Bethesda and Valve have announced that they will no longer allow Skyrim modders to sell their work on Steam.
In an update on the Bethesda blog, the Elder Scrolls and Fallout publisher said: “After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.”
Shortly after the post was made, Valve published its own update on Steam’s community page, saying that everyone who previously purchased a paid-for mod will have their money refunded.
“We’re going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we’ll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree,” wrote Valve’s Community Manager Alden. “We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing. We’ve been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they’ve been received well. It’s obvious now that this case is different.”
“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,” the post continued. “We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & 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.
“But 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. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.
“Now that you’ve backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we’ll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.”
Valve announced its decision to allow paid-for mods just last week, but the move proved to be controversial from the start, with many modders and players complaining that paid-for mods would split the community, encourage developers to release broken games, and that there weren’t sufficient safeguards in place to prevent theft of other modders’ work. A petition on change.org demanding that Valve U-turn on the program managed to gather 133,010 signatures, and Valve’s own CEO, Gabe Newell, received a hostile response after taking to Reddit in order to defend the policy. Newell’s comments proved so unpopular that every single one of his posts was downvoted to the point where it was no longer visible.
Prior to this move, Bethesda had defended the decision to only give modders 25% of the money raised by selling their mods. “This is not some money grabbing scheme by us,” the publisher said. “Even this weekend, when Skyrim was free for all, mod sales represented less than 1% of our Steam revenue… We’ll figure out over time what feels right for us and our community. If it needs to change, we’ll change it.”
So paid-for Skyrim mods are no more, but Valve’s announcement stops short of saying that paid-for mods won’t make a return in the future for other games, and they make it clear in their update that they still believe the feature could be useful. Whether or not the community will be less hostile towards their return in other games is less clear, but for now at least it appears that the community has managed to have its voice heard.