That didn’t take too long. Valve had a rough week trying to convince people that paying for Skyrim mods could be a good thing, but the community wasn’t biting. The deal allowed for modders to make money off of their hard work, with Valve and Bethesda taking a 75 percent cut.
Naturally, the Internet exploded with frustration, boosting free mods to the top of Steam’s popularity lists, down-voting Gabe Newell on Reddit, and concocting other creative means of Internet rebellion. Socially inept trolls issued death threats as well, but we don’t endorse these people. This forced monetization was overwhelmingly rejected by the Steam Workshop community, and the pressure became too much for both Bethesda and Valve.
The rebellion seems to have worked as well, because one week after announcing its plan, Valve is backing off. Valve employee Aldon Kroll addressed the issue in a Steam Community open letter.
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.
To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.
But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim’s workshop. We understand our own game’s communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there’s a useful feature somewhere here.
Now that you’ve backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we’ll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.
Bethesda also issued a statement on the cancellation in an update to a blog post post explaining its initial reasoning.
After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you.
And the modding world continues to spin as it always does. Valve will no doubt find another way to monetize the mod scene somewhere down the line, but it will not be through the Steam Workshop.