So Bethesda is planning to bring in paid mods back for Fallout 4. While the basic idea of, as Bethesda put it, “supporting modders for their work” is rather complex and has numerous pros and cons, the Skyrim community did NOT like it. There were flame wars and unending revolt until Bethesda and Valve cancelled it. What the community took the most offence with was the break-up of the revenue from mod sales: Bethesda got a meaty 45% of the whole sale (on top of the sale from the base game, which came out in 2011 and is still selling like hot cakes), Valve kept 30% (their usual cut from all sales on Steam) and modders got a rather measly 25% from their mod. Mind, 25% is the standard cut of the sales on the Steam Workshop.
In an interview with GameSpot, Bethesda’s Peter Hines shared Bethesda’s side of the story. “I think our stance on it is we’re going to re-evaluate it going forward,” Hines said. “I think that we feel like there is a case to be made that people who spend a lot of time working on mods ought to be able to have a way of monetizing what they’re doing.” Hines also said that if the paid mod system does return, Bethesda would still expect to get a cut of the revenue– even if the percentage might change.
With regards to the complexity of the issue, Hines said “It’s sort of like having the world’s largest ball of yarn and deciding you’re going to unravel it,” he said. “Everything is so tied together that in some ways it’s almost impossible to do.” Which, if i may say so as a guy who has over 150 mods on his Skyrim, makes a lot of sense because in Skyrim, mods can feature anything, from 8K tomato retextures to Hogwarts from Harry Potter, to Ahnold (!). Copyright infringement may pass unnoticed while no money is involved, but money, as always, complicates matters.
Hines then wrapped up the interview by saying that “Honestly, [we have] bigger fish to fry right now than sorting that out.” Which means that Fallout 4 will probably get paid mods sometime in the unspecified future. Probably a bit down the line when it gets an established mod scene.
In my own humble opinion, Bethesda should probably count it’s blessings that a four year old buggy and half-finished game is still selling strongly, as even the mighty GTAs don’t sell this late in their life-cycles. Look at the sort of stuff Rockstar has had to do to keep people interested in GTA V three years after launch: they re-launched it twice, with considerable improvements every tme, and had to put in GTA Online and keep up a steady flow of free heists while Bethesda officially stopped working on Skyrim in April 2013. In fact, the game has had unofficial patches (these are the first mods you should install BTW) from the community which arguably finished the game. And people are still buying this game and actively developing for it. But then again, that’s just what I think, so do take it with a grain of salt (or ten thousand).
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