Clearing Some Misconceptions About Paid Mods
There is a TON of misinformation out there involving paid mods. I'd like to take this opportunity to do a sort of FAQ to clear some of them up.
Q: Is Bethesda allowed to do this? Don't I own my mod?
A: Bethesda isn't forcing you to charge for your mod. That being said, Bethesda owns the copyright to all things created in the Creation Kit or intended to enter their games. This is what you skipped past when you click agree on the EULA. Therefore, it is perfectly legal for them to take a cut of what you make if you choose to charge for your mod.
Q: Can't someone just take the mod I've released for free and put it up on the workshop for money?
A: They can, just like they could have taken your independent film you created and charged people money to watch it. In this, and that, case, you can file a Takedown request using Valve's easy form. This is the same form that you would use if someone releases your paid mod for free, or even claims your free mod as their own and puts it up for free as well. It is extremely easy to prosecute someone doing this because they are required to provide contact, bank, and tax information in order to get a paid mod approved. Anyone profiting from your work can easily be found. No more anonymous theft!
Q: Any money I might make is given to me in Steam Wallet funds, not actual money. How do I pay my rent with Steam Wallet funds?!?
A: No idea where this rumor got started. You are paid using an Electronic Funds Transfer into the bank account of your choosing. In fact, you have to go through some pretty extensive tax and bank disclosure just to get a mod approved for sale. Because of this, they will only pay in US dollars, and not in Steam Wallet funds.
Q: If I buy a mod with money, and get a refund, it goes into my Steam Wallet and not my bank account! How is that fair?
A: You are only able to buy mods with Steam Wallet funds in the first place, so if you do buy a mod and get a refund, the money is coming from your Steam Wallet, and is going back into it as well.
Q: What if someone releases a paid mod that requires another mod?
A: If anyone releases any mod on Steam, paid or otherwise, that requires the use of another mod, or even uses assets from that mod, they are required by Valve to receive permission from the original creator of the assets before they release it. If someone has used your assets and didn't ask your permission, and you are annoyed about it, feel free to contact the author of the mod, or file a Takedown request.
Q: What if someone charges unreasonable amounts for an essential mod?
A: Valve and Bethesda reserve the right to lower or even eliminate the fee on a mod prior to it being published, so if they are charging $200 for almost nothing, it won't get released at that price.
Q: Valve only gives us 25%, that's so low!!!!!
A: Yes, 25% is very low in terms of the amount the mod authors receive, but this has nothing to do with Valve. Valve's information states that the amount that the mod author receives out of the overall price shall be determined by the Publisher, not by Valve, so blame Bethesda for only giving you 25%!
Q: They should just create a donation system!
A: They are way ahead of you. Along with setting a specific price for a mod, the author can chose to set the price as "pay-what-you-want" allowing the downloader to decide what they want to pay. This is essentially a donation system, and if every mod author chooses this, everyone would be much happier!
If you have any further questions, feel I missed something, or would like the specific spots where I got the answers to these questions, feel free to contact me!
Comment from: Legoless [Visitor]
The bad press Chesko got was very unfortunate, and Valve’s refusal to remove a paid mod from the Workshop at the author’s request is a little worrying. The 25% at the rigidity of the ‘pay what you want’ model is also a little sleazy. That said, all classicly bad Bethesda PR aside, I remain tentatively excited for what this new marketplace might bring. Basic economics will soon sort out the expected horse armor-esque trashware saturation.
04/24/15 @ 19:27
Comment from: minor edits [Member]
Theft is already a problem, and I think it’s going to have a very negative impact on collaboration and the mod community in general. Mods will be of higher quality on average, but there will also be a lot fewer mods overall, and I’m not convinced that it will actually provide a better game experience in the end. There are quite a few problems here, and while many of can be addressed over time, it is going to produce some fascinating copyright cases, when it inevitably goes to trial.
Make no mistake: this is terrifically anti-consumer. If it is allowed to take off, if gamers buy into it, it will just add one more avenue to tack on hidden costs to the game, and provide Bethesda even more of an excuse to ship broken games with a dearth of content. And as necessary licenses increase, so will the cost of the mods. The overall cost of playing TES games is going to skyrocket. And as I’ve said before, the relatively low cost of the Elder Scrolls experience has always been one of its greatest strengths.
I remember when they started making DLC for games, and the great concerns people had with it, all of which have come true. Developers routinely ship broken games, they routinely have “add-ons” which should’ve been in the vanilla game from the start, and they manage to get away with this garbage while still steadily inflating the base cost of their products.
If the average video game consumer over the past three decades had been more mature, more capable of standing up to sleazy business practices and advocating for regulations to protect the consumer, we would have never reached this point where we’re being nickel and dimed to death at every turn. But, instead, the companies with the sleaziest business practices tend to make the most money.
