An overwhelming mountain of criticism, including a petition signed by over 133,000 people, forced two giant game companies to pull a new feature that allowed people to charge for the modifications they made to the PC game “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”
Bethesda Game Studios, the maker of “Skyrim,” announced in a short update Monday night that it was removing paid mods from the Steam Workshop.
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.
Valve, which runs the Steam Workshop that lets people share and download player-created content to their PCs, offered up a much longer blog post.
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 have 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.
The joint venture was announced on Thursday, but an uproar from producers and consumers of ‘Skyrim’ mods forced Valve CEO Gabe Newell to host an emergency Reddit AMA to try and calm the angry masses. He answered many questions, but also had a few comments downvoted by several thousand people.
So what were people angry about? As we previously wrote, ‘Skyrim’ modders complained about setting their own prices but only getting 25% of the profits, while the remaining 75% would be split between Bethesda and Valve in some undisclosed fashion; mod creators would sometimes include other people’s mods in their own works, and it was unclear how to credit those people; the 24-hour return policy for mods many felt wasn’t enough time to explore a mod, especially when they were paying for it; and so on.
Paid ‘Skyrim’ modifications initially sounded like good news — since all ‘Skyrim’ mods are free by default, this would have offered content creators a regular way to paid for their work instead of relying on donations. And it could have resulted in some really interesting mods thanks to that added incentive. But good on Bethesda and Valve for recognising how it angered many of their customers, and making a quick decision to change.