Despite The Skyrim "Mess," Valve Still Supports Paid Game Mods

Valve "think[s] that absolutely [modders] need to be compensated."


Although its rollout of paid mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in 2015 didn't pan out as it hoped, Valve still believes modders deserve to be paid.

Valve shared its views on the matter during a roundtable discussion this week. As reported by GamesBeat, Gabe Newell stated that modders "create a lot of value, and [Valve] think[s] that absolutely they need to be compensated." He added that the "degree to which they are not being accurately compensated is a bug in the system."

The company previously introduced a system that allowed modders to charge for their creations through the Steam Workshop. But the response from many was negative, and the flawed feature was removed within days.

"The Skyrim situation--well, it was a mess," Newell said this week. "It was not the right place to launch that, and we did some hamfisted things in the way we rolled it out. But the fundamental concept that the gaming community needs to reward the people who are creating value is pretty important."

Newell also indicated he believes Steam would offer paid mods at this point if not for the Skyrim misstep. Valve's Erik Johnson laments the situation, but noted that Valve "got a lot of great data out of that."

"It was awful to go through, but it gave us a ton of useful information," he said.

Skyrim's paid mods were introduced with very little notice. The game had, at that point, been available for over three years, and there was a strong backlash from players. Newell took part in a Reddit AMA in an attempt to explain and defend paid mods in which he said, "Our goal is to make modding better for the authors and gamers. If something doesn't help with that, it will get dumped. Right now I'm more optimistic that this will be a win for authors and gamers, but we are always going to be data driven."

Modder Arthmoor's When Vampires Attack mod
Modder Arthmoor's When Vampires Attack mod

Skyrim developer Bethesda also defended the move, but shortly thereafter, Valve canceled the initiative altogether. "We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing," Valve said in a statement at the time.

"To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities," it continued. "We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free and paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-Strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it."

To date, Valve hasn't shared any concrete plans to reintroduce paid mods. Based on what it said this week, though, it only seems like a matter of time before it tries again.

One change on the way to Steam that we do know about is the removal of Steam Greenlight, which will be replaced by something called Steam Direct this spring.

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