Valve CEO Gabe Newell said that if the new Steam program that allows users to sell mods instead of just giving them away for free turns out to be bad for gamers, the company will ditch the idea.
“Our goal is to make modding better for the authors and gamers,” Newell said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread. “If something doesn’t help with that, it will get dumped. Right now I’m more optimistic that this will be a win for authors and gamers, but we are always going to be data driven.”
Newell also took a question from Nexus, a free modding community that’s been very concerned about Steam’s paid mods feature. Newell guaranteed that Valve isn’t asking developers to protect paid mods and make them available only through Steam, and that in general it’s against the company’s philosophy to tell developers they can’t do something, like give mods away for free on Nexus. He added that Valve would also be happy to work with Nexus to better support the community.
“The goal [of paid mods] is to increase the total investment the community makes in extending its games,” he said. “We thought we were missing some plumbing that was hampering that.”
Valve’s new modding program launched on Thursday only with Skyrim (other supported titles will be announced in the coming weeks), but it’s already caused a great deal of controversy. Many players are saying that Valve is greedy for allowing modders to sell work that was previously free, and one mod’s been removed after claims that it contained the work of another modder.
Newell didn’t seem concerned about cases like that becoming too common. “This is a straight-forward problem,” he said. “Between ours and the community’s policing, I’m confident that the authors will have control over their creations, not someone trying to rip them off.”
As for the current revenue split on paid Skyrim mods, which gives the creator of the mod only a 25 percent share of sales, Newell said: “The pay-outs are set by the owner of the game that is being modded. As I said elsewhere, if we are censoring, it’s dumb, ineffective, and will stop.”