The Implosion of the Games Modding Scene

A fortnight ago Valve announced that they would be bringing paid Skyrim mods to the Steam Workshop environment.

The public backlash was fierce and UGLY. Thousands flooded the forums of the Skyrim Workshop with strong opposition to a variety of issues presented by the business model. Angry modders and users hurled snowballs at Valve and Bethesda. Some targetted mod creators who "sold out" on the community. Everyone knew change was coming. There was no way the modding scene won't be changed from this event. Unfortunately the seeds of chaos had already been sown, and even as Valve/Bethesda motioned to back pedal out of the business model and refund all sales, they had already set their users and content creators on fire. The modding scene is damaged beyond repair.

I'll be staying well away from any game forums with modding for a while. On one hand I love developing custom game mods and assets, on the other, it feels like a lot of effort for even more trouble. This online drama has forced me to review my own involvement in modding and I simply have better things to do. That's the most direct explanation.

Below are my mods for Void Expanse. I yanked them off Steam Workshop in protest and the comments on the Void Expanse forums make me cringe. The views are not unreasonable, but after reading the thread it does't motivate me to do a darn thing about it. I saved the main comments here, here and here.

What I did indeed punishes the user as the mods are required to load the game. By yanking the mods offline, Steam automatically removes the mod files from the subscriber's cloud directory. There are methods to backup the subscribed content, but many users are not savvy to those details. An inherent risk of modding is that things will break at any given time with no cause. You're willing to shell out money for software that could break at any time? Valve's system of monetising mods has no vetting process and does not issue refunds. It would never work in its present state.

The system Valve put into play was flawed, and needed a lot of changes if it was ever going to work. The intentions were good and was built upon the foundations of rewarding content creators with a share of the financial sales.

The simple fact is that some indie game artists and modders do benefit from a paid modding environment, and even the most popular modders in Skyrim do not get many donations from the community it supports. The majority of modders eventually burn out and move on because there is no financial incentive to keep going.

Valve and Bethesda tried to present a system to reward indie game artists and modders with their content, but they got too greedy. Valve/Betheday decided on a 3:1 ratio so the mod creator would only get 25% of any sales. With this action they any good will as a result of the business model from mod creators, and the support of consumers.

So what we have left now is a divide of the modding scene. Some don't want anything to do with paid mods and are abandoning Steam workshop. Others are angry with their peers for forcing paid mods off Steam workshop.

Mod creators make up less than 1% of the gaming community and is exclusively a PC platform only experience. A storm in a teacup so to speak, but the trail of destruction caused by the shitstorm (blame falls squarely on Valve & Bethesda) will forever be seared into the minds of PC gamers everywhere.

drama, steam, valve, workshop, paid mods, bethesda, skyrim