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Should mods be free?

In recent thread hijack a heated conversation about the gaming industry and monitisation got me to thinking.

I originally bought Skyrim on PS3 and completed it.

This year I bought it again, purely for the mods, to get another experience out of the same game, without just repeating what i did before.

Now, those modders spent many hundreds of hours of their time creating small items through to complete vast new continents equivalent to DLC from the dev. I was sort of lucky as I entered the PC market for Skyrim (5?) years after its release, so there were an abundance of quality mods there to choose from.

Is it fair Bestheda got 100% revenue from my PC version? Yes. For the engine.
Is it fair that the modders are not allowed to charge and their work is treated as hobby stuff that they are sharing with the community? I think not, especially when it was the mods that stimulated the purchase of the core game.

I am fully in favor of free mods being shared with the community, and generous modders who do it for free for the fun :clap:

But, lets think about and challenge this.

If a planned mod was going to consume 6 months of someones time, then assuming they need to make a living, so could only do a couple of hours a night on average, that would take many years to complete and very likely fall by the wayside and never transpire. :thumbdown:

But if that modder can earn a living, or at least justify their time financially for the 6 months making the mod, in order to develop the mod (sound familiar?) then he/she will crack on full time and make the mod. :thumbup:

Professional developers would also be inclined to look at this rather than say do another phone app. More quality mods.

This benefits the community with an abundance of quality mods that are fast to market.
This benefits the modders, who can devote their time whilst paying their bills (at some point).
This benefits LT as it will help attract more sales.
This benefits Josh for LT sales, and a cut of the mod fee such as Valve or App Stores take.

Consumers get a trusted, tested mod, reasonably priced with controls by the LTstore so no nasty pay to win models or anything transpire. (pay to win on a SP game???? you know what I mean!)

My vision of this game is ultimately to land on planets and have a large GTA/Skyrim/Sim City type game depending on the planets level of advancement, and loads of mini games within those and further mods etc. Each planet.

This will take a huge amount of effort and multiple mods. I am looking to learn modding, but I can't tackle that on my own. I would however be more than happy along the way to support modders financially, if their mods helped me achieve this. Especially if it wouldn't happen otherwise. I don't think Paypal donate buttons will cut it.

On the flip side, if I put the effort in and my mods are well received and help other players achieve their dream game, and I could scratch a living playing and modding LT, wow. How many of you are thinking same? But this isn't about me making money off the back of LT, this is about me getting to market the ultimate game I want to play and more from the point of view of being the consumer.

Food for thought ...

Edit: Long thread, you can skip to my summary on page 9
Last edited by aspman on Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Should mods be free?

I absolutely agree, some modders really do deserve to be able to monetize their work. Although they use an established game (and often the SDK provided) as a basis, I don't find it fair that the developer/publisher automagically snags copyrights to the mod. Reminds me of the old Atari ways of treating devs.

The dev definitely deserves portion of the money, since you use their licensed SDK, not to mention the popularity of their game, but some sort of monetization might actually help the scene out.

Now only if gamers would be more willing to open their wallets and not get outraged by having to pay for fan-made content, huh? :lol: The whole AppStore concept sounds pretty fun though.

Re: Should mods be free?

I agree too. If a mod is of the same quality as a piece of DLC, why not pay for it?
The problem is you need permission of the game devs to ask for money, and the only devs I know of that actually allow that are Valve.
Oh, and the public opinion seems to be very much set against the idea of mods asking for money, for some reason. :?
Warning: do not ask about physics unless you really want to know about physics.
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Re: Should mods be free?

N810 wrote:I think you are confusing Mods with expansion packs and DLC. :|
Whats the difference between a DLC which takes 6 man-months or a mod which took 6 man-months?

Both of comparable quality and size.

But one has an official tag on it and another not.

Wheres the conceptual difference?

Why should the modding team not be allowed to ask for some monetary compensation?

Re: Should mods be free?

Dinosawer wrote: Oh, and the public opinion seems to be very much set against the idea of mods asking for money, for some reason. :?
I actually heard the opinion that "I was persistent enough to save up for a gaming PC, I'm entitled to free games".
Yanno, kinda like how when you are poor but manage to buy a car, gas becomes free and taxes are forfeit.

People don't like to pay for digital stuff, unless it's super convenient and has some psychological hooks in it (like sales!). Somehow, unless you can eat it or hug it, it's got no value or respect.

