Paid Mods

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Offline rBST Cow

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Paid Mods
« on: April 25, 2015, 04:47:32 PM »
Something terrible is happening in the gaming industry. Something that will literally rip apart communities. Paying for mods. That's right everyone, paying for mods. Mods are something that put PC's ahead of consoles ten times over just by itself. Mods are something that keep games alive for /years/ after they were already released and should have been dead. Mods are the beating heart of the PC gaming community, but that is all at stake here and today.


PC Gaming as a whole is on the line everyone, and we must do everything to ensure that it lives on. Skyrim use to have a 98% positive rating on Steam, and now it's at 92% and dropping fast. Out of the millions of people that have Skyrim, we were already to effect the ratings by 6% in less than 2 days. Don't believe it's just a "drop in the bucket", because it's not. Steam has also began silencing people who are speaking out against it by removing the ratings for paid mods and comments that are against it. We MUST band together and show Valve and Bethesda that we will not allow this. I myself will fight this to the bitter end.

Please, sign the petition: https://www.change.org/p/valve-remove-the-paid-content-of-the-steam-workshop
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Offline Teitoku Ippan

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Re: Paid Mods
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2015, 05:18:04 PM »
garry's mod

Offline Hazard Time

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Re: Paid Mods
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2015, 11:52:41 PM »
So here's something I found on tumblr, written by someone with common sense (An oxymoron, for sure):

Quote
For those of you not in the know, here are the facts.  Valve and Bethesda have teamed up to allow mod creators on Skyrim’s Steam Workshop to charge money for their mods.  It can be a little as $0.99 or as much as $99.  However, the mod makers don’t get the full amount.  Rather, because these are mods of Bethesda’s licensed IP, and hosted on Valve’s distribution platform, the mod makers receive 25% of the profits.  The rest is divided between Valve and Bethesda.  Additionally, the mod makers won’t see any of the cash until the mod’s earned at least $100, which is $400 in sales.  There are some other features, like a 24hr refund policy if a mod user finds the mod has broken their game, but what I listed above is the gist of the situation, and several known modders have already released new versions of their mods or entirely new mods on the Workshop as part of the initial launch of the new system.
The response from the modding community has been… volatile, to put it lightly.
It’s honestly not a surprise that Valve, Bethesda, and even some of the mod makers are on the receiving end of quite a nasty bit of backlash; some mod makers more so than others, but I’ll talk about that later.  What Valve and Bethesda have done here, while in principle being a good concept, has grossly overstepped the boundaries players and modders alike are used to, and it comes across as extremely exploitative, if not downright malicious, considering they’re taking a combined 75% of the profits.
Firstly, slapping a purchase price on a mod is more than just a little unorthodox, it’s, in my opinion, impractical on its own.   Mods are never guaranteed to play nice with your game.  As someone who has modded Skyrim extensively (181 active mods and as many as 200 sometimes), mods can cause all kinds of hiccups and gripes in a game, even when you follow the instructions to the letter and take all the steps to make sure they’re compatible.  Sometimes, a problem with a mod may not show up for days or weeks of play, or may only fail under very specific circumstances.  Requiring people to pay a price for a mod is therefore not only risky for the gamer’s save files, it might be risky to their wallets, too.  Even a dollar-priced mod, if it fails beyond the first 24hrs, is a dollar _lost_ for that gamer, which is not something the modding community has had to deal with before.

Secondly, paying for mods flies in the face of the community-driven model that modders and gamers, especially in Bethesda game community, have been operating under… well forever.  Some creators have done nothing but create new assets or resource packs explicitly for other modders to use in their own creations.  Two of the most prolific examples of this are SkySE and SkyUI.  SkySE is a coding framework that unlocks a wide range of additional scripting functions for modders to tap into with their mods.  SkyUI is a User Interface replacement and framework, and its primary features require the use of SkySE in order to function.  One of the mods widely used SkyUI feature is the MCM, the Mod Configuration Menu.  The MCM allows modders to create easy-to-use configuration interfaces for their mods inside the game, so players can adjust mod settings on the fly.  Almost all of the mods I use that aren’t strictly animation/texture/model replacers use the MCM.  Beyond that, many mods are inter-dependent on other mods, or feature designed compatibility.  So most mods depend on the MCM, which is part of SkyUI, which depends on SkySE.  When everything is free-to-use, it’s not a problem.  But once money gets involved… legalities get really fuzzy.  Which brings me to the third point.

