SteamMods

Alden Kroll, on the Steam Workshop community page:

We’re going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we’ll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.

We’ve done this because it’s clear we didn’t understand exactly what we were doing. We’ve been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they’ve been received well. It’s obvious now that this case is different.

Sad that they didn't even get to the point where the market got to even this out, as Garry Newman suggested in his own great blog post on the subject. I don't typically download mods, free or otherwise, as I'm sort of a bizarre purist when it comes to stuff like that. However, as someone who works for a software company and who knows people who design games and apps and what not, I feel that creators of great content should be compensated in some way. People are literally adding additional value to your initial purchase, and to violently reel against the idea of providing them with any sort of financial incentive to do so is some next level entitled bullshit.

Now, of course, there are members of the gaming community that brought up excellent points with regards to the implementation of such a system (stolen mods being resold by people who didn't develop them, the unusually large cut of money being taken by Valve and the developer of the original game, the idea that support for a paid mod could be dropped at any time, etc.), and I fully trust that Valve would continue to make efforts to build upon their initial foundation and create something great (remember when Steam was still young?). However, the few rational thoughts I saw were drowned in a sea of, "Mods have always been free and I don't want that to change." Which leads me to the main thing that bothers me about all of this.

The gaming community has been one of the most vocal opponents of change I've seen. They dislike any sort of model that clashes with their nostalgic ideals of how gaming used to be. We see this in things like Gamergate, in the angry rants against DLC, and now in the fight against paying modders fairly for the work they do. And this is just a small sampling off the top of my head from just the past few years. The people in this community aren't concerned about the health of gaming as a whole (or about ethics in game journalism, ahem). Instead, they're more concerned about preserving the status quo. They don't want their own feathers ruffled, and by god they will rant and rave and take to their forums to rally the troops behind their selfish cause and set things right.

Don't get me wrong, I know that these gamers are just a very small, and very, very vocal minority who don't represent the opinions of video game players as a whole. The Internet has a nasty habit of skewing visibility toward the more persistent sect of a community (and bowing to this small group, as Valve did in this situation, is troubling). The squeakiest of wheels get the oil, so to speak, even if those wheels are actually attached to a small wagon buried under a vast array of other decrepit and useless conveyances, all of which are being carried by a much larger and more efficient semi-truck. This metaphor is falling apart. I guess, to me, it's just disheartening to see small portions of this community time and time again go out of their way to scream and cry and bully their opponents into submission. It doesn't make me feel good about my pastime of choice, the thing that has helped bring me joy and dull some of the harsher aspects of reality throughout the years. Instead, it makes me embarrassed. I don't feel good about identifying as a gamer anymore. I keep to my close friends and discuss with them the things that interest me about games now. I don't dare to venture into the comments section of most sites (and god forbid I stumble upon a link in /r/gaming), because I know my thoughtful, measured approach to innovation or change is not welcome among the vicious throngs infesting them. My neutrality in the ongoing inane console wars (I have both main systems, and a PC, all of which I enjoy gaming on) has no place in their discussion. It goes against the narrative they're trying so hard to promote.

I suspect the other quiet ones like me, the vast majority of people who like to support games, the artists that makes them, the companies that allow us to consume them, and the people who tirelessly support them with their own content, are just standing on the sidelines and quietly shaking our heads as we saw what could have been a good idea fall to shambles in front of our eyes. All because of the knee-jerk reactions of some armchair quarterbacks.

Disappointing.