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Valve Employee Admits They May Be “Completely Wrong” Regarding Paid Mods

| April 26, 2015

Valve Employee Admits They May Be "Completely Wrong" Regarding Paid Mods News  Valve Steam PC GAMES

Here comes the next installment in Steam’s paid mods shitstorm debate. To catch those up to speed who may not be aware of what’s taken place over the past couple days, Valve implemented paid mods into the Steam Workshop and was met with overwhelming rage from the PC community. Now one of Valve’s own employees has provided his take on the the hot topic that has been unfolding. Robin Walker, known for the “Team Fortress” Quake mod before joining Valve, responded to an email regarding the sudden monetization of mods.

The email begins as one would expect, with Walker defending the new system. But it ends in a surprising way. Valve’s employee closes his email with the following statement:

…we may be completely wrong. In anything as complex as today’s games environment, you can never be certain in any prediction. If it turns out we are wrong, and that this somehow results in fewer good mods, or no free ones, or unhappy mod makers, then we’ll fix it, even if that means removing the feature entirely. The fundamental strength of the PC is that PC gamers improve their games, with or without the support of the developer, and we have every interest in keeping that alive.

Walker’s statement has given hope to the vast majority hoping for a tweak or complete removal of the new model. In fact, the closing words of this employee provided more comfort to PC gamers than Gabe Newell himself.

Newell, often referred to as GabeN wherever PC gaming is discussed, took to the subreddit /r/gaming for an AMA to address the issue head on. In an unexpected turn of events, his responses were met with disapproval and a slew of downvotes. It was definitely a surprise to see a lesser known Valve employee receive more praise than the once praised CEO.

The controversial decision continues to grow in intensity and the PC community is showing no sign of letting up. If Robin Walker’s email means anything, we may see Valve ditch their latest idea if the negativity persists.

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  • Jurie Boshoff

    They made a mistake. It happens. Just let them know you don’t like it and move on. They are humans and they tried something new.

    • Nick

      I don’t think it’s right to say they made a mistake. They know exactly what they are doing.

      This is a blatent cash grab from Valve & Bethesda, if it wasn’t the latter wouldn’t be taking 45% of the money made despite putting in no work whatsoever into these mods. Yes, they developed the original game, and they already got paid for that work when we all bought it!

      They knew this would result in a massive shitstorm, and they don’t care, because their financial people have worked out that they stand to make more money from mods (10k in one day from 19 mods already) than they’ll lose due to the backlash. They were expecting this. They wont change it. They’ll make more money without giving a damn as to what it does to the modding community.

      • David Lopez

        Actually, read all of what Gaben said in Reddit.
        I’m starting to think they genuinely didn’t think it would get this bad.
        I think Valve isn’t evil, just incredibly stupid.

        • Lepandas Lemandas
          • Jonas

            Which doesn’t really dispute David’s assertion that Valve was stupid, not evil. I mean, seriously, at face value, there ARE some legitimate arguments for letting modders get paid like this, and I don’t think most reasonable people would have expected the shitstorm this kicked up.

          • Brigand231

            “Most reasonable people” haven’t bothered to look look into modding culture, then. We’re happy when one of our own makes it big, but we also know that it happens as often as an enthusiastic sandlot ball player joins Major League Baseball.

          • tracey marie

            Reddit lololololol

        • 4322312

          Valve is incredibly stupid. Listen to their talks on “data driving decisions”. That stupid philosophy is exactly what led them to implement this garbage system.

          Their claims that the “data” proves their decisions were correct are completely wrong. They aren’t measuring correctly. It would be like me putting an alarm system on my house, then making the claim that since fewer people broke into my house, that some criminals have been reformed. That’s a completely incorrect conclusion not supported by the evidence. But, those are the types of conclusions the idiots at Valve are coming up with. Because they hired a group of imbeciles who probably copied Wikipedia to get their degrees and don’t understand basic science.

      • David Stevens

        Exactly its like Bethesda is saying “Wow the modding community kept people playing our games and increased their popularity, lets ask for more money from people who already bought the game and take money for things we didn’t create! Genius!”

        • Guest

          Not to mention the potentially irreversible damage their “little” experiment caused to the modding community..

      • Jurie Boshoff

        As far as Bethesda is concerned, I can definitely call it a a cash grab when they heard someone may make money without them.
        However, Valve was right in the 30% cut for providing the distribution and content service. It’s just like Apples 30% cut for devs. Ultimately Valve held at a 30% cut for being a distro, but this could only really benefit Bethesda as they have no expenses to account for, for them it is pure profit.
        Really Bethesda taking a cut at all is a little but of a dick move because mods only A) Benefit their community and Franchise, and B) Provide a creative medium for the community. When they start taking money for work they had nothing to do with, it becomes dickish. If they cared about their Creative Works they would instead police the community. But it is obvious they only care about their Financial Work once a title is off the press.

