Monetization of Modding

There has been a very interesting and controversial development in the world of video games:

Valve’s Paid ‘Skyrim’ Mods Are A Legal, Ethical And Creative Disaster

To put it briefly, we seem to be witnessing the first major push to turn freely available video game mods into a commodity, and into a revenue stream for game publishers. The new arrangement allows mod developers to sell their work through the Steam service while channeling 75% of the revenue to Steam and the publisher.

Up to now, mods have only ever been monetized through development into proper full release titles. I personally have mixed feelings about this new development. On one hand, it will be great if the opportunity to earn an income from modding results in all kinds of new creative efforts that would have been too costly before. But the danger here is that if modding comes to be seen purely as a revenue source for copyright owners then it may be reduced to nothing more than that in the future. It isn’t difficult to imagine companies cut from the same cloth as Nintendo prohibiting mods that aren’t for sale and aren’t paying that 75% tax into the publisher’s pocket. And that would put modders who aspire to make their work freely available in a very strange position.

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