Remember the last time when Valve tried to introduce paid mods on Steam? It didn’t go well and it did not survive contact with the PC gaming community. When the proposal was announced in April 2015 with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as a pilot game it mostly got negative feedback. Shortly after that Valve removed the feature altogether. To some gamers the notion of paying modders for their work was contrary to the spirit of modding. Many suggested a donation scheme for Steam Workshop modders as an alternative to traditional pricing.
“We underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop,” Valve’s Alden Kroll wrote at the time. “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. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.”
“… modders create a lot of value, and we think that … absolutely they need to be compensated, they’re creating value and the degree to which they’re not being accurately compensated is a bug in the system, right? It’s just inserting noise into it,” said Gabe Newell. “You want to have efficient ways so that the people who are actually creating value are the people that money is flowing to.”
“The Skyrim situation was a mess. It was not the right place to launch that specific thing and we did some sort of ham-handed, stupid things in terms of how we rolled it out,” he said. “EJ [Valve’s Erik Johnson] basically said we just need to back off of this for now, but the fundamental concept of ‘the gaming community needs to reward the people who are creating value’ is pretty important, right? … the degree to which Valve helps contribute to efficiency in the system is one of the ways in which we’re adding value to the system as a whole. So, you know, we have to just figure out how to do it in a way that makes customers happy and that they buy into it, it makes creators happy because they feel like the system is rational and is rewarding the right people for the work that they do. Does that make sense?”
“Skyrim gave us a ton of information. But there was also a little bit of ‘That burner is hot. Maybe we wait awhile before we put our fingers on that burner again.'”