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Author Topic: Mods For Sale  (Read 5188 times)
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~Va^^pyrA~
 

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« on: 2015-04-27, 23:50 »

In case anyone has managed to avoid the most recent internet kerfuffle, Valve and Bethesda have offered independent mod makers a way to sell and profit from their work on the Steam Workshop. The decision has been met with a seemingly hostile reaction from fans, and little to no damage control from Valve or Bethesda. Since this is a long running forum for a fairly large mod, I thought the discussion could be pretty interesting.

For me personally, the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It seems to have taken what has traditionally been a huge strength of PC gaming and sloppily monetized it. Where once we had people coming together to change and improve games simply for their love of the hobby, now I expect little more than quick cash ins and shovelware, just like we see on the mobile app stores. We probably won't see as many fun, goofy, or experimental mods because developers will instead be coding for mass appeal. It'll be the mod equivalent of the endless, annual game squeals we see currently. Furthermore, it frightens me that the very future of free and open modding may be coming to an end. If once person is getting paid for their work, won't everyone else also feel entitled to similar compensation? Isn't this exactly what happened as paid DLC was slowly introduced into gaming in lieu of free patches and content updates?

A lot of the counter argument seems to be that these modders have invested their time and effort into a product and thus deserve compensation. While I don't believe that compensation is necessarily deserved, I am not against it. These are essentially passion projects and profit shouldn't be the goal. Many have proposed that perhaps a "Donate" button would be better, and I don't disagree. The mods could remain open and free whilst allowing their creators to see some form or reimbursement from those are true fans of their work. If nothing else, it couldn't be worse for the developer's than the 25% cut Valve and Bethesda seem to be offering for doing almost 100% of the leg work.

I haven't seen it offered up much as a concern, but it also strikes me that something like Skyrim presents a lot of compatibility problems as well. Unless you're careful in your selection of mods, installation order, load order, etc, you can quite quickly crash your game. Bethesda games easily become (even more) unstable as you load them up with mods. So is Bethesda, once profiting off of said mods, going to offer any sort of quality control? Are they going to vet each upload, cross check it against other mods for compatibility issues, offer patches to maintain compatibility after each game update, etc? I doubt it, because then this wouldn't be easy money.

The most direct comparison I can think of to this is the original Sims game. It had an absolutely huge modding community. It was admittedly almost all recolors of existing items, but custom skins and models weren't fully absent. I recall that after a few successful expansion packs, some of the bigger modders decided to put their websites behind pay walls. I don't know how well it worked out for them, but I never downloaded anything from them afterward, not even the promotional freebies they'd occasionally throw out. The very idea of violating such an open and community driven space was absolutely distasteful to me. In the following years, I watched as EA essentially integrated the modding community right into the sequel's store front. It didn't take long before they bullied and buried the old school modders out of the space and started selling little trinkets and virtual house items ala carte. It turned the entire game into one big store front for micro transactions. It was one of the larger nails in the franchise's coffin for me. It's absolutely not something I want to see happen elsewhere, especially when it already seems as though modding is far less prevalent than it once was, largely in part because developers deliberately withhold the tools which would compete with their Day One DLC and Paid Bug Fixes.

TLDNR: I am personally opposed to profiteering from mods in this way. It feels as if it goes against the unspoken spirit of the various communities that spring up around these games. I'm not opposed to people freely showing support for modders' efforts. Even if I thought all mods should be paid for, it still seems as if modders are getting an awfully raw deal from Valve and Bethesda.

Edit: It looks like Valve has removed the "feature" and issued refunds to anyone who actually purchased a mod. I'm still interested in others thoughts on the matter, though. I figure there just so happen to be some modders here that harken from an older era of community involvement.
« Last Edit: 2015-04-28, 00:58 by ~Va^^pyrA~ » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: 2015-04-28, 18:37 »

For me personally, the whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It seems to have taken what has traditionally been a huge strength of PC gaming and sloppily monetized it.
That was my take.

