Posted on 23 Apr 2016 by Kyle Johnson

Paid Mods Are Slowly Returning to Steam

Almost a month after I brought the news that paid custom games had made their way into Dota 2, and almost a year since paid mods found their way onto Steam, a few new pieces of information and updates from Steam have hinted at the inglorious return of paid mods. As we all remember, the community outcry was impressive in its scale and scope, and perhaps warranted, as the quality of supposedly vetted mods was dubious at times.

Sega, however, seeing an opportunity, has decided to add unit skins to Company of Heroes 2. To be sure, the line about “skins may be sold in the in-game store” was in the original posting on Polycount so it can’t entirely come as a surprise, though the decision is still strange. For a game that has, on average, ~5,000 players at peak daily, compared to Skyrim’s 30,000, the business logic here may not be entirely sound.

In addition, we also get insight into just how much Valve and other developers take as part of a cut for microtransactions. The actual creators of the skins get 30% of the price, or the exact same cut that Valve takes. Relic takes 20%, and another 20% vanishes into the ether to be used for “community events and activities.” Effectively, that means Relic is taking 40%, though only explicitly taking 20. As these skins were developed as part of a collaborative community effort through Polycount, one would hope that the quality would be above excellent, though whether or not the skins are actually fitting with the World War 2 environment remains to be seen.

Not only that, but it would seem as though paid mods and workshop content is returning. Reports have surfaced of content creators being “allowed to subscribe” to their own content. User uLLeticaL, creator of a number of CS:GO maps, created a thread on Reddit wondering if anyone else had noticed such changes in their content, and it would appear as though all content in all games in the Workshop is seeing such a message. In addition, there are claims of certain strings appearing in the Steam Translation Server related to paid mods, though I have been unable to source such claims as of yet. Again, this is not entirely unsurprising, as many have wagered that it would only be a matter of time before Valve returned with paid mods, though perhaps the sheer scope of the paid mods is baffling.

Some fear that paying for legitimate utilities and maps is a dangerous change for the modding community.



Could this possibly be tied to the news of the impending release of Fallout 4’s Creation Kit? Possibly, though Bethesda’s EULA for Fallout 4 currently states that mods must be free. Of course, EULAs can be changed fairly easily, and Bethesda is no stranger to doing so, yet I would hazard a guess that Bethesda doesn’t want news of the Creation Kit’s release to be tempered by the outrage of paid mods yet again. We don’t yet know how’s integration with mods (and mods on console) is going to work just yet, but nonetheless, this timing is highly coincidental, if anything.

Personally, I could see Valve opting for a subscription-based model for access to mods and other workshop content, similarly to Xbox Live for PlayStation Network. I can’t see Valve forcing consumers into paying for multiplayer game access, yet locking out some content behind a subscription may be a way to ensure that all modders get some money, even if it’s just a fraction thereof. Valve has also put in considerable work into improving the security for the Community Market, with some changes that were unwelcome by high-volume traders.

Regardless of my speculation, the saga around paid mods continues, and I’m certain that we’ll know more about what Valve’s plan for paid mods and such a service is sometime in the future.

Comments (8)

Posts: 127
Simon Sirmenis
Posted 27 Apr 2016, 20:25
Yup, as well as that would warrant why they are taking such a big cut.

Another problem with mods costing money is value. No one will price a mod £/$0.25 for a skin, it will be at least 0.99 at the same time 50 skins aren't worth nowhere near as much as the whole game no matter how good they are.

Posts: 202
L Coulsen
Posted 27 Apr 2016, 15:16
That's not a bad idea actually. I could see that working quite well. It would require them to make the mod well rounded too, so it doesn't bork anything

Posts: 127
Simon Sirmenis
Posted 26 Apr 2016, 19:29
We have played mod's already, it's called DLC. We need to kill this idea with fire or in 5 years time we will suffer for it dearly.
I know that company's will want to implement it but we must not give up. I'd rather the developers/publishers republished the best mods giving modders money that way instead of buying a mod straight out.

Posts: 30
Stephen Haselden
Posted 25 Apr 2016, 14:07
As we all know quality of paid mods can be an issue, and Valve or someone needs to curate the paid mods.
Steam doesn't have the backwards compatibility of GoG Galaxy, so there is no guarantee that a mods will always work. I feel this is something Steam will have to address before I dive into any paid mods.
Most importantly though, all modding communities have their roots in co-operation, generosity, and mods made for the benefit of all, in other words free.
If paid mods are going to exist ( and I would like them too ), then they must not prohibit free mods. Any developer, who does exclude free mods, would quickly find themselves on my boycott list. And if Steam allow developers to exclude all free mods, then yes I'll join any petition that see Paid mods ended, if thats what it takes.

Posts: 202
L Coulsen
Posted 24 Apr 2016, 15:06
Agreed. Curation really is the key here. But I don't think that should fall to Valve. Just as they've done with Greenlight and, to a less degree, user reviews. It should be based on what the Steam community thinks

Posts: 17
Posted 24 Apr 2016, 13:11
Thing is, as long as it's just outfits or skins i don't see a huge problem with it. If it's curated and the quality is up to snuff and the prices aren't too high it won't be a big deal. Valve has been doing it for years now.. it was just a matter of time until other publishers caught up with it.

However, this isn't far away from terrible gameplay changing mods that might break your savegame, crash your game or even your whole system. Actually, even skins could do that. But that's where the curated thing comes into play. Then again, curating and Steam/Valve never existed. Maybe Sega knows better.

Posts: 202
L Coulsen
Posted 24 Apr 2016, 08:57
It's going to happen, like it or lump it. And it will be a travesty, and people will hate it, and the system will be tweaked and, eventually, it'll sort of settle into a model most are comfortable with. It's not THAT different from allowing users to sell their hats, in the grand scheme of things. And that was pretty much hated to begin with. In fact, still is by some people. Money makes the world go round unfortunately. And I can empathise with the mod makers. They put in a lot of effort, and I agree they should be able to seek recompense for their time

Posts: 127
Simon Sirmenis
Posted 24 Apr 2016, 00:11
Well here we go. Wait till other, even greedier companies get the wind of this. It will be a free-for-all...

I really hope that we can kill it again but I am sure that Valve will try to bring it back later on even if we manage it. And Valve is the biggest culprit here. They could put a permanent stop if they wanted but Gabens tummy must be hurting...