Valve have today introduced a fascinating new feature that allows creators to sell their game mods via the Steam Workshop. They can even create bundles and offer discounts, or just offer up their work for free. The very first game to offer up paid mods is none other than the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. At the moment there’s not a lot of paid stuff on offer for the game. The excellent Falskaar mod, though, remains completely free.
The ability to sell mods via the Workshop will only be available if the developers/publishers enable the option. Furthermore there’s a 24-hour refund policy in place in case,”you discover that a mod does not work for you, or does not meet your expectations based on the description of the mod.”
“We think this is a great opportunity to help support the incredible creative work being done by mod makers in the Steam Workshop,” says Tom Bui at Valve. “User generated content is an increasingly significant component of many games, and opening new avenues to help financially support those contributors via Steam Workshop will help drive the level of UGC to new heights.”
It’s a strange situation. On the one hand there’s some outstanding mods out there that rival what the developers themselves are capable of, and in some ways even surpass it. On the other hand the system is liable to create a landslide of poorly made tat akin to the horrendous barrage of Early Access titles we face on a weekly basis that have clearly been tossed together in the hopes of making a few bob.
The option has been included for mod creators to allow players to pay whatever they like, too. The official guide page states:
“As creator of your Workshop submission, you get to set the price. You can specify a set price or choose to sell as pay-what-you-want and let the customer decide how much to pay.”
Whatever the price you ask, Valve will take 75% of it, and then the developer of the original game for which the mod was built will also get a slice.
Personally, simply enabling a donate button or just allowing purchasers to pay what they want seem like potentially better options than allowing creators to set static prices. However, hopefully I’m entirely wrong and we’ll see plenty of quality content at fair prices.
As for the Steam users, most of them appear to be entirely unhappy with the move.