Easing the consumer into having to pay for a service that would normally be free is never an easy task and Valve seemed to just ignore this step, instead jumping from announcement straight in to implementation. They probably should have considered some type “Beta” for this, although I’m not entirely sure how you could go about doing that. Then again I am not a marketing professional or a professional of any type so I’m most likely wrong in thinking that way but it just seems to make sense to me.
What I really want to talk about the reactions from the community. It was truly a reality check for the modders. They learned very quickly that they are not appreciated and the vast majority of the community sees them as nothing more than tools. Tools designed to do nothing but produce content for the masses free of charge and with no recognition. If they should ever be foolish enough to ask for monetary compensation for the thousands of hours that they spend creating these mods that hundreds of thousands of people download and enjoy; they had better be ready to be treated like Muslims the day after 9/11. If you think that seems like and extreme comparison, trust me it’s nothing compared to what some people had to say to Valve and developers in the Steam Workshop.
That doesn’t mean that I agree with what Valve was trying to do here. It simply means that I find fault in both parties. The only people who are genuinely innocent here are the modders themselves. That’s not to say that all of them were happy about users having to pay for mods, in fact there are a few who were just as angry as the users. Pointing out that while there are people who only do things like this for the notoriety and the chance to have a career, there are also many who do it simply because they enjoy doing so. They were met of course by scorn and a miles wide rainbow worth of insults and death threats.
By the time anyone reads this, the whole problem will have been dealt with and the steam community will have been returned to somewhat of a normal state, for the time being. Now the worst part about this whole ordeal is that the only people who are going to suffer in the long run are the players. It is absolutely inexcusable the way the community handled this situation. More than that though it’s absolutely absurd for those same players to expect the modders to come back and continue offering their services for free, to a group of people who clearly don’t appreciate the immense amount of work the game extending gifts they have been given.
The way that so many of these people acted just blew my mind. I was a little bummed when I heard that Skyrim mods would have to be paid for. Like everyone else I was used to jumping on Steam or Nexus and downloading whatever I wanted. From Light sabers to Tropic graphical overhauls of huge areas in the game, the things that people dreamt up to do to this game were endless. Now because of the foolish actions of so many we may never see these things again.
Maybe it’s a good thing though; this is a story that garnered a lot of attention in the gaming industry. Given that most developers are now aware of the existence of some of the more prominent modders, it would be a massive misstep on their part not to employ most of them immediately. If it were my decision I would put some of these people in charge of their own development teams and see what they could do with a budget normally reserved for AAA titles.
Regardless of what I have to say on the subject, the truth is that things will probably never change until companies are willing to take the risk. The risk of not publishing and producing the same cookie cutter games we have been playing for the past ten years.