Published on April 24th, 2015 | by Andew Dupe

Opinion: Paid Mods for Skyrim on Steam

EDIT: I feel like I need to clarify something.  These mods are DLC by defenition but they should not carry over the same stigma that we have about EA DLC.  These are were not set up to compensate for a half-baked game (it can sometimes) and genuinely extend the life of the game and it’s quality to the user.  Which is why modding has always been so popular to begin with.   DLC is a separate issue stop confusing the two of them.

EDIT EDIT: While my opinion still stands that paying for mods is likely still a good thing.  The implementation is 100% the problem here.  Many users are bashing this for the wrong reasons and we need to have a clear message for this going forward.  I’ll stand by these points that I made because I still believe they are valid.

I’m just going to start this off saying this is not a bad thing, far from it. I understand why people are getting a little uppity about this, if there is one thing gamers fear it is change.  Especially PC gamers.

Fear not brothers of the master race!  These are not the end times nor are they the beginning of the end times.  No one is forcing you to buy these mods that people spend hours and hours of their time on and no one is forcing them to charge you for it.  Really no matter way you cut it PC is still a winner in this, mods are just the icing on the cake of PC gaming and it’s not being taken away, it still has great support, so why not throw a little bit of money and show that we, the gamers, really do support the content creators.  This is coming from one of the PC gamers who’s Skyrim mods folder is likely larger than Skyrim itself.

If there is an incentive for people to make money there will likely be more content as an outcome.  That’s how Apple’s app store does it, that’s how the TF2 market place does it, and that’s how ‘Merica does it damn it!  God Bless Capitalism.  Especially since the programmers and modelers behind these mods are doing it in their spare time because they want to if they want to charge for it why not?  If you spent like 10 hours on something and have them use it for some number of hours as well only to nod and say “neat” you might start to think to your self “I could have been playing a game in that spare time.”

The Capitalism door swings both ways though if you don’t like it then don’t contribute and don’t buy into it then it will die.  From that point those developers will continue to make mods out of the goodness of their hearts and maybe you’ll donate and maybe not.  It’s kind of like art or any sort of content that people make.  They don’t understand the value of it when they can generally get it for free.

There is still always the Skyrim Mod Nexus.

There are many valid concerns about this paid mods service however such as quality and scammers posting up mods don’t deliver or they just post something from the Nexus. That will be up to the community and Steam to police much the same way any app store works.  For the quality people will rate the mod and leave a review then people will know if it’s good or completely terrible and it will all kind of normalize from that.  There is also the concern about compatibility with other mods and the solution to this, as well as the first two issues, is that you are able to “try any mod, risk free” and “newly posted items to be sold must first appear as visible to the community without a purchase option before they can be sold.” ( with a 24 hour refund period.

The backlash has been wildly negative from the community and why is everyone angry about it?  Well mods have always been free so they should stay free.   Mods have historically been free because there have been no ways for anyone to charge for them without the company throwing a ban hammer at their mod and forcing them to take it down and there is a whole bunch of copyright issues.

But look at this fairly successful Patreon done by GulaGames he’s an ex-Maxis employee who was laid off and he is creating some premium looking building mods for Cities:Skylines so he can help pay off student debt, etc.  Currently he is busy looking for a job in the gaming industry and is doing this on the side so he can keep creating content for us rather then spending his time as a bus boy or something.

We’ve also already seen some people feel like they could use this as a donation system where their mod is listed both in the free section and the paid section.  That’s nice he didn’t have to list it as free.

I’m going to say it again because it’s important that people understand that doing something like this as a labour of love is not a reason to not make money off of it.  It takes time and effort.  If you say “Oh but he was enjoying it and it was his free time”  I would reply “You’re in the wrong job if you don’t enjoy it and of course it was his free time because this isn’t his job. He isn’t being paid for it.”

You could also retort “Oh but they didn’t build the game, they are just adding onto other peoples work.”  I did mention above that this is normal for any game that has a community generated market place and look at the Apple App Store.  Apple built all of those utilities, platform, and market place for people to create content.  Same thing.

I know you PC gamers, you’re going to retort yet again with something like “Apple wants them to create content on their phones so people will buy it and use it.” There’s the trap.  Valve and Bethesda just did exactly that.

You’re also going to blame Valve for this one and I’ll tell you what. This is in no way Valve’s fault. It is 100% the modders decision that they want to charge money for their mod.  If you say that Valve shouldn’t have created the place for people to sell their content then you just don’t belong on Steam. Or the Internet.

In this TotalBiscuit video he brings up the point that Valve’s implementation of the workshop like this is flawed and something closer to patreon where there is a minimum payment and the rest is pay what you want is kind of a nicer idea.  Who knows where this will end up it’s a great idea.

