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Yesterday, Valve unveiled a plan that immediately stirred up controversy within the PC gaming community; Mod developers now have the ability to sell their creations on Steam.
The Steam Workshop is Valve's hub for player-created paraphernalia. It gives aspiring developers an outlet for their creations and ensures a never-ending stream of new weapons, mods, and hats. And until yesterday, all of those items were distributed gratis.
According to a post on the Steam Workshop’s homepage, Valve wanted to create a financial support structure for creatives within the community. So, the company adjusted its billing policies to give mod developers a new stream of revenue. Now, if a modder wants to cash in on his or her creation, it only takes a few keystrokes to move the files behind a paywall.
Here’s how Valve describes it:
If you've been using the Steam Workshop, you already know how much incredible content is available for many of your favorite games. By paying for mods and supporting the people that made them, you enable those artists and creators to continue working on their mods and inspire new modders to try their hand in creating new, higher quality items and experiences.
Right now, the service is only available for Skyrim modders, but Valve intends to incorporate other Workshop titles “in the coming weeks.” Though, given the community’s reaction, it wouldn’t surprise me if Valve tweaks its plans.
The backlash was immediate. Within a few hours, social media networks were inundated with complaints, and many gamers added their signatures to a Change.org petition, which asks Valve to drop the paywall. So far, over 70,000 gamers have signed, and that number grows every time I refresh the page.
For many gamers, giving modders the ability to turn their creations into cash undermines the spirit of the community. And the collaborative nature of modding could start to erode as developers begin to see it as a money-making venture instead of a labor of love. Plus, and this is probably the most important point, it gives unscrupulous folk the ability to steal mods, upload them, and profit from another modder’s hard work.
Obviously the system is less than 24 hours old, so its difficult to predict how it’ll affect the community. On one hand, throwing a wrench into an already established system often leads to a breakdown. On the other hand, some of these mods take years to complete, and it’d be nice to see the talented developers get a little support.
Where do you stand? Let us know in the comments.