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The Video Game Industry's Monetisation of Mods discussion

monetising mods video game industry community opinion monetising practices

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#1
youg3

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Hey people,

 

So firstly, a full disclaimer.  I’m a student (here's my newbie post for more on me: https://forums.nexus...ent-researcher/researching the effects that the video games industry’s current and previous attempts of monetising mods has had on the online community spaces that encourage the creation of this content.  I’m hoping to gain a greater perspective on how the community feels about these practices in general, and whether or not there has been any lasting effects from these industry attempts.

 

The reason why I’m doing this on mods is because I love mods.  I love trying out the interesting, quirky inventions that members of the community have come up with and I love that games I enjoy playing are actively supported with this wide range of content.

 

With all that said, and sorry for dragging on a little, I would highly appreciate it if we could kick off a discussion/debate on the video game industry’s attempts to monetise mods.

 

  • What do you think of these practices?

  • Are they good for mods and the community or are they bad?

  • Can you provide any examples of the effect it has had here?

  • Can you propose an alternative?

  • Is there an alternative?

  • Can you make a counterpoint to someone else’s post?

 

Some examples of such practices include: Bethesda’s Creation Club and Cities: Skylines Content Creator Packs.  If you know any more, don’t hesitate to add them to the discussion.

 

Any reference excerpts taken from this thread for use within the research will be anonymised.

And finally, if any of you could spare a little extra time, about 5 - 10 minutes, and fill out my survey (https://forms.gle/dLRaESyemqHjvWvS9), I would be hugely grateful.  This will not collect any personal data that could be used to identify and connect you with your answers.



#2
bitoolean

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One common thing I noticed by browsing through hundreds of mod pages these past few weeks is former (usually) authors / modders (call them what you will) leaving the stage / abandoning the project with a sour taste because of the negative feedback or lack of appreciation on the part of the users. My first thought is the users are younger, and lack what might be considered common-sense. The whole situation / reactions feel exaggerated. But indeed actors, while they don't give up on their profession because of being overwhelmed by negative stuff such as being assaulted by fan hordes when they've become a star, don't work for free... It makes sense that mod authors expect something back and getting negative responses would have more of an effect on them. I think mods generally do get good feedback too though, and I expect good quality ones are probably not affected by this negative feedback issue as much / often, since they have a larger user base, which should be a positive fact / feedback / confirmation in itself. But I haven't really been involved much with the modding community honestly, so it's just what I've noticed, and, for this reason, I am not the guy to propose solutions.



#3
Wolfstorm

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Monetization have lead to the current permissions model, and to the Nexus being overwhelmed with main menu replacers, Whiterun overhauls and vanilla-like stuff. It also have lead to the Patreon paywalls, which is a even worse case, as those who pay are not (usually) those who create, so mods are not expanded and tweaked in turn. And since they are not expanded, the scene stagnates, with several "bubbles" of self-entitled authors with their own cliques and fanbases.

 

Also, most modders today seems to have some horror of using the CK, even after having access to the engine fix (and the older executable it requires). One thing I never understood is why people think that xEdit and zEdit are more easy to use than the CK, because my experience tells the contrary. This is, in my view, another consequence of monetization, as it brings elitism, and newbies starts to fear the more powerful tools.

 

Monetization is bad, and I can only imagine how worse it can become, when TES VI is released. Just look at the monetization model Zenimax adopted in ESO and try to figure out how it would work with mods.


Edited by Wolfstorm, 28 June 2020 - 11:18 AM.


#4
Arthmoor

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Monetization did not lead to the current "permissions model". That would be fundamental copyright law, which applies to mods whether money is involved in the equation or not. Monetization is also not evil, bad, or whatever other terms can be invented. It's simply another revenue path available to game companies. It will exist whether we few modders like it or not because the financials clearly demonstrate it makes those companies A LOT of extra money. For those companies who trade stock, this makes their shareholders happy because their investments grow.

 

ESO is an MMO, and if you objectively look into how most MMOs operate, you'll find that ESO is not some special case. They all have cash shops where you can by optional things. Yes, they all do well from a financial standpoint. Yes, some companies weight the content in these shops into the gameplay. ESO doesn't do this though. You having a cosmetic outfit or some fancy mount will not provide you an advantage over someone who doesn't buy these things because the underlying gameplay systems are not weighted to favor it. It's just bling.

