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Valve removes Steam paid mods after community backlash

Valve has removed paid mod support for Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, following a massive internet backlash across multiple forums. The backlash led Valve’s chief Gabe Newell to open a Reddit AMA to find the root issues, but it only managed to raise more concerns over how Valve were dealing with the situation.

It is the first single player title to receive paid mod support from inside the Steam Workshop; Valve’s own framework for selling mods. Various issues including stolen mods, spam and ridiculous prices plagued the store since its launch a few weeks ago.

In the removal announcement, UI Designer Alden Kroll said “we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating.”

Kroll did mention that paid mods will return at some point, once Valve has a better read on the whole modding situation. The paid mod support will most likely start with one of Valve’s own games, if it ever gets round to publishing another video game.

All customers who bought paid mods will be refunded. Newell in his AMA said that the mods had made around $15,000 (£10,000) during the few weeks, although the expenses for Valve screwing up the modding scene apparently cost “millions” alongside adding more support staff to calm the angry PC gamers.

Even though a few people were upset at the idea of modders making money, it seems the root cause comes from a lack of oversight on the store, a lack of consistency in pricing, and a lack of options for modders to offer; like donations, pay-what-you-want and other systems of payment.

Some suggested Patreon style funding would be better than paying outright for the mod, allowing gamers to support the modder for several months. Donations might also be a way to keep modders going, a much less binary way than a one-time payment for a mod that might not work in a few months time.

Valve will return with paid mods on Steam, the question is when, and what game?