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A lot of the counter argument seems to be that these modders have invested their time and effort into a product and thus deserve compensation.
Your stance on this pretty much mirrors mine.  Donate button?  Great.  Being forced to pay to buy mods?  No.  That just turns mods into DLC that the companies have zero investment in and the modders get shafted for their work.  If any mods were turned into DLC I would only be comfortable if the modder got 90% of the money and Steam, Valve, whoever got 10% - otherwise it's a lot of work by gullible people looking for some kind of return on their work, and then they're screwed down the road.  Keeping it free and keeping modding a labor of love - that's the best course of action as far as I'm concerned.  Gamers making stuff because they love the game and have an idea they really want to put together - NOT because they're looking for profit.  The payoff for modding has always been that you get to create something, share it with others, have fun doing both, and learn a lot of interesting skills along the way.  Do some modders get hired into the gaming industry?  Sure.  Does everyone make a career like Graeme Devine or LevelLord?  No.  Does every mod hit Counter-Strike or CPMA popularity?  Of course not.  That's just how the world works.  Turning it into a cash grab is definitely not going to help the modding community.  To me, it would destroy it.

Now I do draw a comparison between something like a mod and a mission pack.  I'm all for mission packs or large expansion packs, like The Reckoning or Ground Zero for Quake 2, where you have basically a whole new game based on the original with the addition of enemies, weapons, items, etc.  I've never minded paying for those because it's more than just "Oh look, this shotgun fires rainbow confetti!  Buy it for $5.00 and you too can be 20% cooler!"  Huge difference.

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The very idea of violating such an open and community driven space was absolutely distasteful to me. In the following years, I watched as EA essentially integrated the modding community right into the sequel's store front. It didn't take long before they bullied and buried the old school modders out of the space and started selling little trinkets and virtual house items ala carte. It turned the entire game into one big store front for micro transactions.
Not having played the Sims, I can offer a comparison and that's what Valve has done with Team Fortress 2.  What started out as a Quake 1 mod and eventually became a Half-Life mod became a retail game that was simple in concept yet difficult to master, required strategy and teamwork yet rewarded individual achievement, and had a unique visual style and personality.  Then came the alternate weapons.  It seemed like an OK concept... if only it had stopped there.  What followed were hats, crates, hats, keys, hats, weapons that make absolutely no sense or are gamebreaking, oh, and did I mention hats?  Sure, you can play for that random unlock, or trade it with someone, but why not just BUY it and then you don't have to wait or trade?  The whole Mann Co. store is microtransaction heaven for Valve, and what's the result?  Valve still can't count to 3 because they're too busy counting their money, the original gameplay of Team Fortress 2 is ruined for those of us that liked the game as it was out-of-the-box (they refuse to put a "clean" or "vanilla" mode in place) and you end up with crap like this:



That is a trend I do NOT want to see continue.


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Edit: It looks like Valve has removed the "feature" and issued refunds to anyone who actually purchased a mod. I'm still interested in others thoughts on the matter, though. I figure there just so happen to be some modders here that harken from an older era of community involvement.
I was one that spoke out against it.  I've been playing modded games since WolfEdit, wrote my own DehackEd scripts for Doom and Doom 2, played Rocket Arena 2 and Lithium 2 heavily for Quake 2, Released my first mod work as the Doom Unleashed model pack for Quake 2 (The real credit goes to the original Generations Q2 team for the content - I just reworked it for Doom Unleashed) and of course have been working on Generations Arena since Quake 3 was released... as most probably know on that last part.  I'm hella glad they woke up and canned this idea.  We really don't need Valve becoming EA.  Now if only they'll find that crowbar they seem to have misplaced...
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« Reply #2 on: 2015-04-29, 14:51 »

Not having played the Sims, I can offer a comparison and that's what Valve has done with Team Fortress 2.  What started out as a Quake 1 mod and eventually became a Half-Life mod became a retail game that was simple in concept yet difficult to master, required strategy and teamwork yet rewarded individual achievement, and had a unique visual style and personality.
Psh... I remember seeing TFC and CS boxes in stores and being all like, "Wait.. what?" Course, I always disliked TFC so I never actually followed up on looking into that (like if it was still available as a free mod online), but I do remember it. So selling mods isn't new to them.

And yes, TF2 started to disintegrate when they introduced hats. At first it seemed like they were just going to give each class a small little fun weapon selection.. but then th-- no, that's off-topic and I could rant for hours because TF2 used to be a blast.


But yea, I agree. If they went through with that, the entire concept of what modding was (and is) would be gone.
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« Reply #3 on: 2016-03-02, 15:27 »

I must say now that they have dipped there toe in the water they will probably try again...
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« Reply #4 on: 2016-03-03, 05:29 »

I have no doubt about that, Orbital. I imagine it will materialize in a much slower way, though, so as to not attract such backlash.
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