Gabe Newell Talks About New Modding Policy: “Our Goal is to Make Modding Better”

Posted Apr 26, 2015
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Gabe Newell, founder of Valve shared his thoughts on the new modding policy, via Reddit, where Gabe Newell answered a number of questions regarding the paid mod subject. Newell claims that Valve’s goal is to make modding better for both creators and gamers.

Gabe Newell explains:

“Our goal is to make modding better for the authors and gamers. If something doesn’t help with that, it will get dumped. Right now I’m more optimistic that this will be a win for authors and gamers, but we are always going to be data driven.”

Gabe Newell continued to explain why they chose Skyrim as the first title to try the new policy on:

“Skyrim is a great example of a game that has benefitted enormously from the MODs. The option for paid MODs is supposed to increase the investment in quality modding, not hurt it.

About half of Valve came straight out of the MOD world. John Cook and Robin Walker made Team Fortress as a Quake mod. Ice frog made DOTA as a Warcraft 3 mod. Dave Riller and Dario Casali we Doom and Quake mappers. John Guthrie and Steve Bond came to Valve because John Carmack thought they were doing the best Quake C development. All of them were liberated to just do game development once they started getting paid. Working at Waffle House does not help you make a better game.”

Newell explains that Valve loves MODs and PC’s open nature is why Valve exists. He then explains the reason behind Valve’s decision to support paid mods:

“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.”

Nexus Mods Founder, Robin Scott, asked Newell if Valve would do anything to prevent publishers from limiting mods to Steam Workshop, or even worse, to the paid workshop.

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 the case of Nexus, we’d be happy to work with you to figure out how we can do a better job of supporting you. Clearly you are providing a valuable service to the community. Have you been talking to anyone at Valve previously?

He continued to expand further upon the subject:

The one thing I’d ask you to think about is your request to put our foot down. We would be reluctant to force a game developer to do “x” for the same reason we would be reluctant to force a mod developer to do “x.” It’s just not a good idea. For example we get a lot of pressure to police the content on Steam. Shouldn’t there be a rule? How can any decent person approve of naked trees/stabbing defenseless shrubberies? It turns out that everything outrages somebody, and there is no set of possible rules that satisfies everyone. Those conversations always turn into enumerated lists of outrageous things. It’s a lot more tractable, and customer/creator friendly to focus on building systems that connect customers to the right content for them personally (and, unfortunately, a lot more work).

So, yes, we want to provide tools for mod authors and to Nexus while avoiding coercing other creators/gamers as much as possible.

Regarding people ripping mods from places like Nexus and re-uploading as their own, Newell said:

“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.”

After confirming that modders can indeed continue to release free mods of Steam Workshop (something that some seem to be misinterpreting, for some reason), Newell explained the philosophy behind the decision:

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.

Newell admitted that the original Counterstrike or DOTA wouldn’t have taken off if people had to pay for them when they were still mods:

No, they wouldn’t. Which is one of the reasons that we didn’t charge for them after they stopped being MODs (at least part of the time).

Free to play is an extension of that and is based on the aggregate incremental value of another player to all the other players.

A fan asked Gabe Newell why Valve was getting a 75% cut of profits, to which he explained that the cut is set by the game (each game sets its own share), and not by Valve. He also mentioned that a donation policy will be available where people can donate as much as they want, where the mod author can set the starting amount.

Skyrim Special Edition Update 1.2 Out For PS4 and PC; Xbox One Update Expected Later This Week

We will bring you any new information on the subject as soon as it becomes available.

What are your feelings on Valve’s new policy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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