PH88: Thoughts on the Workshop Sitc.Posted: April 25, 2015
So what’s the deal with airline peanuts?
Or rather, in this case, the Valve/Steam Workshop situation. For those who are unaware, a few days ago the Steam-Valve team announced the Bloody Brilliant idea for allowing mod authors to charge money for SKYRIM MODS. If you’ve ever taken a look at the Steam Workshop (Skyrim’s especially) you’ll probably react the same way most everyone in the modding community did: “WHAT THE EVER LOVING [Chocolate Fudge Cake] ARE YOU THINKING!??!?!”
The place is, to quote an old movie, a “Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy.” Stolen mods have run rampant, and the workshop has not been well supervised. You could report to your hearts content and…. No? Really? You’re not going to remove it? Add MONEY into the situation now and you’ve got a pretty volatile mix.
Now, legit mod authors DO HAVE THE RIGHT to be paid for their work *IF* they so desire. And up until now, Mod Authors who have been compensated legally have done such through Donations and such. COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY, and best of all, direct donations would have the WHOLE DOLLAR AMOUNT go to the author. In the Steam Workshop case? Steam *AND* Bethesda are raking in a grand total of *75%* of every dollar sold to a mod! And yes, any mod that is set up to be paid for
*HAS TO BE AT A BARE MINIMUM OF $.99!!!*[EDIT4/25/15: I’ve been informed that apparently there *ARE* mods selling at $0.25 So either I was blind as a bat and missed them, or this is a recent change since I posted this. GLUBSHRUG Either way, this sentence is wrong. Eh, oh well. if there’s other stuff wrong in here, it doesn’t really matter. this is mainly a thought piece.]
How much are the mod author’s getting? A whopping 25% of every sale…. oh, and the *best* Part? They don’t see a SINGLE CENT until a mod sells *$400* and they get…. you guessed it without even a drum roll… *$100!*
This smells like a *Very* Blatant *CON JOB* to me. Valve’s lawyers haven’t done their best of jobs yet either. ALREADY some mods have been REMOVED due to legal issues that Valve’s OWN LAWYERS DIDN’T SEE AS A CONCERN. Just think on that for a moment. Who’s bright idea was this? Valve’s? Beth-soft’s?
By Talos! What a mess! Even the Aldmeri Dominion didn’t cause this much of a— oh. Wait. Nevermind.
Regardless of whose “bright” idea this was, we are now in a situation where the Skyrim modding community is basically in a state of flux because of one simple fact: Skyrim Modding was built upon the stations of CO-OPERATION. Almost ALL MODS require either SK(yrim)S(cript)E(xtender) or SkyUI- just to get you started. That doesn’t even BEGIN to dig into the VAST sprawling root system of interconnected bonds of cooperation that’s happened over the FOUR YEARS since Skyrim came out. (Why now? I suppose it should be asked. The most likely reason is that “They” are testing the waters for Fallout 4 or The Elder Scrolls 6, both of which are suspects for an announcement at the next E3.)
The long and short of it is that the Skyrim Mod community- like a vast majority of the world- is yelling a loud and resound “FUS RO NO FREAKING WAY!” when the Rich make a VERY blatant grab for more money to make them even MORE richer. This is a generational issue. The Last Generation *DOES NOT* Understand the *Current* Generation. That’s a whole ‘nother argument for a whole ‘nother place, but the general issue here is the SAME THING. We raised our voices when Comcast tried to buy out Time Warner and- Oh, hey, did you hear the news? They GAVE UP. Comcast *GAVE UP* on their merger plans because PEOPLE PROTESTED LIKE MAD WITHOUT STOPPING.
We only lose when we *SUBMIT* to the rule of a higher power without fighting for our OWN RIGHTS AND— oh, would you look at that! ANOTHER Aldmeri Dominion Comparison to the modern day world. GEE! It’s almost like we’re reading some kind of hyper predictive fourth wall breaking Magical Scrolls and— Oh. Riiiiiiiight. I see where this is going.
The basic problem here is that Modding a game is like writing Fanfiction to some degree. It is a [FAN CREATED CONTENT] that is [SET IN A FICTIONAL WORLD] that the [PRODUCER] of said [CONTENT] doesn’t have the legal rights to *SELL.*
Sure, you have situations now where people can write *LICENSED* Fanfiction on things like that Kindle device that’s gotten so popular… But, lemme spell out one major difference here.
A BOOK IS NOTHING LIKE A COMPUTER GAME MOD.
For those of you who haven’t, take a look at the mod list on the Entering Skyrim main page. Take a Nice. Long. Scroll. I’ll wait. No rush.
Okay? You’re back? Do you *SEE* how *MANY* mods I have in my list? Now, see, I *HAVE* To maintain a short mod list for filming stability! Even then- Only *79* out of *100 mods* I’ve downloaded are currently *ENABLED* in my load order. That’s not even going into the ones that I’ve downloaded but not YET installed! That number stretches onwards for *QUITE* a bit longer, as a matter of fact!
So think on that for a moment. If the minimum payment for a Steam Workshop mod is $1.00, times 100, that means I’d be paying close to about, yes, $100 US Currency *JUST* to film Dovah’s Mind over the last several years! And that’s ONTOP of my purchase of the Base Game, DLCs, AND the Video editing software as well. And if the mods vary in price depending on how much content they add? My cost to produce suddenly *SKYROCKETS.*
Needless to say if I were getting into Skyrim modding *NOW* instead of several years ago? I would NOT be incentivized to even BUY the game.
Many people mod their games as a HOBBY. I started Entering Skyrim and Dovah’s Mind as HOBBIES. Hobbies, much like Fanfiction. When you write fanfiction, or make a mod, as a HOBBY, you’re doing it for FUN. You’re doing it to put stuff out there for YOUR OWN BENEFIT AND ENJOYMENT. So what if other people want to donate to you? That’s their money and their free to spend it any way they want to.
Now lemme say something. The writing tie-in thing on Kindle? That is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ANIMAL from writing fanfiction, even though you ARE basically writing the same kind of story set in someone-else’s Universe! You have to work and abide by the IP owner’s RULES AND CONDITIONS. The way the Kindle system is set up- you see a list of universes that are *OPEN* to being written for. You contact that person in charge and say, “im looking to write for this universe!” and then you’re working on COMMISSION.
You are being *PAID* to *WRITE* in that person’s universe!
This is where the Steam Workshop situation falls apart. If Valve and Bethesda had instead gone about this in this way- Allowing a person to HIRE a Mod Author to MAKE a mod that then goes up onto the workshop- that would be a VASTLY BETTER SYSTEM than what is up there RIGHT NOW.
Instead, Steam has it set up so that in order to even get a *CERTAIN MOD* for a *CERTAIN GAME* that you have *ALREADY PAID FOR,* you must now pay *additional money* to get that certain mod??? And it’s very obvious that some mod authors are being DUPED into this without even knowing what it is they’re agreeing to. Plus, apparently the Storage Space for Skyrim mods on Steam’s workshop is hosted on an account’s *Cloud* which means that your space for uploading large mods- or multiple tiny ones- is going to DROP. Rapidly.
Like an eagle. Piloting the Hindenburg.
This is already 1270 words and climbing so I’m going to end this about here. TL;DR: There is a REASON a vast majority of Skyrim Mod-creators are protesting this stupid kerfuffle that Steam has oh-so-“lightly” dropped into our lives like a molten anvil onto a sun-burned foot. There is a reason that I am writing this post.
That reason is simple: