Valve has turned, in one move, in one of the worst companies I know of. They turned the mod scene into a clandestine dog-fighting ring, where Steam is the shady owner of the ring who, along with the dogs’ owner, prods and pushes the dogs to fight each other to the death with the promise of a succulent steak and the threat of violence. And if that wasn’t bad enough he also gives the dogs some tips onto how best to cheat and kill their fellow dogs.
Grim, I know. But let’s deconstruct this metaphore and see how it applies to this Modding clusterfuck.
For those not in the known Steam has decided to start selling mods for Skyrim. As in, a bit like Team Fortress 2’s hats, mods can now sell their works on Steam, and it will extend to other games. In theory it’s a good idea. Modding is not exactly a light-effort endeavor and if people who give us things like Fallout New Vegas’ Project Nevada or the guys who plan to REMAKE MORROWIND IN THE SKYRIM ENGINE can now have something for their trouble, maybe even making a living out of it, I’m all for it.
But in practice it’s a dogfighting ring. First, because of the shares. Valve takes 30%, Bethesda takes 45% and the modder -you know, the guy who did all the work- takes 25%. Okay, first of all, Bethesda: you’re uncle Scrooge levels of greedy. For the simple fact that for someone to use a mod for one of your games on Steam they need to have bought your game on Steam. You’ve already got your share of the pie, now you want the smaller cupcakes of the little baker down the street.
Second, Valve. You’re the distribution platform. Makes sense for you to take a cut, I won’t deny it. But exactly because you’re the distribution platform, with a pseudo-monopoly in your market, you have the most contractual power here. You could have stopped this from happening all together. Instead you used that power to make it happen with these partitions of revenue, which leaves just crumbs to the people who created the product you’re selling. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg!
Then we have the little detail that to even see one penny, the Modder will have to reach 400$ in revenue. Not in sales, but in revenue. Which means that they will have to add 25% on top of 25% until they reach that amount. For someone who sells cosmetic mods at one dollar a piece, for example, that’ll possibly take years. We can’t all be selling 99$ Horse Genitals, here.
Moving on, there’s your always in-existent quality control. I mean, the front page and Greenlight have become synonym with shovel ware and crap being pushed through because of your lack of control. Which of course translates in you not checking when people steal mods or parts of it from other places, made by other people on other sites like Nexus, and sell them as their own on Steam. That’s ridiculous. That’s bad practice. That’s still preferable to you ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO STEAL.
You may or may not have heard about the guy who posted the fishing minigame for Skyrim on Steam, using another’s animation. When the third party told him that he wasn’t cool with that, the guy took the mod down. Now, what you probably don’t know is that the guy asked Steam if posting a mod using someone else’s work was okay, and they gave him a thumbs up. ‘If you can download it, it’s fair game’. This is unacceptable.
Just like the 1984 levels of control Valve is putting on their system and the backlash that resulted. They deleted links on the mod shop pages to alternate means of payment for the mods, like Patreon or donations. Why? Because if instead of using the shop people donate to the person directly, Valve and Bethesda don’t get their cut. Hence, they’re trying their damnest to force mods to use Steam to sell mods. They’ve also been locking threads, and most blatant of all, hiding scores and negative reviews on the Workshop.
For the love of god, they put together the worst of EA and Game Journos. Bloodsucking policies and censoring of criticism. And the effects on the modding community have already started. Prince example, the modder behind the Skyrim Midas Magic mod has now released two versions of the mod: one paid, and another one free. The latter doesn’t contain less content, as it would be smarter to do, but has a code in it which has a chance to display screen ads for the paid version upon casting a spell.
So, see where the dogfighting ring metaphore came from, now? What do you think about this situation and our lady Streisand? Share my opinion fully? In part? Think I’m full of it? Leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. And if you could give this post a rating and maybe subscribe to this blog if you liked what I had to say, that’d be great. *sips from ‘That means semen’ mug*