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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest Blog: Why we flipped out over paid mods.

3 comments by ABJECT_SELF on Apr 29th, 2015

It's both refreshing and a little concerning that absolutely everybody has an opinion on paid mods. As tumultuous as this April has been for pretty much everybody in the world, from Nepal to Baltimore to Steam users, it seems the most voracious topic of the month has been Valve's implementation, and sudden retraction, of paid mods for Skyrim. The debate has at least brought to light just how important mods are to the PC audience.

INtense's article currently on MODDB's front page pretty much summed up everything Valve did right and wrong. The concept of paid mods itself isn't evil, in fact it could be brilliant, but introducing them to a game community that's already existed on the free medium for years was a terrible idea. It would have gone down like Hernan Cortez bringing Christianity to the Aztecs.

"If the customer is always right, how can they accept something they disagree with?"

But I think one major reason paid mods drew such a strong reaction is that the gaming community is fed up with feeling like they've lost control of their own market. In the past 5 years, gamers have had to deal with the overwhelming torrent of publisher policies such as day-one DLC, always-on connectivity, season passes, microtransactions, preorder bonuses and forced account registrations. These are all concepts that are extremely unpopular with the consumer yet are sprouting up everywhere. Industry leaders say this kind of post-release monetization is something gamers just have to get used to, but that doesn't compute in the traditional market sense: If the customer is always right, how can they accept something they disagree with?

The problem is that the entire digital software and electronics market, not just gaming, has flipped the rules on the consumer. Don't want to accept that new iTunes EULA? No worries, just can't use your iPhone anymore. Don't like Facebook's new privacy policy? MySpace is that- oh wait it's gone. Don't want to pay for that new assault rifle in COD? Prepare to lose repeatedly to the guy who bought it. This is why Garry Newman's argument that the market will balance itself (while true when he made his success ten years ago) is sadly flawed: Digital markets now work on coercing the consumer to follow the publisher's direction by ensuring they have no adequate alternatives. Apply that logic to mods, and things start to look scary.

"Digital markets now work on coercing the consumer to follow the publisher's direction by ensuring they have no adequate alternatives."


Now, I trust Valve and Bethesda with mods. Bethesda is the reason I got into modding in the first place. The problem is when other companies adopt a paid-mod marketplace. EA and Activision, two companies that have been notoriously hostile to modders, could very quickly open their doors to modding, which would be great. However, if these publishers start earning income from paid mods, then any site hosting free mods suddenly becomes a competitor. I could see them taking action against sites like MODDB or the Nexus and modders who release their content for no charge. As it stands, modders operate in a legal grey area and their work exists at the mercy of whoever holds the rights to the game they're built on. One cease-and-desist notice is all it takes to halt months, even years, of nonprofit work on a mod.

This month brought modders dangerously close to the threat, and potential, of capitalism. With Valve and Bethesda reversing their policy, many are breathing a sigh of relief, but it's clear the debate hasn't ended. Valve is going to do exactly what made them into software giants: They're going to back to the drawing board, beat themselves up over where they failed, relentlessly fix the flaws in their design and come back with something everybody can appreciate (or at least tolerate). Then other publishers will copy their move. We can fully expect paid mods to become a reality within the next 2-3 years. Whether or not that's a good thing will come down to how much gamers have a say in it. I hope that when they do come, they exist in a market where paid mods are priced fairly and free mods will continue to be made with passion. Hell, I'd gladly produce both free and paid mods in such a system. But like many gamers, I don't trust the market to be fair and balanced anymore.

And without further ado, here's the weekly music video.



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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 18)
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Sep 16 2013, 1:11pm says:

Putting some brand new code into Dragon Studios' mod "Celeritas Eos" and it's coming out great! The cities are going to have a very dynamic feel!

+2 votes   reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF May 7 2013, 3:26am says:

Brian Welch finally gets back with Korn, confirms the new album will go back to nu-metal, AND announces a tour with Love & Death... with no stops anywhere near Boston. I get my three wishes but forgot the most important one. Ah well, at least Black Sabbath is coming to Mansfield and Kamelot hits Worcester this Summer.

+2 votes   reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Apr 14 2013, 2:02pm says:

RIP Chi Cheng :-( Really thought he was gonna pull through.

+2 votes   reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Apr 5 2013, 2:00pm says:

Still doing research for July Anarchy: Incursion Namibia. Just found out there's a massive cave in the Kalahari Desert named Dragon's Breath Cave. That is so becoming a dungeon!

+2 votes   reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Aug 19 2011, 5:33am says:

Might be inactive for the next few weeks due to health reasons. But I'll try very hard to update the sites for Static and July Anarchy Prologue first.

+2 votes   reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jul 5 2011, 1:02pm says:

Hi,

Thanks for downloading "The endless rain", were you able to run the module correctly without any errors? I have been told it might be missing some files. Not sure which ones.

+2 votes     reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Jul 6 2011, 7:01pm replied:

I downloaded it but haven't fired it up yet. After tomorrow I'll finally be able to play games for fun again.

+2 votes   reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jul 6 2011, 7:31pm replied:

Make you you get the new version, The old version had a couple major glitches. Thanks for downloading :).

+2 votes     reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jul 7 2011, 6:41am replied:

Make sure you*

+2 votes     reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jun 30 2011, 9:16pm says:

I've been wanting to get into modding NWN, what tutorials would you recommend for a beginner?

+2 votes     reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Jun 30 2011, 10:08pm replied:

The variety of resources available to you is pretty huge, so it depends on what kind of mod you'd like to make. If you're just going for a straightforward new adventure, here's a list of tutorials that can get you started pretty quick (http://nwvault.ign.com/?dir=resources/tutorials). If you want to learn NWN scripting, begin with this tutorial set (http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=Movies.Detail&id=200) and definitely bookmark the NWN Lexicon, which documents virtually every script function in the game along with a few hand tutorials.

There's also an automatic script generator that I found very useful early on. You can actually make a fairly complex mod with this generator alone. (http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view=Other.Detail&id=625)

+2 votes   reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jun 30 2011, 10:11pm replied:

Thanks, I'll get to work on these straight away, Do you require scripting knowledge for a basic new adventure?

+2 votes     reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Jun 30 2011, 11:58pm replied:

Not really. There is in fact a plot wizard and a simple script generator (for conversations, which is where a lot of your scripts are going to go) included within the toolset. The most important skills to you will be level design and writing dialogue.

+2 votes   reply to comment
ABJECT_SELF Creator
ABJECT_SELF Jun 30 2011, 11:59pm replied:

Not really. There is in fact a plot wizard and a simple script generator (for conversations, which is where a lot of your scripts are going to go) included within the toolset. The most important skills to you will be level design and writing dialogue.

+2 votes   reply to comment
beretta
beretta Jul 1 2011, 10:52am replied:

I've been making some great progress with the tutorials you gave me, Thanks again.

+2 votes     reply to comment
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