Modding have always been a big part of gaming world as we know it. Many of the full-fledged games started as mods of some popular game. After which then got identity on their own and were made a standalone games. Team Fortress 2, DOTA 2, Portal, Counter Strike etc. are some of the prime example of the games made from some mod previously developed. Recently several months ago Valve stirred some water by implementing paid modding in game Skyrim. Obviously backlash was huge so they had to take the decision back in several weeks but it did made some talks in gaming community if it can happen I future or not.
What is Modding?
The first question that comes to our mind is what modding is in general. In simplest terms mods are extra contents for a game which are made by gaming community (Gamers). They can be like armor, weapons, textures to entirely new quest lines and areas in game. They are like work of the community for the community free of cost. Modders do this as a hobby and do not to get paid for their services in general. They are not obliged to provide support or solve problems of the users if they choose not to. It’s very rare that they do this but let’s be clear that they hold this right.
Is Modding Monetization Really Bad?
Well let’s see, if modding is paid then it’s not a community work anymore, they are getting paid for their work so they must provide support for the mod as long as it’s there on the site. Also when money is involved then many modders won’t allow their mod to be used in some other mod which will kill the chances of many new mods and creativity. Not to mention that weird mods might surface as anyone with very little knowledge, will try their hands on mods for some easy money. There also arises the problem with the percentage of money that modders should get. When Valve implied the model, modders were getting only 25% of the sale value, now that was pure ridiculous but we do have to think about it. As the game developer holds the rights of the game so obviously they have the right to get some money if money is being made on their game by others. What percentage should it be is a debatable question.
Can it be a Good Thing?
That is up to you to decide, I’ll just give some problems and their possible solutions. First of all there should be some big brother watching over the mods and removing those which are not worthy to be paid. But then who are they to decide what needs to get paid and what doesn’t, it’s a subjective matter and changes from person to person. The money distribution should be fair enough so that modders don’t feel cheated by it. For example they should get more than 50% at the very least of the sale value. Modders should be liberal enough that they allow their mods to be used in some other mod but no one can force them to do it. Mods are their property and they are allowed to do whatever they want. There is another problem with mod compatibility with other mods, if a modder takes money, they have to check it to be compatible with every mod and mention them on mod page. That is a very tough task as Skyrim has no less than 40K mods.
My Personal Take on this
Personally I don’t think that it’s a good thing at all. There is a reason why community got so furious about mod monetization that they made a company like Valve to take back their decision. The backlash was huge and Gabe Newell had to come and discuss the matter with community on reddit. It was also the first time that he got downvoted to hell on reddit. Modding basically keeps the game alive for many years, much more than its lifespan. Because of this developers and publishers are already making money on other’s work by selling more copies of their game. It’s evident from the fact that Skyrim, a 4 year old game still tops the selling chart on Steam whenever a sale comes. Modding has always been a work of passion and hobby that comes out with loving the game. Let it be there. If mod monetization is implemented then it won’t be that, forums will be filled with rage and abuses to modders. Modders are not exactly professional experts on optimization so they’ll face problems when some guy is not able to run the mod. Yes, I agree that many modders deserve to be paid. For that they can accept donations but forcing users to pay for it is not a way. It only opens the Pandora’s Box of problems for everyone including them.
That’s about it, these are my personal views and should not be taken otherwise. Feel free to drop in comments to let me know what you think about this topic.