Every week we discuss hotly debated topics, ask silly questions, and answer questions we hear a lot while gaming in FAQ. This week the gaming community has been talking a lot about the idea of mod creators getting paid for the mods they make. Valve made this option available on Steam for Skyrim mods but it wasn’t long before it was taken down again. Yet the debate still moves on. This most likely isn’t the last we’ve seen of the idea. Which is why this week I asked the writers at MMOGames, should mod creators get paid?
Daniel Chambliss – Yes
That’s actually a tricky question. It’s kind of like asking people if they should be paid for fan fiction. Here’s the problem: we already HAVE paid people for mods. If you’ve ever played Counterstrike or Team Fortress Classic, then you’ve played a game that started out as a mod, and let’s face it, they’re damn good. Bethesda says that mod developers are just that, developers, and they do need compensation if they’re going to continue doing what they do full time. Without mods, the PC gaming industry would not survive, and for that reason I say yes, the best modders should be paid, and too many people want something for nothing.
Ryan Ocello – No
Is the question should modders be paid, or is it do they have the right to be paid?
The right, no. I look at mods the way I look at fanfic: it’s not your work, no matter how much effort you put into it. You are latching onto someone else’s product and adding a tiny bit of seasoning, instead of doing the work to make something whole. I usually have very little respect for law and copyright (yarrr) only game creators have creative rights. And no developer has to grant permission to others, especially if concerned about quality control or about amateurs cutting into sales of their own DLC.
Not even if the games actually need the mods, if without a community generating fan-made content the games aren’t good enough to stay popular on their own. In that case developers might be pieces of crap to deny that community its own means of compensation, but they still aren’t obligated to allow it. Fan-art doesn’t convey rights to profit.
But that’s not the current situation. Right now there’s a community of modders that were suddenly given the option to sell their work, and then had it taken away after there were complaints.
I’m not defending the execution of the plan that was made. That system was a mess and doomed to fail, but it wasn’t wrong in principle.
Once a game service and game copyright holders have decided to grant them permission then the audience doesn’t get a vote. Once it was offered then absolutely the modders gained every right to take the hard work they’ve done and try to get something back. No one is forced to buy it. And the modders certainly don’t owe a whiny audience free content, regardless of what they’ve given in the past.
Nick Shively – Yes
Deciding whether mod creators should get paid or not for their work seems like an unfair question. I believe that everyone should get paid for their work and especially so if it’s something that other people can benefit from. However, it should be up to the mod creator to decide how or even if they’re paid. When a big company steps in and tells modders that the only way they can get paid is if they give up a large percentage of the money then that can create a lot of problems. There are plenty of other ways to obtain funding including donations and crowdsourcing, but obviously having a large entity, such as Steam, run the financing makes everything smoother. Mods becomes a lot more open to the general public, restrictions and can put off both modders and potential customers.
There’s also a very positive aspect to monetary compensation for mod creators. First off, it’s more likely that they would be willing to finish their work in a timely fashion and put together much higher quality mods. I know of a few mods that have been in the development stage for months or even years because their creators didn’t have the time or resources to finish them. If there’s money involved, as well as a demand, someone is going to create the mods people want. Furthermore, it would incentivize more people to learn how to mod to either save money, by not having to buy mods, or earn a little extra cash. The problem is finding the perfect balance that’s good for the developer, the mod creator and the average player. Any restrictions that make the transaction uncomfortable for any party involved is going to have a negative impact on the modding community in general.
Hannah Richardson-Lewis – No
That’s quite the loaded question. They shouldn’t not get paid for their work, but at the same time, video game mods are created as a labor of love and while I don’t agree that people should never get paid for doing something they love, I don’t know if I personally would pay for mods. But then, why shouldn’t these people who put so much time and effort into these creations get a little back for it? I think my preferred answer to this question has to be no. Mod creators shouldn’t expect payment for their work. After all, they are creating, but they are creating for a copyrighted item and with that comes a whole other argument. However, there is no reason why mod creators can’t request donations to aid them while they create or set up Patreons to help them financially to create the fan content that people really want.
Jonathan Doyle – Have the Choice To
By the time I earned my first $19 selling software, I’d spent 8 years and 16,000 hours programming as a hobbyist.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) April 30, 2015
As you can see opinions on the matter are split pretty evenly. But how do you feel about it? Would you ever pay for a mod? Should mod creators get paid? Let us know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below.Related: Column, FAQ, Real Life, Steam