        My point was that the angry backlash towards Valve is wrong. They are one of the few companies that will listen to what customers say and make calculated and fair moves. Crucifying them will only burn that bridge.

    • Alias McCoy

      They have absolutely no intention of ceasing this practice unless extended protest is made.

    • New? their core business is selling mods they didn’t make, but were made for free by the community. And then getting more cash from mods for these mods. Team Fortress, Counterstrike, Day of Defeat, DOTA… hiring the guys who came with the base idea of these mods in my opinion doesn’t grant Valve the rights over the entire mod, giving that most of the maps were done by the community and that these mods are NOTHING without these maps. And yet they did it, and made them really successful.

      So… no, this is sadly not new.

      • Jurie Boshoff

        This is new. Hiring mod creators to make extended and standalone versions of their mod, and selling community skins for $1.99 are different, and the latter is new for Valve. They tried to test the waters with the Counter-Strike skins drops, but it was a far sight more blunt to ask money for actual mods.

    • Jonas

      >Just let them know you don’t like it and move on.

      Hahaha. No. Won’t work. You say you don’t like it once and move on, then you just told everyone involved that you don’t really care at all. That’s fine. You don’t want to care? You don’t *HAVE* to care. But telling other people that DO care that they’re not allowed to show that they care? No. Go away. If someone wants a resolution, they gotta raise a stink.

      >They made a mistake.

      Perhaps. Perhaps not. They had this shit under NDA’s for a while though. Makes a more suspicious person believe that they knew this was going to be a shitstorm and wanted to push it through anyways. That’s not making a mistake, that’s deliberate action.

      • Jurie Boshoff

        My point was that the angry backlash towards Valve is wrong. They are one of the few companies that will listen to what customers say and make calculated and fair moves. Crucifying them will only burn that bridge.

  • Guest

    “or unhappy mod makers”

    Well, they already have that one.

  • Hector Ocasio

    Honestly this is what happens when you let a company become a monopoly in a market. it starts to do shady things like this. There are plenty of other sites to buy PC games that don’t contribute to valves profits. People need to just start buying from there. If this paid mods stuff is any indication of what the future is like for valve its time to let steam die off. The essentially killed off all good will they have earned.

    • Peter Houlihan

      I’d agree that Valve’s near monopoly is troubling, but I’m not that worried by their actions: 30% of the profits in exchange for hosting and a marketplace aren’t so bad, and if you don’t like it they’re not the ones trying to prevent donor based modding from existing.

      Bethesda are much more of a concern to me. They have an absolute monopoly (through IP) and, unlike valve, they’re not even offering the modder and consumer anything extra in exchange for their 45%. It’s pure rent seeking. And, if they haven’t already, I wouldn’t put it beyond them to start cracking down on modders who choose to do without their benevolent deal and put up a paypal button instead.

      • Hector Ocasio

        Its 25 percent of the profits once a mod reaches $400 bucks and I believe the payout is paid at the end of the month. Also do you think prices would be consistently low? One this whole mess becomes the new norm we’ll see prices go up and up and it will just be another way to nickle and dime the consumer. Micro transactions, season passes, pre-orders, dlc and this new form of outsources 3rd party dlc.

      • Hector Ocasio

        EItherway you look at it, it doesn’t look good. If they do crack down on modding then more people will just pirate the games. Then they will pirate the mods. They would be shooting themselves in the foot financially but hey maybe not. People still buy games by Ubisoft and EA so the potential future of gaming looks pretty crappy.

        • Peter Houlihan

          I think the return of piracy is coming alright. They’re having far too much fun screwing over the console fans, it’s only a matter of time before they get their courage up enough to take on the PC Masterrace too.

          • Hector Ocasio

            I won’t be surprised if the next Bethesda game is extremely pirated. Just think about how many people would rather get a cracked copy just to avoid the workshop alone.

          • Peter Houlihan

            Well, they ditched the feature, so maybe it’s not so bad.

  • Luke

    “Newell, often referred to as GabeN on /r/pcmasterrace, took to the subreddit for an AMA”
    Link goes to /r/gaming, the way that sentence was worded made me think it went to /r/pcmasterrace.

    • Joshua Garibay

      Thanks for pointing that out! I have updated the article with the correction.

  • bob

    “…….May be completely wrong”???? What was the actual quote? Saying “May be” shows the arrogance someone would have. Buck up, you certainly left it up to the possibility of “May not have been a stupid fucking money grubbing idea.”

