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Bethesda breaks down why Skyrim modders ought to be paid

Bethesda Softworks has published a lengthy explanation of why it agreed to let Skyrim be the guinea pig for the (aborted) launch of Valve's premium mod storefronts.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

April 27, 2015

2 Min Read

"We believe the best [modders] should be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are."

- Excerpt from Bethesda's public statement on why it experimented with paid mods on Steam.

In the wake of Gabe Newell's weekend Reddit Q&A on the topic, Bethesda Softworks has published a lengthy explanation of why it agreed to let Skyrim be the guinea pig for the launch of Valve's premium mod storefronts.

This is a big deal: Valve updated Steam last week to allow Steam Workshop users to charge real money for mods, starting with Skyrim. This incited many modding enthusiasts to voice concerns for the future of free mod development while others welcomed a new avenue for more content creators to earn money from their work.

However, shortly after Bethesda published its blog post Valve changed its mind, removed all paid Skyrim mods from Steam and issued refunds to anyone who'd bought one. Nevertheless, the (updated) Bethesda post still holds some points of interest for game developers.

A big point of concern was the defunct initiative's revenue split, which was set by a game's creator/publisher; Bethesda gave Skyrim modders a 25 percent cut of whatever they sold, and today the company says that even that minor cut has led to some mod makers earning more than Bethesda developers.

"This is not some money-grabbing scheme by us," reads the blog post, which also clarifies that Valve took a flat 30 percent cut of all mod sales revenue. "Even now, at 25% and early sales data, we’re looking at some modders making more money than the studio members whose content is being edited."

As far as concerns about locking mods behind paywalls go, Bethesda claims to vehemently support free and open mod development ("we want more mods, easier to access, we’re anti-DRM as far as we can be") but also believes that allowing mod creators to charge for their work will encourage more people to spend time modding games.

"Only 8% of the Skyrim audience has ever used a mod. Less than 1% has ever made one," reads the post. "[Valve] showed, quite clearly, that allowing content creators to make money increased the quality and choice that players had."

You can read the full post over on the Bethesda blog.

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