There are a lot of people who aren't happy about Steam's introduction of paid mods. Garry Newman, the creator of Garry's Mod, doesn't see a problem with the feature, though.
As Newman points out on his blog, his support of paid mods isn't all that surprising. He first released Garry's Mod as a free Half-Life 2 mod before relaunching it as a standalone, premium product. This allowed him to create Facepunch Studios and work on Rust and other games.
"I sold a mod once and everyone was angry that it was happening, until it happened and they got a much better product than they’d have gotten when it was released for free, then they seemed to calm down a bit. It has given me a career for 10 years. It’s bought me two houses, a bunch of cars. It’s created a company that has hired 30+ people."
Many of the complaints about Steam's premium mods center around quality. Consumers say that it's going to lead to the Steam Workshop being flooded with poor-quality mods by people looking for a quick and easy buck. Newman thinks that the free market will sort out that problem on its own, though.
"Some stuff won’t be worth charging for. Some people won’t want paying for their stuff. If a mod takes 10 seconds to make and someone wants to charge $10 for it then they won’t sell any copies because it’s not worth it. This is how the market balances itself. They’ll either have to lower their price or make it worth the price."
Another big concern about paid mods is that the potential profits encourage stealing among the mod community. For example, one of the first premium mods for Skyrim was removed following allegations that the creator stole assets from another mod for the game. Newman believes that this misbehavior isn't a good enough reason to remove paid mods from Steam altogether, though:
I’ve said it a million times – If “people are assholes on the internet” was a reason not to do something then we’d never do anything
Newman was a little more blunt about this point on Twitter:
"People already sell their mods for Garry’s Mod privately. Doesn’t it make sense that we bring that into Steam so those transactions can be trusted by both parties? Obviously it’s going to be hard to convince those guys to move their mods to Steam and lose 75% of their profits, but we’ll see what wiggle room we have on that."
I get why Newman would be in favor of Steam formalizing the sale of mods. Selling Garry's Mod has allowed him to create his own studio and develop several games of his own. The best argument in paid Steam mods' favor is that they enable modders to get financial rewards for their time investment. It potentially helps them become professional developers in time as well.
He might be right in saying that some of the early problems will be sorted out over time, too. This feature is bound to be undergo changes based on these early days. What bugs me, though, is that Steam users and modders are going to bear the cost of these growing pains. How many broken or fake mods will customers buy before Valve decides to curate the Workshop more closely or expand refunds past their current 24-hour limit? How much money will honest modders miss out on because someone stole their work and sold it or because the developer and Valve are taking 75% of the pie?