Permissions.  Because of how inter-dependent and open the modding community is, everything being free lent itself to very few conflicts.  So long as you got the creator’s permission, you could use whatever assets and coding you wanted in your own mod creations.  With the introduction of money into the system… there’s a very real fear of assets being used for profit, and the asset creators never seeing a penny of it.  There’s also the fear of outright theft, re-uploading for profit, or even more ironically, pirating of mods already up behind the ‘pay wall’.  To many gamers and even many modders, charging for mods violates the spirit of the cooperative modding community.  Texture makers and 3D modelers, voice actors and writers, animators… anyone who has created new assets for the game are now at risk of having someone use their work not only uncredited, which was always a risk, but also for profit without their consent or knowledge.

Now, the modders that have taken the jump and have uploaded their mods for sale on the new system have had various reasons and explanations for why, ranging from ‘why not?’ to open letters to the community… once their Valve-enforced NDAs expired.  I personally understand where most of them are coming from.  Mods, especially the deep mechanical changes, the huge retexturing projects, the DLC-sized adventures, the carefully written and voice-acted NPCs and companions, all these mods and more require a huge investment of time and sometimes money to create and maintain.  That the mod creators want some compensation for their work is not a radical concept.  It’s actually quite logical.  However, what Valve/Bethesda have done here has blindsided both creators and users with a poorly executed paradigm shift that neither was ready for, and some mod creators have fared better than others when it comes to the backlash they’re getting from what used to be a very loyal and supportive community.
I’m going to use two specific modders as examples, though to spare them from any further vitriol, which they’ve both gotten plenty of, I’m going to refer to them as  Modder A and Modder B.  People who mod Skyrim extensively will know of whom I speak, but I don’t feel the need to throw fuel onto the fire.

Modder A has been a fixture of the community for a long time, and is known for making a long list of quality and widely-used mods that introduce brand new gameplay options into the game, and has dominated a particular kind of immersive mod for years now.  Modder A’s first mods behind the new paywall were the latest version of a mod he’s been helping maintain with another mod maker, a joint venture they both agreed to, and unique new mod.  As soon as the NDA he had with Valve expired, he made a statement to the community explaining his reasoning, and making it explicitly clear that everything he uploaded behind the ‘pay wall’ would become free to download on the Skyrim Mod Nexus after a certain length of time.  He was, in effect, giving players the option to pay for access to the latest version of this and all future mods he releases there, or just wait for those versions to eventually make their way back to the Nexus for free.  He also promised that all his mods would use the new system’s ‘pay what you want’ option, which sets a minimum of $0.99, but allows the purchaser to pay more at their own discretion.  This transparent letter earned back the loyalty of most of his fans and the community at large.  However, he voluntarily took down his new mod when one of the situations I talked about above happened.  A creator whose animations he used in the mod, with proper credit, took issue with his animations being used for profit.  Modder A has since said he’s been burned by Valve and has pulled all his content off the Steam Workshop.  All of it.

Modder B was really excited about the latest iterations of his two major mods, and spent a lot of time talking about the new features and upgrades.  However, due to Valve and Bethesda’s poor choice to enforce an NDA on all the modders being featured in the first batch, Modder B was unable to explain that the new versions were going to be put up behind the new ‘pay wall’.  When the news broke and the news went live, Modder B faced the same kind of backlash as Modder A.  However, instead of clarifying anything, Modder B was silent for much longer than Modder A, before making a very small and hard-to-find explanation that he, too, was going to operate under the timed exclusivity policy.  Modder B’s mods are still up on the Workshop, but recently one of them has come under fire for what I imagine is something similar to what Modder A faced with his one mod.  The results of that situation have not been determined yet.  However, due to the longer silence, the quieter response to critics, and the large amount of hype that had been generated around the latest versions of the mods, the community is much less forgiving of Modder B.
A lot of players feel betrayed by the modders who are choosing to sell their mods.  The modders that are keeping their content free feel the modders who are selling their mods are ruining and complicating what was once a simple idea.  If it sounds like I’m blaming those modders for wanting to sell their mods, I’m not.  I understand what they want and how they feel about it.  I blame Steam and Bethesda for what has happened.  What was once a strong and unified community has been fractured in less then 48 hours by a shoddy, poorly implemented, and foolishly secretive system.  I don’t think either company understood the complications they were going to end up creating with the system, nor how being so secretive about would magnify and galvanize strong and vocal opposition the whole idea.

