Author Topic: To pay or not to pay...  (Read 865 times)

Offline Starfox

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To pay or not to pay...
« on: April 29, 2015, 04:35:02 PM »
Well there was an interesting debate (more like a war) over a new feature on Steam, the ability for mod authors to make people pay for their mods. Originally it was only introduced for Skyrim as the basic idea behind the whole paying thing was Bethesda's. Then a few thousands posts of angry users later, the option was entirely removed. Here's what Bethesda has to say about the thing... Interesting reading (and possibly the longest blog entry from Bethesda in a loooong time).

However some of Beth assumptions ring hollow. One, pricing something does not automatically mean making it better. In fact, the recent years proved quite the opposite with an host of self-professed developers issuing quickly wrapped games to make a quick buck as soon as they had the way to do it (with software like RPG Maker which is possibly one of the worst thing that could happen to gaming because with that kind of software every basic Joe sees himself as a great development studio, doesn't matter if the end result seems to come right from the 80's). I acknowledge however that a lot of modders actually deserve a pay... some provided even better work than the companies issuing the games in the first place but for some reasons the donation system is not exactly working (true fact: offer the choice to someone to pay for something or to not pay, chances are that option 2 will be chosen).

Does that mean that a paying system should be enforced... there's several problems there. The biggest of them being that the system as it was proposed these last weeks would have fractured the modding community (one of the reason I guess why Bethesda quickly changed its tune because they -- especially them -- cannot afford to upset the modding community, either the modders or the users). And then making users pay for mods is technically illegal according to Bethesda and Valve own end-user licences. But there they go and without changing a word to their licenses they offer modders to win money with the mod they create. So OK, Bethesda owns the game so they can decide whatever they want to do with it but the whole thing always appeared fishy to me because such as it is, that meant the mods could only be sold via Steam (any other distribution channel would still be illegal). Plus there's the big problem for end-users... how do you know that a mod is worth paying for without testing it? Of all the mods I tried for Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3 and NV, not mentioning Half-Life, etc.  I only really use maybe 5%. The others, I tried them and rejected them because either they were not to my taste or did not meet my needs or because they were just crappy.

Only 8% of the Skyrim audience has ever used a mod. Less than 1% has ever made one.

This quote from Bethesda is weird. Even if their numbers are correct, what makes them think that making people pay for mods will bring them more users? For a start most people won't mod their game unless they feel it can be enhanced in some way (if they don't find a mod that they feel they can't go without, why would they download random mods? Unless of course you're like Silver and like to break your game in multiple ways :lol:). A lot of people never mod games at all because they think it goes against the spirit of what the developers intended (those ones can't be brought in the fold, period, even less if you want to make them pay for it). As for developers, not everyone can qualify as one. A lot of people that would like to do something are simply scared as soon as they launch the Construction Set (sorry guys but your tools are less friendly than you seem to think; they definitely not give the "hey come on everybody can do it" vibe). Myself I developed some little things for a lot of Bethesda productions and for my own amusement but I deem none of them of sufficient quality to distribute and even less to sell. And I also know modders that wouldn't want to make people pay for their mods because with payment comes responsibilities and the loss of a certain freedom. Simply put, if a modder with a free mod want to stop supporting it tomorrow, no problem and no one (except for a bunch of lowlifes) can come and harass them because of that. But when people pay for something it's another tune. Leaving isn't so easy anymore unless you want to convey a "Sorry suckers, I took your money but now you're on your own" feeling and that's the kind of feeling customers remember a very long time.

So no, seriously I don't think that making people pay for mods would enhance the current situation. First that would certainly not augment the number of users and I don't even think that would augment the number of modders at least not the good ones (arguably there would be a sudden increase of low quality mods designed to make a quick buck by people who really don't care about modding, just about the money it can generate).

So currently back to square one... Donation is the only viable way to support your favorite modders.

Plus, some of the most prominent modders have a dream, to make money working for a big studio; in fact some just mod so their talent can be noticed by a big studio... So there Bethesda, you have a reward all ready to go...
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 09:49:55 AM by Starfox »

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Offline bobdog

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Re: To pay or not to pay...
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 08:10:55 PM »
One of the biggest issues I saw was that many Skyrim modders use other modders' work as a base for their own. So if modder #2 were to sell a product, what does that mean for modder #1? Someone will be getting screwed.

I think Valve misunderstood how different the already strongly established modding community for the TES games are, versus something like DOTA and Team Fortress 2.