Pay for Skyrim Mods: Revenue for Valve and Creators Frustrates PC Gamers

Steam implements a new plan in order to help creators make money off of their mods.

One of the best features for PC gaming is how vibrant the modding community can be for particular games. Well, Valve sees this aspect, and has turned the modding community in the Steam Workshop into a full-fledged marketplace.

Starting off this trend will be the game with one of the most active modding communities on Steam, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Creators on Steam now have the opportunity to sell their products in order to make a bit of money off the mods they make. Price ranges start based on one's choosing.

Even though people can still choose to give out their mods for free, users can now sell their creations for whatever amount they want. If the mod is bought, the creator will receive 25% of the charged fee, and the consumer will still have the option of refunding the item if they are dissatisfied. 

Some of the mods created for Skyrim are arguably full standalone games, and Valve would love to help reward the creator for generating such high-level content. Valve released a statement saying: 

"By paying for mods and supporting the people that made them, you enable those artists and creators to continue working on their mods and inspire new modders to try their hand in creating new, higher quality items and experiences."

With the release of this new program, not everyone is happy with the idea of paying for their favorite mods. A post on Reddit related to the monetization of mods was titled "RIP PC Gaming (the beginning of the end)." Another one satirizes the sale of mods in the Steam Summer Sales, showing how prices of mods were on sale up to 25% off:

There are currently more than 24,000 mods that are free on the Steam Workshop, and with a total of 170 million downloads, there is no wonder Valve is trying to take the step forward with Skyrim mods.

Steam users do already have the ability to sell items on games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive; this will be the first time that a user is able to make money off a non-Valve produced game.

The intentions of helping content creators are there, but is this new plan headed towards the right direction?

Published Apr. 24th 2015
  • radogamer
    I have been a Skyrim modder for over three years, I have seven mods on Steam and although my mods are not hugely popular at least two of them have over 2,000 subscribers. I use over 172 mods on my Skyrim game alone. Mods like Wyrmstooth which I use, are so huge they are a game within the game. If no one has ever created a mod, then you must understand there is quite a lot of work that goes in to those little plugins that everybody just drops in to their game, even the most simple mod is a lot of work. I am also a paid member of the Nexus mod community and by doing that I feel I help to keep a community of modders afloat where they can be more open and creative with their mods than on steam.

    My point is, for so long we as gamers have been quite fortunate that mod creators haven't been charging money for their work long before this. Recently I posted a new follower on Steam and was faced with the new choice, of course I gave my mod away for free as I do it only to help the game be more interesting and enhanced. I say if mod creators want to make money for their work so be it and if you don't want to be flooded with crap mods for sale, simply sort your search using free mods choice which I'm sure will be part of this change.

    As a long time gamer I have become accustomed to change, it's all part of THE GAME!
  • Victor Ren
    As a PC gamer I would like to thank you first off for taking so much time to create extra content for a game's community and some of the mods are really awesome.

    If we were to pay for mods like we do for DLC, do you think it's fair for Valve to take such a large percentage of the cut though when it is your content? Do you think there should be a way to negotiate, or be priced base on what the content is?
  • Si_W
    If they're hosting the mods, why shouldn't they take a cut?
  • Victor Ren
    75% vs 25%? You make some really great mod and sell it for $3, and I'll give your $0.75 back? That's almost nothing if you are the creator. With CS:GO skins Steam doesn't take that much, and those are not even user generated.
  • Si_W
    I didn't say the level of cut Steam would take was right, just that the principle was right.
  • radogamer
    First you are quite welcome I totally enjoy creating mods!! In answer to the question I believe it is a bit excessive what Steam is doing in regards to monies. It's unfortunate that in most cases in many areas of artistic endeavor, and I do consider modding a type of art, the artist always seems to be taken advantage of.

    One of the reasons I support Nexus is because in a very tasteful and modest way they have a means for mod users and other modders to support the work being shared.

    Lets face it, with out the game their would be no mods so in truth, Lets say Bethesda for example could take offense and legal action, if they wanted, for people making money off of their creation, so who's to say what the real unethical situation is in the long run.