It’s similar to what Microsoft tried to do with the XBOX One originally, with their massive push towards pure digital distribution.  Objectively, the idea was not a bad one, and I respect what Microsoft was trying to do with the system, but the announcement blindsided the console community with paradigm shift they weren’t prepared for, and the inevitable backlash forced them to back off their plans for the system, and lost them a large part of the console market in the process.

It’s a case of companies trying to improve the lives of their users without understanding the ramifications of the changes they’re trying to implement will have.  Or it’s a case of greed gone amok.  Either situation yields the same result, and I’m not in a position to comment on the motivations behind Valve and Bethesda’s decision.  I am however in a position to say that it was a bad move for a long list of reasons, the very basics of which I’ve covered in this article.  It has forced a lot of hands, and even the Nexus site has had to implement a set of new changes to help protect modders from exploitation and give them new ways to make it clear how people can use their mods, as well as planning a more prominent donation system to give users a more visible reminder that modders are people too, and donations can go a long way to help.
I happened to have stopped using the Steam Workshop for my Skyrim mods about a month ago, well before this problem started, and I have no intention to return and use it, especially with the system they’ve put into place and at least one modder getting into a spat with Valve itself.  Its goal is noble on the surface, but it’s already done far too much damage to deserve my support, and I would encourage any current mod users and potential mod creators to instead make use of the Skyrim Mod Nexus site and donate to the mod creators there, not to punish the modders that are using the Workshop, but to send the message to Valve and Bethesda that this system they’ve created is too flawed to be functional.

Offline rBST Cow

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Re: Paid Mods
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2015, 04:05:28 AM »
So here's something I found on tumblr, written by someone with common sense (An oxymoron, for sure):

Quote
For those of you not in the know, here are the facts.  Valve and Bethesda have teamed up to allow mod creators on Skyrim’s Steam Workshop to charge money for their mods.  It can be a little as $0.99 or as much as $99.  However, the mod makers don’t get the full amount.  Rather, because these are mods of Bethesda’s licensed IP, and hosted on Valve’s distribution platform, the mod makers receive 25% of the profits.  The rest is divided between Valve and Bethesda.  Additionally, the mod makers won’t see any of the cash until the mod’s earned at least $100, which is $400 in sales.  There are some other features, like a 24hr refund policy if a mod user finds the mod has broken their game, but what I listed above is the gist of the situation, and several known modders have already released new versions of their mods or entirely new mods on the Workshop as part of the initial launch of the new system.
The response from the modding community has been… volatile, to put it lightly.
It’s honestly not a surprise that Valve, Bethesda, and even some of the mod makers are on the receiving end of quite a nasty bit of backlash; some mod makers more so than others, but I’ll talk about that later.  What Valve and Bethesda have done here, while in principle being a good concept, has grossly overstepped the boundaries players and modders alike are used to, and it comes across as extremely exploitative, if not downright malicious, considering they’re taking a combined 75% of the profits.
Firstly, slapping a purchase price on a mod is more than just a little unorthodox, it’s, in my opinion, impractical on its own.   Mods are never guaranteed to play nice with your game.  As someone who has modded Skyrim extensively (181 active mods and as many as 200 sometimes), mods can cause all kinds of hiccups and gripes in a game, even when you follow the instructions to the letter and take all the steps to make sure they’re compatible.  Sometimes, a problem with a mod may not show up for days or weeks of play, or may only fail under very specific circumstances.  Requiring people to pay a price for a mod is therefore not only risky for the gamer’s save files, it might be risky to their wallets, too.  Even a dollar-priced mod, if it fails beyond the first 24hrs, is a dollar _lost_ for that gamer, which is not something the modding community has had to deal with before.

