For years, one of the biggest draws in PC gaming has been the modding community. After all, why play through a game the normal way when you can just mod it and make it even better? In fact, some game's success can be attributed almost entirely to modders - titles like Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto IV are still being played years after their release simply because of the dedicated players who change the way these games are played.
Some mods, like the Half-Life remake Black Mesa, are so huge in scope that the developers behind the core game take notice and offer help - that's how big the modding community has become. The best part is that PC mods have always been free...until now, that is.
Yesterday, Valve announced a new monetization platform for its Steam Workshop mods: essentially, players can now sell their mods through Steam, with Valve and the game's publisher receiving a cut. While it might not be a terrible idea on paper, the Internet was quick to let Valve know exactly how they felt about the new system.
At first, it may seem like gamers are complaining simply because they now have to pay for certain Skyrim mods. That's true...to a certain extent. Most gamers are more concerned with the quality and legitimacy of these new paid mods: Steam's Early Access program has come under fire before due to games that won't work, will never be finished or blatantly lie in order to get gamers to pay for them. Many of those complaints have now crossed over to the new Steam Workshop Program, and for good reason:
Not only can you buy fan-made mods that just barely work, you can also buy fan-made mods that definitely won't work!! pic.twitter.com/N2bHxfvhqg
— Alex Smith (@alexapdos) April 24, 2015
Of course, there are still plenty of people complaining about the price...
valve reshapes its mod selling structure due to backlash. mods now come in treasure chests, keys selling for $20. 100% of profits go to gabe — THE BEST GAMERS (@TheBestGamers) April 24, 2015
BREAKING NEWS: Valve lobbies government to pass a new law mandating minimum $100 price for PC game mods. Free mods punishable by death. — Tyler Glaiel (@tylerglaiel) April 23, 2015
However, there are a few gamers who have come up with a more creative way of protesting. One mod in particular points out a few of the holes in the new Steam Workshop policy:
Some fans are going even further, as both a Steam Group and a Change.Org petition have made their way online, calling for the removal of the new paid mod system. In particular, the Change.Org petition has got some serious momentum: it's already accrued more than 35,000 signatures at the time of writing, more than half of its 50,000 signature goal - and more signatures are coming in constantly.
It's easy to understand where Valve is coming from: gamers sometimes put hundreds of hours into these mods, and Valve is providing them with a chance to earn some income. However, the system would be far better suited if it came with some sort of quality standards, or if the price was based on a donation system - instead, there are already hundreds of half-finished mods sitting on the Workshop, sporting a shiny new price tag.
So far, the changes only affect Skyrim mods, but Valve has made it clear that it wants to extend the feature to other games. Whether or not this happens following the backlash from gamers is still up in the air, but you can probably expect to see more and more paid mods further on down the line.
If you want to check out the paid mods for yourself, you can head on over to the official Steam Workshop page.