The Oatmeal got it right.

Re: Should mods be free?

I have donated to modding groups before. Some of the stuff that has come out of FSO is absolutely amazing and would rival, if not beat, 1st party DLC.

I think if something is done well enough, regardless of the time it takes, then there should be some compensation (if that's what they want).

Reminds me back in the day of Duke Nukem 3D when there were expansions for the game that were somewhat official where the fans were the ones that contributed some of the maps. Like Duke It Out In DC, or Nuclear Winter, or Life's a Beach.
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.

Re: Should mods be free?

I am glad its not just me that feels this way :D

Take another example; wordpress blogging system. This is actually free software, with thousands of free modules kindly donated, but also many "commercial grade" applications that you can buy.

It is the perception that "mods should be free" that needs challenging as per above.

I think Josh is in an ideal position here to set a new better model going with an app/mod store within a game engine. Imagine whilst actually playing you hit a button on the UI to bring up the nexus type thing, see a mod you fancy and make a micro transaction and bang the mod is delivered and working without leaving the game. Fantastic!

I am envisaging micro-transactions here to be clear, $1 - $5 kind of price, although that would be up to the modder of course.

DWmagnus, could this thread be moved to the general forum? I think input so far is probably from the programming types and many "normal" players probably don't read the "scripting and modding" forum and I would like to see what they think.
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Re: Should mods be free?

Moved. ;)

But honestly, with how powerful LTSL is, I wouldn't be surprised if someone creates a COMPLETELY different game with it. If it's good enough, that is definitely a good example of something that can be charged for.

Problem with some mods like what LTSL will spawn, is the whole fact that everything is out in the open. It's hard to sell something someone can just copy and paste contents from.
Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.

Re: Should mods be free?

Hmm. Mods have pretty much always been free. So let's see. There are generally two types of people who mod, ones who do it for fun and/or to learn how to code, and ones who feel they should get paid for it.

Now I am not opposed to rewarding someone who puts in effort to make something fun, but as far as mods are concerned, I think it should be a situation where they can take donations if people are so inclined, but not to force them, because there are some people who might be willing to pay for it, and others who never will.

If you want to get paid for coding, then perhaps you should either create your own game, or go work for someone who makes games. Just my thoughts on it.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Re: Should mods be free?

I think selling mods as principle is wrong but find the donating practices very acceptable. As stated before by others here: work should be allowed to be compensated, specially if the quality is up to pair or even better. But starting a project with the only objective to earn coin out of something that is essentially free shouldn't be allowed. For instance, what happens if somebody starts a KS campaign to make a game using LTSL?
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Re: Should mods be free?

Dinosawer wrote:
N810 wrote:I think you are confusing Mods with expansion packs and DLC. :|
I'm not. :?
My point was that the best mods have so much content they could have been expansion packs or DLC.
I just meant that if you are selling your work, then the name of your work changes.

the term Mod insinuates that it is free.

If you call it an unofficial expansion pack or something like that, you could probably get away with charging for it.
(with joshes permission)
Last edited by N810 on Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
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Re: Should mods be free?

I kind of disagree with this actually.

I think the reason modding for Elder Scrolls games or Fallout is so popular is specifically because it is free and that Bethesda provides a solid modding tool with their game (for free).

Throughout the years I have added tons of mods to the games and used them for like a day and then removed them because I didn't like it or just wanted to try something else. If all of a sudden the mods cost money then there would be less trying random mods like that becuase every kid who makes a subtle mod that changes barely anything would be charging some amount of money for it. The fact that they are all free makes it so you can just try whatever one you happen to find and if you don't like it then it cost you nothing. That is specifically why its so popular.

The modding groups can get donations as mentioned before, so they can be compensated by people who think they deserve it. I don't think modding games should be considered a new carreer path for people. If anything, if you want to break into the games industry then you can use it as a tool to make a good portfolio to apply at games companies or just to learn game design and then make your own game. This has actually worked for some people in the past. I remember someone doing a conversion mod to FO and getting a job at a game company based on it.

Re: Should mods be free?

I think that mods should be free to download and use. I also think that if a person enjoys a mod there should be an option to pay the creator(s) of the mod. This should really be the case if the player created a mod in response to a post in the Suggestion forum.

If all or most of the quality mods are expensive fewer people will be able to enjoy those modifications.

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