Secondly, paying for mods flies in the face of the community-driven model that modders and gamers, especially in Bethesda game community, have been operating under… well forever.  Some creators have done nothing but create new assets or resource packs explicitly for other modders to use in their own creations.  Two of the most prolific examples of this are SkySE and SkyUI.  SkySE is a coding framework that unlocks a wide range of additional scripting functions for modders to tap into with their mods.  SkyUI is a User Interface replacement and framework, and its primary features require the use of SkySE in order to function.  One of the mods widely used SkyUI feature is the MCM, the Mod Configuration Menu.  The MCM allows modders to create easy-to-use configuration interfaces for their mods inside the game, so players can adjust mod settings on the fly.  Almost all of the mods I use that aren’t strictly animation/texture/model replacers use the MCM.  Beyond that, many mods are inter-dependent on other mods, or feature designed compatibility.  So most mods depend on the MCM, which is part of SkyUI, which depends on SkySE.  When everything is free-to-use, it’s not a problem.  But once money gets involved… legalities get really fuzzy.  Which brings me to the third point.

Permissions.  Because of how inter-dependent and open the modding community is, everything being free lent itself to very few conflicts.  So long as you got the creator’s permission, you could use whatever assets and coding you wanted in your own mod creations.  With the introduction of money into the system… there’s a very real fear of assets being used for profit, and the asset creators never seeing a penny of it.  There’s also the fear of outright theft, re-uploading for profit, or even more ironically, pirating of mods already up behind the ‘pay wall’.  To many gamers and even many modders, charging for mods violates the spirit of the cooperative modding community.  Texture makers and 3D modelers, voice actors and writers, animators… anyone who has created new assets for the game are now at risk of having someone use their work not only uncredited, which was always a risk, but also for profit without their consent or knowledge.

Now, the modders that have taken the jump and have uploaded their mods for sale on the new system have had various reasons and explanations for why, ranging from ‘why not?’ to open letters to the community… once their Valve-enforced NDAs expired.  I personally understand where most of them are coming from.  Mods, especially the deep mechanical changes, the huge retexturing projects, the DLC-sized adventures, the carefully written and voice-acted NPCs and companions, all these mods and more require a huge investment of time and sometimes money to create and maintain.  That the mod creators want some compensation for their work is not a radical concept.  It’s actually quite logical.  However, what Valve/Bethesda have done here has blindsided both creators and users with a poorly executed paradigm shift that neither was ready for, and some mod creators have fared better than others when it comes to the backlash they’re getting from what used to be a very loyal and supportive community.
I’m going to use two specific modders as examples, though to spare them from any further vitriol, which they’ve both gotten plenty of, I’m going to refer to them as  Modder A and Modder B.  People who mod Skyrim extensively will know of whom I speak, but I don’t feel the need to throw fuel onto the fire.

Modder A has been a fixture of the community for a long time, and is known for making a long list of quality and widely-used mods that introduce brand new gameplay options into the game, and has dominated a particular kind of immersive mod for years now.  Modder A’s first mods behind the new paywall were the latest version of a mod he’s been helping maintain with another mod maker, a joint venture they both agreed to, and unique new mod.  As soon as the NDA he had with Valve expired, he made a statement to the community explaining his reasoning, and making it explicitly clear that everything he uploaded behind the ‘pay wall’ would become free to download on the Skyrim Mod Nexus after a certain length of time.  He was, in effect, giving players the option to pay for access to the latest version of this and all future mods he releases there, or just wait for those versions to eventually make their way back to the Nexus for free.  He also promised that all his mods would use the new system’s ‘pay what you want’ option, which sets a minimum of $0.99, but allows the purchaser to pay more at their own discretion.  This transparent letter earned back the loyalty of most of his fans and the community at large.  However, he voluntarily took down his new mod when one of the situations I talked about above happened.  A creator whose animations he used in the mod, with proper credit, took issue with his animations being used for profit.  Modder A has since said he’s been burned by Valve and has pulled all his content off the Steam Workshop.  All of it.