  • David Lopez

    You made a mistake, by fixing it, although there’s going to be modders who now have the idea in their heads about making money off this, will also be a warning if any other company tries to do this.

  • The PC Master Race

    Valve does stupid thing
    PC community is outraged
    Valve listens and knows customers are always right. Offers to fix it.

    Better than console tards who take anything the console manufacturers announce and pucker their asses up

    • Yeah, an obvious cash grab is a mistake.

      • Jonas

        That’s a little cynical. Valve takes their standard 30% cut of anything sold from their platform, as they provide hosting, audience, and well, Steam. If this whole thing takes off, sure, they’ll make more money. But so will the modders. Bethesda being greedy beyond compare makes it look pretty fucking awful though. I can certainly find arguments that this wasn’t meant to be nothing but a pure cash grab fairly compelling though. Still doesn’t make it not fucking stupid though.

        • Jurie Boshoff

          I’m pretty sure it went something like “How much should we take?” “Let’s take 45% and the modder gets 55%”
          *6 weeks later*
          “Wait… why does the modder get 25%?”
          *Rage of the community*
          “OH no, we forgot Valve’s share.”

    • TeLin特林

      “console tards” defintely puckered their asses for Microsoft and the Xbone. Yep.

      Gamers need to realize these companies do not give a shit about you. They want your money. Period.

      That include Valve/Gabe.

      • The PC Master Race

        “Console tards” puckered their asses for PS4 paid online

        Valve actually gives a shit about their customers. None of the other CEO’s would do an AMA on Reddit for their customers, would they?

        • TeLin特林

          Keep telling yourself that. A fanboy is a fanboy. Gabe is doing damage control. As per usual.

        • WulfMan

          What kind of a CEO doesn’t know what the fuck his company is doing or is surprised that the internet is pissed off when they throw a half baked scheme to scrape money from the bottom of the barrel?

          He saw a untapped source and used borderline illegal practices to tap it. Gabe isn’t your friend. Pull your head out of wherever you stuck it.

  • Free Hats > Paid Mods.

  • Wonderkarp

    I wouldnt be sad if Valve just scrapped Steam Workshop all together. All the mods I ever wanted were on Nexus or others. And its harder to tweek the mods when they are under steams system.

    • The Black One

      I agree, I think the Steam Workshop is only useful for some games like Killing Floor and Garry’s Mod, but not Skyrim since we have Nexus.

  • I don’t mind the idea of paid mods. But few points: Modders need to make clear if they allow their ( free ) mods to be used for paid mods and if they don’t, this must be enforced heavily. Second: don’t use modders as free workforce to complete games. Third: There needs to be some solution for people who make a half-assed mod, promising a moon from the sky and then leaving people who paid, hanging.

  • Max Squires

    I think the community reaction to this has been embarrassing. Completely overblown bull from a bunch of people who are afraid their modders will want to get paid for the work they put in. The only reason they couldn’t before is because it wasn’t legal for them to do so. Now Valve introduces a way for all parties to get a share and for modders to make more than nothing. In fact, they still allow people to charge nothing for it. It’s insecure adolescents who don’t like change that are flipping out. I hope Valve sticks to their guns.

    • The Black Arrow

      You type like you know what you’re saying but all in all you’re just another hypocrite who loves to point at a “general population” and not give any, let’s say, “proof” or/and source. Is that your opinion? I don’t care, I’m with Francis Bacon after all.

      • Max Squires

        Are you high or twelve? Because there isn’t a single coherent idea in that mess of a comment.

    • Varenvel Darakus

      sorry to say but why developers should get a share out of mods they not created?

      do you pay your car manufacturer for tuning your car and selling it later?

      Do you pay mixer manufacturer for fixing it at home?

      Do apple asks people to pay them for “kits” people need to actually change the batteries because they make screws so noone can unscrew them so apple gets money? no

      and lets not forget its actualy publisher who takes 75% of money not valve , and their decision for mod maker get only 25%

      idea in its core its not bad , donation , paypal links , parteon worked so far well for these moders who need extra cash , and THEY *gasp* get 100% of what people pay

      without big fat lazy publisher coming in and bulling everyone for “lunch money”

      • maxidpimp

        i was reading your comment a noticed you wrote “sorry to say but why developers should get a share out of mods they not created?”. Do you even know what trademark products are? mods are free because its illegal to profit from them because skyrim and all its assets belong to bethesda and if they wanted nobody would be able to make mods. Get your facts right before trying to be an smart ass on the internet

        • Peter Houlihan

          If your only argument in favour of “why should developers be able to do that” is “because it’s the law” then the answer is quite simple: Ditch the law which makes that the case. Problem solved :)

