. It's an huge investment.

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                April 23, 2015 5:32 PM

                How much money will the mod makers be spending on support? Probably nothing. Valve will be shouldering the cost of responding to all the support tickets that the paid mods will generate. They are also hosting and developing the platform that is being used to sell these mods.

                I don't know of any distribution platform that takes less than a 25% cut of a sale.

          • reply
            April 23, 2015 4:40 PM

            Is that legal?

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            April 23, 2015 5:17 PM

            For doing what? Valve assembled over 15 years a platform with around 100 million users. The code and architecture of both Steam and Steam Workshop would take tens of millions of dollars to recreate. The games that mods are being sold for are also millions, if not tens of millions, worth of investment dollars. Having "proper" mod support in a game to take advantage of the Workshop is also a considerable investment that's at least 6 figures if not 7 in scale.

            For a user to be able to spend a few days to leverage that level of investment and that large of an investment is pretty spectacular.

          • reply
            April 23, 2015 5:23 PM

            Yeah, Bethesda and Valve bring nothing to the table. No game that allows for easier modding. No giant store front.

            JFC. It's as if making a buck in video games is a crime to some of you.

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              April 23, 2015 5:37 PM

              This thread is more tame than any of the ones going on at reddit. They're all filled with 17 year olds who are livid at the thought of paying for content created by others.

              There are some valid concerns that have come up in response to this announcement but it doesn't warrant the rage filled comments people are spewing.

    • reply
      April 23, 2015 3:10 PM

      WTF!?!

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      April 23, 2015 4:41 PM

      [deleted]

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      April 23, 2015 5:12 PM

      This awesome. I love it.

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      April 23, 2015 5:33 PM

      I wonder what will happen if you buy a mod that isn't compatible with another paid mod, or mods that are awfully buggy.

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        April 23, 2015 5:43 PM

        They've already said. They will offer refunds for 24 hours if it's broken. Otherwise, they advise posting about it on the mod's discussion board.

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          April 23, 2015 5:46 PM

          I wonder about packs though and what about high-end content? Some stuff require you to go through a fair amount of content before reaching it. That may be quite a lot to test in only 24 hours.

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      April 23, 2015 9:36 PM

      This is really surprising. I just got home from work and haven't read what the overall reaction is to this. I'm all for supporting people from whom I gain entertainment from but this isn't the right way to do it. It's going to ultimately devalue the overall product and.....well the more I think about it, there's a million things that makes this a mess. Is steam trying to attract people from the MODDB or something? Anyone can make money on using Bethesda's ip? How will they support it? Will there be refunds? Good god..

      Sorry, I'm rambling but this is....this is disappointing. It's going to take so much heart and soul out of some of the mods man. The ability to donate would be so much better. I'm really not one for hyperbolic rage but..well this just kind of pisses me off. I guess I'll see how it plays out and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Shit

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        April 23, 2015 9:44 PM

        It's going to put so much crap to sift through on the Workshop. So many mods will be born out of profit rather than passion. This is certainly terrible news for the consumer and I'd argue it's going to hurt the mod devs in the long-term. Before we know it, there will DLCs on mods and a shield with a Dr. Pepper logo on it.

        Terrible precedent.

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      April 23, 2015 11:36 PM

      This is great. The content creators can choose to release for free like traditional mods, or make money for their work. That's exactly the way it should work.

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        April 24, 2015 3:04 AM

        I've calmed down a bit since initially reading it but I maintain this will hurt modding in the long-term. 75% / 25% is really only benefiting Valve/GameDev and charging for a mod will only mean it will be on less computers.

        Modding was never a "for profit" thing to begin with - if they wanted to "show appreciation" they would either flip the percentage, replace it with a "Donate" button, or keep it the way it was and promote them on the slider. Let's be realistic, entitled gamers are going to make modder's lives a living hell because of support and any other stupid shit that entitled gamers bitch about. For 25%. Of 10s of dollars. Have you read the Steam forum? What was once a project of passion now becomes a part-time job where you're making 40 cents/hr trying to make YOUR mod work with THAT mod or get an unjustifiable negative review and needless drama. What if someone takes a modders "original" work and uses it in his mod? It's going to complicate things and make it worse for everyone involved.

        I swear if EA did this with the 75% / 25% scenario the world would literally split in half. This is nothing but an extended revenue stream for Valve and the Game Studio in which they have to do absolutely nothing (!!) to collect.

        ...and I would love to see modders get compensated (somehow), just not like this. I understand there's a bunch of game-devs and modders on this forum and have a bunch of empathy for the cohorts. I just see this as nothing but a short-sighted cash grab shrouded in good intentions. I hope I'm overreacting but this just seems like a terrible precedent where the real losers are the gamers & the modders. I hope I'm wrong as fuck.

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        April 24, 2015 4:17 AM

        Yeah, I like the idea. It may even result in higher quality mods because there's incentive to create quality content (besides as a labour of love)

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      April 24, 2015 1:27 AM

      It's simple. Valve said to Bethesda that Horse Armor sells just fine if you market it properly. Bethesda called bullshit, Valve put hats on EVERYTHING.

    • reply
      April 24, 2015 2:05 AM

      [deleted]

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