Modders Should Be Able to Make Money From Their Work, Quake Dev Says

John Romero reveals id Software experimented with a paid mod program back in the 1990s.


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Modders should be able to make money from their work. That's according to veteran game designer John Romero, who co-created iconic shooter franchises like Doom and Quake at id Software in the 1990s.

GamesIndustry International spoke to Romero recently about the issue, which has made headlines of late following Valve's introduction--and subsequent removal--of paid mods on Steam.

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In the interview, Romero not only says modders should be able to make money, but he reveals that id Software even experimented with a paid mod system with Quake back in 1995.

"I've always believed that mod makers should be able to make money from their creations," Romero said. "In 1995, while we were making Quake, we had the idea to start a company called id Net. This company would be the portal that players would connect to and play other mod maker's creations. It was to be a curated site, levels and mods chosen by us at id, and if we put your content on our network we would pay you an amount equal to the traffic that your content drove to the site."

The idea for id Net was abandoned, according to Romero, because the team was stretched enough as it was just to release Quake. But Romero still believes in the concept, saying creators ought to be "rewarded for their hard work."

Quake, of course, was the basis for the free Team Fortress mod. That game later spawned a full sequel--Team Fortress 2--which has become one of Valve's most recognizable titles.

Valve introduced a paid mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on April 23, and removed the program four days later amid controversy over revenue-sharing and the concept itself. The company said one of its main goals for the paid mod system, which began with Skyrim and was to later expand to other titles, was to help modders make money so they could in turn be able to spend more time making better mods.

"We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free and paid," Valve said at the time. "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."

"It's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing."

What do you make of Romero's comments? Should modders be able to make money from their work? Let us know in the comments below.

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