        • Guest

          and why it was implemented in this form? this is only form they can actually profit from others people work , copyright laws DO still apply to mods regardless what you may think or say and if they took these mods and sold them as DLC’s without moders consent they would facing a lawsuit they would win

          Yes its illegal to directly profit for them today except donations who worked well for quite long for some of moders who did that

          I got my things right , just because i not wrote wall post of text dont means i dont know anything

          Developers cant directly sell other people work and never will as long copyrights stand

        • Varenvel Darakus

          and why it was implemented in this form? this is only form they can actually profit from others people work , copyright laws DO still apply to mods regardless what you may think or say and if they took these mods and sold them as DLC’s without moders consent they would facing a lawsuit they would lose within first week

          Yes its illegal to directly profit for them today except donations who worked well for quite long for some of moders who did that

          I got my things right , just because i not wrote wall post of text dont means i dont know anything

          Developers cant directly sell other people work and never will as long copyrights stand

      • Max Squires

        Developers get money because they own the game. This isn’t a car, this isn’t paint. This is like if you took characters from Harry Potter and sold a new chapter starring them.

        Valve takes 30 percent as overhead for hosting, just like with every game they sell on the store. Bethesda is the one who split the rest 45/25.


        • maxidpimp

          Mr Max Squires i completely agree with your opinion and i think paid mods are a good thing for the future of pc gaming because people will be able to live from developing mods and thus make better quality and complex mods that otherwise would not be possible with free mods

        • Peter Houlihan

          Sure, it’s not a car or paint. Those things are physical objects the dilution of ownership of which would have a real effect. By contrast, if someone creates something new which expands on something you previously made, you lose nothing.

          “This is like if you took characters from Harry Potter and sold a new chapter starring them.”

          More Harry Potter books? Gee, wouldn’t that be awful. Everyone knows that HP fans hate fanfics and that someone getting paid for making one would literally vaccum the millions out of JK Rowling’s bank.

          • Max Squires

            You’re completely wrong. The IP is owned by Bethesda. To make and sell a star wars book, you have to pay Lucas, or actually now Disney. To make and sell something related to the Elder Scrolls, you must pay Bethesda. Period.

          • Peter Houlihan

            Yes, that’s the law, just as it’s the law that you can be sentenced to a quarter of a century in prison for cutting down a cactus in Arizona. I really don’t care much about what the law is, I care about what it should be and act accordingly wherever possible. In this case that means not buying skyrim or pirating it if I’m really pushed.

          • maxidpimp

            after all its up to the mod developer to decide if they want to monetize their mods or just accept donations and leave the mod free. why ditch valve for giving more freedom to developers?

          • Peter Houlihan

            Because it’s not really freedom. If they were free to set up a donation button somewhere else and ignore the Valve/Bethesda deal entirely then it wouldn’t matter, but they’re not. AAA studios routinely crack down on anyone trying to make money by selling content which can be used with their game.

        • Varenvel Darakus

          mod itself is copyrighted too

  • ohdatlass

    I personally feel Gabe was a bit vilified in his AMA. He likely isn’t up to date with all the details of this project and did it in an airport lobby while getting updates from frantic employees.

    But Gabe’s response to how successful things like DOTA/CS/TF would have been if they had been paywalled, namely that they wouldn’t have been, is telling. He understands that enforced paywalls can hurt mods and that isn’t the way things should go for PC Modding.

    Other responses of his in the AMA, like Valve shouldn’t arbitrary it’s will on Devs to force community wants but will call them out on their stupidity gives me hope that Valve will try to snark a bit of sense into Devs if they go too far with paid Modding.

    Valve is the 500lb Gorilla and easy to throw rocks at for fun, but they’re not completely evil here. Bethesda is the one that set the profit split.

  • Shadow

    That’s not the PCMR sub, it’s in /r/gaming.

  • RoyceFaeLord

    I don’t get the outrage, if it helps people create large DLC mods then we all benefit.

    • Peter Houlihan

      Unlike DLC it won’t be officially supported, so it’s not guaranteed to work. That and the massive Bethesda tax for which they offer no additional services or benefits.

  • powbam

    I find it humorous that people have been modding TF2 and selling hats, DOTA2 and all Valves other moddable games since 2011 getting paid for the mods to, with 25% cut to the modders and 75% to Valve and Valves paid out 57 million in that time in cuts to the modders selling the stuff and noone cared. At all. But bring the same action to Skyrim, a 3 year old game that has earned Bethesda over 1 billion dollars, and everyone all of a sudden thinks the sky fell in.

    Very funny indeed.

