Ah, so the hysteria begins as a major gaming company looks to increase revenue just as any company would. For many fans Valve’s recent introduction of paid mods has been acknowledged as the figurative end of days with heightened concerns over the seemingly more and more chopped up products that people get with DLC often being needed to experience a full game.
Though the current outrage comes from an inability to consider the exact intentions of what Valve is doing here. Many seem to suggest that the standard process of downloading any of the freely available mods independent of Valve is no more, but that is not the case. All current mods remain unaffected. Valve simply offers the opportunity for these mods to be monetized with the Steam Workshop.
(Note, opportunity; mods can still be offered for free even on the Steam Workshop.)
When gaining an understanding of the reasons behind the new addition to Steam, it becomes much more reasonable why it has been implemented in the first place — the biggest reason being incentive.
Modders have long created incredible projects with millions of users downloading mods for Steam games, but those developing these mods have done it for little reliable monetary gain. Sure, donations can offer some compensation, but the skills of some of these modders is clearly incredible. That type of money simply does not do a good enough job to create great, consistent mod teams who work independently from major companies to create significant additions to games.
Valve is creating a profit-driven, high-quality mod industry
If a modder can support themselves (or at least partially support themselves) based on the hard work they do to benefit the gaming community there is no adverse impact other than people needing to pay a few dollars for a reliable market to access custom content from.
This is exactly what Valve is offering and it should be seen as much as an opportunity for mod developers as it is a market for consumers. Modders can set their prices, track their revenue, and work as a team with Steam offering payment methods that accommodate multiple people.
The biggest problem with the current stance of the system is the lopsided revenue distribution with Valve taking the majority of all profits. The idea of giving modders a platform to support themselves and create bigger and better content is fantastic, but Valve’s being a bit too greedy when it leaves these modders with only a 25% return.
The current revenue going directly to the mod developers is not good enough for independent modders looking to support themselves.
Still, the more successful pieces of content should be profitable enough to bring dedicated workers to the field and even the possibility of devoted mod studios could come to fruition. Imagine high quality designers, audio specialists, and coders coming together to create small custom additions to games like Skyrim, Call of Duty, Borderlands, or Grand Theft Auto. Financial incentive is how you can make this happen.
The new Steam Workshop addition will create a professional environment and platform for modders and mod teams to monetize their work and create incentive for higher quality content to come as affordable mods from this point forward.