So, less than a week ago, Valve and Bethesda decided to incorporate paid for mods into everyone’s favorite high fantasy sandbox, Skyrim. As you can expect, the internet completely kept their cool with this news and maturely prompted a wide range of intellectual discourse weighing up the merits and disadvantages of such a system.
And then I quickly snapped back to reality and checked my phone, just in time to see another 140 character figurative lump of shit being flung at the walls of the Internet superhighway…
Rampant fecal tossing analogies aside, folk were visibly pissed at Valve and Bethesda’s plan to monetize previously free mods (which would see them pocket 75% of the sale) and stuck it to Valve- and specially Gabe- in the most hurtful way they could. Yes. They downvoted the shit out of him on Reddit.
Clearly this hurt the big guy something fierce, which promoted Valve employee Aldon Kroll to post this on the Steam Community portal:
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.
Bethesda– possibly scared of also being downvoted on everyone’s favorite time killing website- threw out a long and wordy PR statement. This is the only bit that really matters though and it accounts to ‘ooops, our bad’.
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.
So, the lesson I’m taking away from this is that downvoting someone on Reddit spurs them to cave like 1970’s nuclear reactor. Hmmmm. Can we rally together and downvote Putin then?…Or pants? Pants have had too good of a run for far too long!