    So go ahead and do your maths people. 57 million which was a mere 25% of the total take since 2011. It was SO frowned upon that people spent around 200 some odd million. Guess the frowners were the minority.

    And then you people sit there and act like children, insane little children, acting so surprised that Valves is seeing numbers like that and you sit there and honestly think that they shouldn’t go Hey! Let’s try to make it so modders on all games have a shot at earning something.

    So lay the blame all you want people, but they made this decision based off the fact that it was actually creating cash flow and business. Which does not happen unless all parties are cooperating.

    • Kamui

      The main difference there is that Valve is taking no responsibility with the mods. When they buy the mods for TF2/DotA2 and such, Valve is essentially taking over the maintenance to ensure that the new content works with the existing game no matter what new updates may happen. One issue I have with this new setup is that if an update to a game or another mod breaks an existing mod that you’ve paid for, the only option left to you is to “politely request that the mod dev update the mod to be compatible with the new version fo the game and/or the new mod”. And once the 24 hour test period has passed, which may not be nearly enough time to properly check all the interactions and such the mod causes, you can’t get a refund at all. Valve taking the 75% cut for TF2/DotA2 moddder content was fine since they also took on the responsibility of ensuring that those mods continued to function properly as the game updated. With this, the modders still only get 25%, but Valve is no longer providing any support to make sure the mod continues to work properly.

      • powbam

        No, I do agree that it needs some work in several areas, most especially tho I think they should do more to ensure developers give the greater cut to the modders.

        As far as “politely requesting” for people to upkeep their mods… treat it like what it is, a mod. These are regular people but I imagine if you make your requests politely you would be more likely to get it otherwise you treat it like what it is… you donating to them if you think the price was fair to begin with and the mod worth that price. Just like if you had donated to them on Nexus and BOOM they disappear… what then? Same freaking thing.

        The good modders that actually do well in the system will be the ones with real skill and talent and level of dependency in such situations. The bad modders will simple fall away the moment the comments about them come out. The cream will be separated from the crap easily enough.

        If you like a mod/modder and think what they’ve done is worth it priced fairly then I see no reason not to support them whether they get ran over by a car and killed in the future or not. It’s called life.

    • Peter Houlihan

      Completely different:

      Valve is reasonably generous with their IP and doesn’t crack down on modders who work outside their system, so it’s a genuine choice. That and they vet the items being offered to make sure they work and will continue to work.

  • june
  • E32015

    If people are playing or buying games coz of mods then devs should be paying mods! It’s just pure greed nothing else

  • MMattinen

    What if a mod breaks after the refund period is over? Anyone who has ever installed mods knows that there’s bound to be bugs, crashes and all sorts of crap that may not be immediately apparent, but appear after hours of gameplay.
    What if an official update from the developers breaks paid mods?
    What if a patch for a paid mod breaks other paid mods?
    What if a mod gets DMCAd or otherwise pulled and it won’t get updated at all anymore and the content promised to the mod’s buyer will never get made?
    What if a person has purchased multiple mods and is unable to figure out which one of his mods is breaking the game?
    What if a modder is unable or outright refuses to fix his mods to accommodate all the other purchased mods (a feat which is no doubt impossible)?

    Oh wait, you signed away all your rights as a consumer the moment you started using Valve’s DRM platform.

    You think this is a shitstorm, Valve? Wait until an expensive and popular mod breaks down or gets taken down and idiots who purchased mods realize they can’t get refunds, and even if they can it’s only in Valve’s toy money. That’s when the real witch hunt starts.

    Valve is receiving none of my money until their idea of paid mods is confirmed dead and buried.

  • Marcus

    What about just a donate button? But free mods.
    This means that people can make a choice.
    Help the developer to make more stuff or not.

  • Friendly_co_modder

    It is a poorly made system.

    Before this system was even implemented i have donated to modders who have made exceptional mods. And as far as I know, they recieve immense support from the community for their work already. Attatching a paywall and then claiming a portion of the profits for yourself is a direct “cash grab” hidden behind a mask of compensation for modders. Now if valve provided a donation page for the modders where I can be at liberty to donate VOLUNTARILY, I would have no issues.

    My main concern is that people will pay money for mods only to find out that they are not worth a single cent of it. The point of mods is to try them out first then decide if its worth donating to the mod owner. Good work deserves compensation, bad work, not so much……

  • Rodney Trotter

    The saddest part about all this is that it has effectively killed interest in Skyrim modding.
    Sure, people are still uploading mods to Nexus and other sites, but the good ones are few and far between, and hardly any of them contain the quality they once did. Even the long-anticipated update to Frostfall is so buggy it’s unplayable.

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