    In that regards I'm not sure if Steam is actually legally capable of doing what they are attempting. Hence I remain a free mod creator. But I still support the overall community of mod creators in what ever way I can.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I fully understand the upsides of this system and the potential revenue for modders and steam, but I am very afraid of the many drawbacks. Soon the workshop is going to be flooded with mod trash of people trying to make a quick buck who could literally care less. Not to mention the fact that you may buy a mod and the next day an update breaks the mod, there is nothing stopping the modder from walking away and never fixing it, in which case you are just out of the money and have to accept it. This just simply isn't going to work, it is too easily abused. If maybe the process had to include a green light period. Where the community actually has to approve something before it can be charged for money or released. This would keep a lot of the crap out.
  • Victor Ren
    I agree, I know some of the very best mods are still free, and from the few I have seen, a lot people have been trying to make an item to generate a quick buck. The positive side is that there are refunds, but the warranty is not that long.

    I liked the idea of donations for really great mods, and if anything I think Steam should review certain mods to see their worth it before deciding if it should be marketed.
  • Farrel Nobel
    Hmm... I feel like a better way is for the game devs to bundle up the best mods and sell them at a certain price. That way the proceeds can go to modders and the users could get a proper bundle of mods that players actually need. But that's just my idea.
  • Si_W
    That won't necessarily work as who decides what the best mods are?
  • Victor Ren
    Also a bundle of mods could lead to some distribution problems between the developers in my opinion. For example... "who's to say we all get the same cut from the money poll when I made five new dungeons for the player to explore, while the other guy just modded in 2 small quests?"

    I think that these should be sold separately just like the skins in CS:GO.
  • Farrel Nobel
    Yes, that's true. Didn't really think about that.
  • Ashley Gill
    Associate Editor
    There are several problems with the Valve's new mod monetization scheme, enough so that I won't get into all of them here but do want to touch on a couple.

    First and foremost is that the mod community has always been a labor of obsession and love, not one for monetary gain. Bringing what is essentially a capitalistic construct into a community that has traditionally been free-flowing isn't going to do anything to help it. It's only going to encourage creators who aren't passionate to pump out half-baked mods using other people's dependency structures to make a quick buck (though since creators won't get a payout until they've reached the $400 mark it is counter intuitive to this).

    Secondly, because of how modding communities and (in some cases) the actual structure of particular mods work, this allows creators to mooch the hard work of others to build their own mods and sell them. This is especially the case, again, with dependency mods -- ie, mods that make other mods work. The people who create these won't be compensated, and there have already been issues within the Skyrim modding community since the announcement and implementation.

    Nothing good will come from a big company monetizing mods. Many big mod creators already ask for donations outside of Steam; and with the new system they are not allowed to ask for donations outside of Steam if their mod is marked as pay to use on the Workshop.

    The only way mod creators win in this is that their mods get more exposure -- but why should they bother? Valve is getting into territory where, frankly, they don't belong.
  • Si_W
    I have no problem with this. There will inevitably be teething problems and some modders will not want to charge for their work. But there will be those who wouldn't mind some compensation for their hard work and dedication to give extra playability to a popular game like Skyrim.

    It may bring in some real quality checks for those who provide mods as not all are that useful or work well. It could also encourage other to give it a go and provide some really ambitious mods that stretch the game to the limit.

    As an example, I would have paid for the Falskaar mod as I feel a mod that quality deserves some compensation for the time and effort.

    Paying for Beyond Skyrim might actually encourage them to finish the project instead of going on for an undefined period of time that is just getting rather stupid now. Elder Scrolls X will be out at this rate before they finish.

    There is, of course, the issue of copyright and ensuring all contributors including the developers and publishers are paid, but that will all come out in the wash.
  • Victor Ren
    I like the donations aspect of giving back to the mods. I agree, and I think a lot of other people do also. I think that Valve is going a bit far. and a lot of creators who actually don't care about modding, will try to create something to make an extra buck. It could saturate up the mod market.
  • Victor Ren
    It depends on the person, some people will take the money and leave and give you what's left, and some people will finish it because these mods aren't classified as full on projects. There are mods that do seem worth a couple of dollars and Falskaar would be one of them.
  • Si_W
    Steam forums will soon root those people out. Also ratings systems will help in terms of quality.

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