TL;DR Some mods are just huge and given how popular Skyrim is with modding and the success of the TF2 marketplace I’m certain that we will see a major increase in not just mods in general but quality mods because people deserve to be paid for content they create. But this is a new concept and it’s not without its drawbacks, we need to adjust to it and stay vigilant about moderating this stuff and just go along with it for just a little bit.   It is trying to make the game that you like a bigger and better experience.

If you are new to Skyrim and have doubts about how awesome the mods are, here are just a couple examples of why these modders could deserve some compensation starting with this album of screenshots from /u/Sprakisnolo

The mod in the main image of this post is from a younger modder who spent over 1000 hours creating a mod so large it is basically an expansion.  He submitted it as a part of a job application.

Here is my favourite steampunk clothes mod:
unnamed (1)

Finally my favourite!  Macho Man Dragons!
unnamed (2)
The modders also deserve way more than 25% for some of these mods.

About the Author

Andrew is a web developer and general geek. He likes drawing, programming, table top gaming, video gaming, other general geek things, and of course long walks on the beach. Follow him on twitter @dup3 Favourite Movie: Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi Favourite Game: Halo 2 Favourite Book: Name of the Wind

4 Responses to Opinion: Paid Mods for Skyrim on Steam

  1. Hortater says:

    fuck paid mods. this whole “its not so bad” attitude is exactly what will allow this bs to continue. Weak, Spineless, wusses,(like you,. Andrew) fooled under the guise that this will actually benefit modding and mod authors, while in reality will only make Valve richer and mod authors who go along with this thinking they are getting some sort of pay out, vehemently hated and shunned for the rest of their lives(and perhaps even after.) this needs to end now, a simple solution is to make the donation entirely optional, I have no problem with that. It might just be wet & cold and a few hideous cartoon dota swords today, but tomorrow? You will start to see this happen in every games workshop. We need to stand together, and blow the fucking war horn, not stand idly by like some neckbeard in a wimpy hat while valve rapes every single shilling out of what was once a beautiful and free service.
    Man the fuck up, Andre Dupe.

    • Andew Dupe says:

      That’s one way of looking at it. I still think it’s wrong because donations aren’t reliable as many people just will not do it. Like I said in this post the Apple App Store is an example of people offering a service where people can choose to put their app up for free or make it paid. Donations are also still an option in most free apps but if there were no paid apps on the app store it would be a very different place.

      Back to the free service point. Have you ever put work into something and think “Hey, getting paid for this would be neat.” Why is it so bad to have a service that allows people to make some money off it? Just because it was historically a free service doesn’t mean that it should stay that way and again it is up to the mod authors to charge for it. Modding is not just some noble cause to extend the life span of a video game, it’s someone’s time, energy, creativity, and knowledge. Do you think all Art should be free?

      Like I conceded in this article, there are many better ways to execute this idea than how Valve did. This is the issue we need to stand together on and hopefully it will be something that’s better for everyone.

      • Hortater says:

        This whole thing has got me sick to my stomach. Paying for mods goes against everything community modding stands for. Are you going to pay for mods that fix bugs? Are you going to pay for fucking fisher-price Dota swords? If they want to get paid for creating “Art” then go to fucking school, and get a job doing it. Some Mod Authors are so great that they have studios blowing up their in boxes to get them to work for them. This half baked system is retarded. they are playing with fire. Instead of creating actual new games and original content, they are putting out recycled trash and raking in the doe with minimal effort. Modding is a pass time, modding is a practice, and yes, modding is an art. What modding is not, is a product. Allowing this to happen will only restrict the great freedom we’ve come to know as modding. As the Nexus’s name suggests from star trek, seven I think it is, The Nexus was an extradimensional realm in which one’s thoughts and desires shape reality. Inside the Nexus, time and space had no meaning, allowing one to visit any time and any place that one could imagine. Say good-fucking-bye to all of it. What was once a labor of love will soon be like everything else in this fucked up cut throat world. They have no idea the implications of what this will do. it’s the beginning of the end. Unless People like you, with a nice template, and domain (nicer than a lot of popular gaming news sites)to take a fucking stand. Here and Now.

        • Andew Dupe says:

          I’m starting to come around to the other side of this argument, if only because of how poorly executed this whole thing was. I do still believe that modding could be a product because it is art of a kind and people are making it. Just because historically it hasn’t been a product doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. In the case of gaming it is an extremely volatile market where job stability is shaky at best but keeping people into development rather than washing dishes, like I mentioned in the article, is a plus. The gaming industry is always evolving and we don’t know where it’s going to end up and if this is the next step then great and if it’s not then good try but next time ask what the community wants before launching a crazy service like this. Maybe at least warm us up to it.

          This whole thing won’t stop people from treating modding like a labour of love and the market will sort out quality mods over the ones where they clearly aren’t even trying. Just like any art, any app created, any DotA2 weapon or skin if the person really cared about what they were doing and put time into it, it will show in the final product.

          I appreciate the Star Trek reference. I think it was from First Contact which was the 8th Star Trek film. Thanks for the compliment on the site too.

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