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!