Valve’s New Program Causes Major Backlash


The Nintendo Creators Program has been at the center of a lot of controversy lately. If you upload any video with Nintendo IP in it on Youtube, you’re subject to the program, even if you’re not attempting to make royalties. Also the list of games that can be used, if you’re part of the program, is quite limited. For instance, every version of Smash Bros. is missing from it. This, of course, hasn’t sat well with a lot of people, especially those making videos. So it’s hard to imagine that, not even half a year later, another company would come along and introduce an even more controversial program to gaming. Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly what happened.

A few days ago, Valve announced plans to let user-made mods be sold on the Steam Workshop. Those plans went into effect immediately. The first game up as the test subject – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The reaction from fans was… bad. Very bad. As a matter of fact, the amount of outrage in PC gaming communities across the net from this is equivalent to the “Online Check-in DRM” announcement for the Xbox One and the “Real Names” announcement by Blizzard, both of which were killed shortly after being announced. Similar to the previously mentioned programs, a petition has been made to kill this program.

Why are people upset, you may ask? Quite a few reasons, really. Some of the mods people were using previously through Steam Workshop have become unusable. The mod creators only get 25% of the profit from the mods and won’t see anything untill they make at least $400. You only have one day – ONE day – to get your money back if a mod doesn’t work. This means if a patch for another mod comes out a couple days after your purchase and it breaks your purchased mod, you can’t do anything. And the big reason is – unlike the Nintendo Creators Program, which sees too much regulation –  this doesn’t have enough regulation. Anybody can sell a mod. This effectively can turn the Steam mod market into the Android market for mods. We’ve already seen several questionable mods at questionable prices and even mods for sale with content stolen from other mods.

To make matters worse, Valve doesn’t really have much in the way of a real strategy for handling conflicting mods. Instead, they tell you to politely talk with the mod creator.

Q. What happens if a mod I bought breaks?
A. Sometimes one mod may modify the same files as another mod, or a particular combination of mods may cause unexpected outcomes. If you find that mod has broken or is behaving unexpectedly, it is best to post politely on the Workshop item’s page and let the mod author know the details of what you are seeing.

Not too long after the storm started, Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell took to Reddit to discuss the controversy over the company’s decision. He stated that they’re reviewing the system and making sure that there’s still free mods available in Steam Workshop.  Many users are saying the remedy for this is for Valve to introduce a donate button. Of course, we won’t know when, how, or if things will change. Until then, however, if you’re looking for mods and don’t want to go through Steam, there’s still Nexus.

How do you feel about Valve’s program? Would you prefer having the program as is; would you prefer a donate button; or do you just want your mods to be free?

3 replies »

  1. I like the concept of mods being something you can make money off of; I’ve been in that scene for a while and would have loved something like this a few years ago.

    However, that said, I do fear the effects it might have on the scene. For instance, one of the best things about any game modding community is how the members are there to help each other out and are willing to provide resources and help for free rather than for a commercial incentive. And this program could hurt that. Why give out free resources and help if people are just going to sell the results and pocket the cash?

    I also worry about the possibility of modding becoming too ‘corporate’. People here have a passion for the hobby, and I don’t want to see that replaced by a bunch of agencies and startups trying to monetise the modding scene and turn it into the equivalent of the iOS app store. And let’s face it, given how mods are quite a bit less work to make for a company… there’s currently every incentive for such groups to form or get involved and use it for pure financial gain.

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