Update: Besthesda Explains Why It's NOT Allowing Paid Skyrim Mods
Update: Bethesda has updated its blog to state that it will no longer support paid mods in Skyrim.
Hot on the heels of Valve's announcement that it is abandoning its paid-mod initiative, Bethesda has amended its blog post with a straightforward 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."
Original Story: Last week, Valve announced a new update to Steam Workshop that allows mod creators to charge money for their content, starting with Bethesda's open-world RPG, Skyrim. The news was met with criticism by some gamers, leading Valve's Gabe Newell to hold an impromptu AMA on Reddit to answer questions and concerns. Today Bethesda has written up its own explanation of why it has chosen to participate in the program.
The post on Bethesda's blog explains that its participation in paid mods comes from a desire to expand modding and support those making the content, and that it won't be forcing mod creators to charge money. "We believe most mods should be free," the post states. "But we also believe our community wants to reward the very best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But again, we don't think it's right for us to decide who those creators are or what they create."
The post also breaks down how profit sharing will work. Bethesda says it's up to the mod creator to decide how much to charge, citing Oblivion's infamous Horse Armor DLC as the company's own personal growing pains for figuring out what to charge. Whatever price is chosen, 30-percent of the revenue goes to Valve and 40-percent goes to Bethesda, leaving 25-percent for the mod creator. Think that's unfair? Bethesda explains its logic:
"The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player base and built-in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales data, we're looking at some modders making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited."
Bethesda goes on to say that it considers this an in-progress experiment, and that it's open to reassessing its decisions based on feedback from mod creators and the community. You can read the whole post at the link below.
It's great that Bethesda is outlining its decision to allow paid mods, but there are still tons of unanswered questions surrounding the initiative. While I think that mod creators should ultimately have the right to charge for their creations if they want to, we can only guess at the long-lasting impact that paid mods could have on the modding community. Will the availability of free, wacky mods dry up if everyone is inclined to charge a couple bucks for them? Will other publishers take bigger cuts or dictate what content creators can (or must) charge for their mods? And what will happen to all the websites and communities devoted to hosting and sharing mods? Only time will tell, but gamers have a right to be apprehensive about Valve's newest initiative.