This week’s controversy is about Steam’s new paid mods initiative, and whether it will destroy modding as we know it. We had some thoughts about that, and obviously so does Gabe Newell, what with him being Chief Headcrab Wrangler over at Valve. Yesterday, Newell took to Reddit to answer questions about the initiative—questions like “What’s up with all the banning and censoring of people complaining about this feature?”, and “Isn’t the 75% cut seen as a bit high?” I can’t even see any questions about Half-Life 3; people are that angry/passionate about paid mods being on Steam.
Thanks to Reddit’s new Q&A sorting feature, it’s actually possible to parse this AMA, so you can find his responses fairly easily for once. However, I’ve picked out a few choice quotes below.
In response to a question about Steam banning/censoring discussion about paid mods:
“Well, if we are censoring people, that’s stupid. I’ll get that to stop. On top of it being stupid, it doesn’t work (see Top Gear forums on Jeremy Clarkson).”
Replying to Robin, the owner of Nexus Mods, who wants Valve to prevent the “DRMification” of mods:
“In general we are pretty reluctant to tell any developer that they have to do something or they can’t do something. It just goes against our philosophy to be dictatorial.
“With that caveat, we’d be happy to tell developers that we think they are being dumb, and that will sometimes help them reflect on it a bit.”
In response to a request to add a donation button to paid mod pages on Steam:
“We are adding a pay what you want button where the mod author can set the starting amount wherever they want.”
In reply to concerns that Valve might require exclusivity for mods:
“Exclusivity is a bad idea for everyone. It’s basically a financial leveraging strategy that creates short term market distortion and long term crying.”
Newell explaining the reasoning behind the initiative:
“Our view of Steam is that it’s a collection of useful tools for customers and content developers.
“With the Steam workshop, we’ve already reached the point where the community is paying their favorite contributors more than they would make if they worked at a traditional game developer. We see this as a really good step.
“The option of MOD developers getting paid seemed like a good extension of that.”
On stolen/plagiarised content appearing in the Workshop:
“This is a straight-forward problem. 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 he wrote his replies in a coffee shop yesterday, Gabe Newell was drinking a “vanilla steamer”. I have yet to google what that is.