That didn't take long. Last Thursday, Valve rolled out a new feature as part of its Steamworks platform that allowed the sale of mods, and it took no time at all before what seemed like the entire Internet exploded at the seams and started flinging ire towards the company. Valve screwed up, and bad.
I hate to jump to conclusions, but I feel as though Valve had to have known there'd be some backlash to this. Let's be real: Valve understands the gamer market well. It's managed to monetize hats! It's also a company that built some successful franchises that had roots in free mods. Well, understanding that there will be manageable backlash is one thing, but what we got was something else - an eruption of anger.
The goings-on since late last week is impressive in itself, but there's another landmark moment here: Valve has reversed the rollout of this feature. No longer can you go and purchase mods for Skyrim, and anyone who bought one will have the money refunded.
In the official notice, Valve exercises some humility: "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."
Valve isn't a company that tends to leave things to chance, so I have no idea whether the entire message above is genuine. How could Valve think that giving the modder - the person that put the actual work into the item - deserves only 25%? How could it think that it could get away with selling mods, when the modding community has never had to go that route and has been enormously successful for decades?
Regardless of the truth behind the message, I think we can all agree that Valve made the right move here.