Yesterday, Steam announced that it will offer paid items through its modding hub, Steam Workshop. From now on, the creators of mods for certain games will have the option to choose one of three categories for their content: fixed price, donation or free. This announcement was not received favorably by Steam users.
The mod creator will only receive 25 percent of what the mod is sold for, with the lion’s share being divided between Valve and the game’s publisher. Also, the payment can only be made to a bank account and once the total amount is higher than $100 via Electronic Funds Transfer which, in my experience, costs $25 per transaction and takes five business days. Mod purchases can be refunded, but only within 24 hours after the initial purchase has been made, and all such refunds can go only to the buyer’s Steam Wallet. Payments are sent to mod creators by using WorldPay,
Currently, paid mods are available only for Skyrim, since the game creator must give permission for sale of the mods for its game. There are 18 paid Skyrim mods at this moment, with the total value of 38€, available in a bundle priced at 25€, compared to almost 15,000 free mods. One more interesting thing found in the related FAQ is that Valve encourages mod creators to spam DMCA copyright claims whenever they see someone else using a part of their mod.
Mods have always been extremely useful in prolonging the lifespan of games. Trying to forcefully monetize them has never worked in the past and it won’t work now. This decision also shows that Valve has truly gone corporate. Valve wants to exploit the dominant position it holds in the digital distribution market and is starting to push its luck in milking the users for whatever they can. The Hatred incident was the first sign that something is wrong and now we have free mods turned into DLC, with the majority of profits going to the publisher and Valve, rather than the mod creator. What’s next?