This is exploitative, potentially disastrous, and even if it all “works", it will not be a good thing. It will just become a new sleazy way to separate you from your money.
It’s time to wake up.
04/26/15 @ 12:14
Comment from: jeancey [Member]
Theft occurred before. There are processes in place to prevent people from making money off of stolen mods. And I disagree whole heartedly with the assertion that DLC would have been in the main game. I doubt we would have ever seen the DLC content if we didn’t have paid DLC. Do you know how many old games have “cut content"? Things that never made it into the games because they didn’t have enough time? THAT is what DLC is. It is content they couldn’t finish before shipping the game to the disc manufacturers. And the bugginess of old games that never gets patched? Yeah, it’s better that we can fix those things now. Trust me, DLC has been to the benefit of the consumer in allowing the games they love to remain relevant. If you want a cheap TES game, just buy it for console. You won’t be tempted to purchase any paid mods. I feel you are bashing a system before you have even let it have a trial period. I seem to recall many people bashing ESO before it came out as the “death of TES". Well, the game is out, and it is a great addition to the series. Give the paid mods a chance. Once they fix the 25%-75% thing, I don’t see all that many issues with it. That is the only large issue with the idea.
04/26/15 @ 13:26
Comment from: minor edits [Member]
“Theft happens” is not an argument.
It’s not the concept of DLC I’m lamenting, it’s HOW it is used. Day 1 DLC, such as Mass Effect 3’s From Ashes, for example; that’s not about fixing anything, that was holding back what was, in my opinion, an integral part of the game for extra cash (somewhat similar in effect to the ESO’s Imperial edition). These are simply cash grabs. A lot of DLC, especially in the early part of the cycle, are like that. They’re not “bonuses", they’re amortized and hidden costs! People don’t put up with this in most other industries; ones where the primary consumers are not minors with little conception of what a dollar is worth. If there’s one thing I will never understand, it’s the tacit acceptance gamers have with being fleeced, when they could easily force the industry to behave more ethically if they could just stand up for themselves and practice a little self-control.
My rant had absolutely nothing to do with patches and bug fixes, it’s about the paid content additions. And “getting to the stuff they didn’t have time for” is not how things work anymore with the great majority of DLC packages, if it ever was. Rather, games have carefully planned DLC life cycles from long before the launch date. In other words, certain parts are held back specifically so that they can cash in on them separately. I think viewing it as “content they couldn’t finish before shipping the game to the disc manufacturers” is naive. It’s content that they PLANNED NOT TO finish before the shipping the game, by and large.
You may feel I’m overly critical, but I think you’re “white knighting” the matter. You have to take the long view on these things, on how these things shape the industry. For example, paying for third-party mods will not remain PC-only; the industry is evolving away from that dichotomy already. It’s just a matter of time before “console” players on a Steam box or some similar device are scrolling through lists of third-party mods, all with dollar signs next to them. A bad decision, when made by enough gamers, eventually effects the industry as a whole, so the whole “ignore it” argument lacks merit.
So, on your ESO example: “I seem to recall many people bashing ESO before it came out as the ‘death of TES.’ Well, the game is out, and it is a great addition to the series.” First of all, anyone who said it would be the death of TES is an idiot, but it was far from idiotic to think that ESO was not worth playing as it stood at launch. I do not believe it was a worthy addition to the franchise at the time. You’re acting like bashing the game was undeserved, and that people stopped bashing the game after it was released. That’s a misrepresentation of what actually happened: people bashed the game, and they continued to bash it well after launch. ZeniMax, to their credit, managed to forge it into a respectable TES title, but one which bears little resemblance to the game they initially came out with. And they only managed to do so with the help of the community. And it took them a year of charging the community for the privilege of playing the game to do this - to have the privilege of fixing their game for them!
And you’re really offering that up that as consumer-friendly? Because, frankly, looking back on it all, I think I made the right move in waiting to see if and when they turned ESO into something worth playing. And now people like me are going to play a different, better game than what ESO players have been paying to play over most of the last year, and we’re going to do so at a fraction of the price. Forgive me if I feel I’m getting the better end of the stick in this arrangement.
I don’t necessarily want a “cheap TES game” personally. Their historically low cost has been a strength of the franchise, not the reason I’ve played the games. I want TES to do well, and keeping costs down helps to ensure that it will be experienced by a wider range of people. Plus, I do want ZeniMax to make money. One of the reasons I opposed the mandatory subscription, for example, was because I genuinely felt they could make more money without it. And it seem they have arrived at that conclusion, as well.
Edit- None of the above should be construed as disparaging Jeancey’s awesomeness.
04/26/15 @ 16:14