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Days later, Steam community is still in an uproar over paid mods debacle

Hayden Dingman | April 28, 2015
It's been four long, tumultuous days to be a PC gamer. We round up what happened this past weekend, from Gabe Newell's Reddit Q&A to mod theft to in-game pop-ups.

It's been a long and divisive weekend for PC gaming. Old idols have fallen. Effigies have been burned. Mobs formed. The palace has been surrounded by chanting masses, calling for the king's head. Or at least calling for the king to maybe, if he would please, change his mind.

To recap: Last Thursday, Valve announced a new experiment allowing developers of game mods to start charging through Steam Workshop. The experiment-in-question launched alongside approximately two-dozen new "premium" mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim--a game with one of, if not the, biggest modding communities in the world.

And as I noted in our coverage last Thursday, people were by and large not happy with this new development. Mods are one of the foremost advantages to gaming on PC, and traditionally it's been offered by developers for free--whether out of love for the game or to pursue a professional job in the industry. The thought of paying for mods, to many longtime PC gamers, is blasphemy. Not only that, but it opens up a legal and ethical can of worms that it appears even Valve was unprepared for.

Below is a relatively thorough recap of all that transpired this weekend.


Less than 24 hours after paid mods went live, we had our first casualty. One of the mods Valve used to promote the new paid mod system was called Art of the Catch, authored by longtime modders Chesko and aqqh.

The problem? Art of the Catch used assets from another prominent modder, Fore. This wasn't a conflict traditionally: All the work was given away for free anyway, so who cared if someone built off another person's work?

But now Chesko and aqqh were potentially profiting off Fore's work without giving Fore a cut. A user on the Steam forums brought this to Fore's attention, resulting in this exchange:

That screenshot started floating around the Steam forums, such as in this thread. Interesting: Follow that link and you'll see users claiming the screenshot surfaced from an account (Linear) that was subsequently banned by Valve (and, they argue, censored).

The end result? Art of the Catch came down, and Chesko--probably feeling burned by Valve-- took to Reddit to air his side of the story. The whole thing is fascinating, but here are some choice bits:

"We were given about a month and a half to prepare our content. As anyone here knows, large DLC-sized mods don't happen in a month and a half. During this time, we were required to not speak to anyone about this program. And when a company like Valve or Bethesda tells you not to do something, you tend to listen.


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