Amidst the recent controversy surrounding paid mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, both Valve and Bethesda have issued statements justifying their recent decision to remove them from Steam Workshop.
Valve were the first to open up communications, stating the following on their blog:
“We’re going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop, for anyone who spent money on a mod, we’ll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree. We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing. We’ve been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they’ve been received well. It’s obvious now that this case is different.”
Not only has Valve promised to supply refunds for all those who spent money on the mods, but they also went on to explain what their goals were in the first place.
“Our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.”
Bethesda also took to their blog in order to explain the change in circumstances, surprisingly, mere hours after posting a statement describing the reasoning behind introducing the disputed mods.
“After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop, even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.”
It should also be noted that a number of people suggested the whole system was just a money making scheme for the publisher, feeling that the 25% developers received for their content was unfair. However, Bethesda responded with the following statement:
“Some modders [are] making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited. This is not some money grabbing scheme by us. Even this weekend, when Skyrim was free for all, mod sales represented less than one per cent of our Steam revenue. More games are coming to Paid Mods on Steam soon, and many will be at 25 per cent, and many won’t. We’ll figure out over time what feels right for us and our community. If it needs to change, we’ll change it.”
Despite the proclaimed good intentions of the original initiative, it was clear from the start that members of the mod community were not impressed. Not only did creators use Steam Workshop itself to protest against the mods, but they also started a petition rallying against the newly enforced payroll, which amounted to over 130,000 signatures before reaching its goal.
It seems that the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim modding community just wasn’t ready to make the jump from free to paid, or at least not the way Valve and Bethesda had planned. Despite this, it seems almost certain that Valve will experiment with paid mods again.
What do you think though? Are paid mods the future for upcoming developers? Or is the idea of free content too embedded in mod communities for it to ever reach its full potential? Sound off below!