Modder B was really excited about the latest iterations of his two major mods, and spent a lot of time talking about the new features and upgrades.  However, due to Valve and Bethesda’s poor choice to enforce an NDA on all the modders being featured in the first batch, Modder B was unable to explain that the new versions were going to be put up behind the new ‘pay wall’.  When the news broke and the news went live, Modder B faced the same kind of backlash as Modder A.  However, instead of clarifying anything, Modder B was silent for much longer than Modder A, before making a very small and hard-to-find explanation that he, too, was going to operate under the timed exclusivity policy.  Modder B’s mods are still up on the Workshop, but recently one of them has come under fire for what I imagine is something similar to what Modder A faced with his one mod.  The results of that situation have not been determined yet.  However, due to the longer silence, the quieter response to critics, and the large amount of hype that had been generated around the latest versions of the mods, the community is much less forgiving of Modder B.
A lot of players feel betrayed by the modders who are choosing to sell their mods.  The modders that are keeping their content free feel the modders who are selling their mods are ruining and complicating what was once a simple idea.  If it sounds like I’m blaming those modders for wanting to sell their mods, I’m not.  I understand what they want and how they feel about it.  I blame Steam and Bethesda for what has happened.  What was once a strong and unified community has been fractured in less then 48 hours by a shoddy, poorly implemented, and foolishly secretive system.  I don’t think either company understood the complications they were going to end up creating with the system, nor how being so secretive about would magnify and galvanize strong and vocal opposition the whole idea.

It’s similar to what Microsoft tried to do with the XBOX One originally, with their massive push towards pure digital distribution.  Objectively, the idea was not a bad one, and I respect what Microsoft was trying to do with the system, but the announcement blindsided the console community with paradigm shift they weren’t prepared for, and the inevitable backlash forced them to back off their plans for the system, and lost them a large part of the console market in the process.

It’s a case of companies trying to improve the lives of their users without understanding the ramifications of the changes they’re trying to implement will have.  Or it’s a case of greed gone amok.  Either situation yields the same result, and I’m not in a position to comment on the motivations behind Valve and Bethesda’s decision.  I am however in a position to say that it was a bad move for a long list of reasons, the very basics of which I’ve covered in this article.  It has forced a lot of hands, and even the Nexus site has had to implement a set of new changes to help protect modders from exploitation and give them new ways to make it clear how people can use their mods, as well as planning a more prominent donation system to give users a more visible reminder that modders are people too, and donations can go a long way to help.
I happened to have stopped using the Steam Workshop for my Skyrim mods about a month ago, well before this problem started, and I have no intention to return and use it, especially with the system they’ve put into place and at least one modder getting into a spat with Valve itself.  Its goal is noble on the surface, but it’s already done far too much damage to deserve my support, and I would encourage any current mod users and potential mod creators to instead make use of the Skyrim Mod Nexus site and donate to the mod creators there, not to punish the modders that are using the Workshop, but to send the message to Valve and Bethesda that this system they’ve created is too flawed to be functional.

Long read that brought up some good examples.

Me personally, the biggest problem I see is that modders have no obligation to finish the mod or continue it's development. If the game updates or the mod comes across a massive game breaking bug, there's nothing telling the modder "Hey, fix your mod!" Once they have your money, they have it. People have told me "Cow, if they are getting paid then why would they stop supporting it?" ARE YOU SERIOUS? HAVE YOU SEEN EARLY ACCESS ON STEAM AND ALL THE SHIT GAMES ON IT? Please, just stop. /Entire games/ get discontinued. Who cares if the modders get paid? They can still drop support when they feel like it and once they have your money, there's nothing you can do.

-Snip- So far it's not clear if mod piracy is legal or not since it's such a sticky legal situation to be in and no precedent court case has happened to go either way. (PS Im not a lawyer, take my shit with a grain of salt)
« Last Edit: April 26, 2015, 02:36:41 PM by [Rest In Peace Steam] Cow »
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Offline MCbryce0110

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Re: Paid Mods
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2015, 11:09:05 PM »
I saw this petition in a discussion about one of the Skyrim paid mods, I checked it out. It had been made 2 hours before and already had over 2k signatures. Now it has over 100k, It's official, people HATE paid mods.

 

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