 

The problem of modders supposedly being afraid of the CK is an attitude that's often propagated by those people who develop alternative tools and then berate the CK, the games, and the company in general. There are problems with the CK, yes, but there are also problems of a different nature with all of these other external tools as well. No solution is ever perfect. Tools such as xEdit exist as supplements to the CK. They can never be replacements for it.



#5
FrankFamily

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Research should be correct and use precise unbiased language. Unless you want to do a paid-mods internet discussion, which is fine but you really need to decide which you wish to do and act accordingly.

The definition of the word "mod" one can find on the internet very quickly, and which coincides with how most people use it, is:
"A mod (short for "modification") is an alteration by players or fans of a video game that changes one or more aspects of a video game, such as how it looks or behaves." (bolded the relevant piece of information).

Then, what's actually a "player/fan"? We should define that a bit. Certainly not just someone that plays the game because developers do just that, does that make official updates to the game "mods"? Of course it doesn't, because the update is developed by people that are being paid by the company that owns the game to make it and/or it's being published by them. It's, as globally understood, "official" content. DLC's are also not considered mods for the same reason. DLC stands for "downloadable content" and one definition is:
"Downloadable content is additional content created for an already released video game, distributed through the Internet by the game's publisher."

Note it makes no mention of size of the content. As an example of small DLC content we could look at the free DLCs released by CDPR for The Witcher 3. Some being a horse armor set. They are free, they are small and they are DLCs, not mods because they are published by CDPR. On the other end of the spectrum you could look at Skyblivion. It's massive, it's a mod. Because it's made and will eventually be published by fans, it's not official.

So, finally arriving at the point. How is it that you are including Betheada's Creation Club as an example of mod monetization? Do you know who publishes creation club content? Bethesda (the game'a developer) does. Do you know who develops the content? Bethesda's employees and its contractors. We have already established how facts like the employees/contractors playing the game, liking the game or even also publishing mods of their own in their free time, doesn't mean they operate as "fans/players" when they develop the specific content for which they have been contracted to develop by the publisher/developer of the game itself.

TLDR: Bethesda's Creation Club, leaving memes and internet rants where they belong, is not actually "mods", it is DLCs. And therefore it is an incorrect example of "mod monetization". I must say, no offense intented but not correctly identifying the subject of your research is not a great start and likely taints any filled survey.

Addendum: If you want actual examples of "mod monetization" you should look into the Patreon pages some modders run, or, more indirectly, this site.

Edited by FrankFamily, 29 June 2020 - 06:58 AM.


#6
xrayy

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it seems to me that there is a clear tendency and are clear signs that bethesda and others try to suppress free modding more and more in a subtle manner. if i want to install a mod in sse or fo4 i have to check for more and more mods if all parts of the game are correctly updated. if i delay an update because a mod is not updated i can not play another mod because it does not support the delayed version of the game or the other mod. in my opinion this is just a beginning of a scenario getting more and more dependend on game updates destroying the usability of older mods - with a built in "kill old mods" update feature. it surely will kill modding and will frustrate users and modders long term.

I'm really thankful that bethesda does not block modding completely like in dishonored 2 or other games, but maybe it is all just a big test how gamers and modders respond to subtle or rough changes and how does it have an impact on the success of a game release.



#7
youg3

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@Wolfstorm, you talk about the self-entitled authors who I guess are then funded through their Patreon’s.  I don’t suppose you have any active examples?
 
Can someone please state what CK is the abbreviation for so that there’s no misunderstanding in the write up?
 
 
@Arthmoor, is your opinion on this then essentially “business is business”?
 
 
@FrankFamily very interesting.  Can I ask for your sources on the quotes used or am I correct in thinking they're from Wikipedia?
 
As Bethesda’s own states that the content within the club is “created by… the best community creators” would you say that this is more of a “cherry picking” approach by the developer from the community than that of a monetisation practice?
 
 
@xrayy do you think there’s perhaps a correlation between such suppression actions and video games as a service becoming more prominent or can you give an example of an older title that this has happened to?

Edited by youg3, 02 July 2020 - 03:27 PM.


#8
Shadowheart328

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@FrankFamily very interesting.  Can I ask for your sources on the quotes used or am I correct in thinking they're from Wikipedia?
 
As Bethesda’s own states that the content within the club is “created by… the best community creators” would you say that this is more of a “cherry picking” approach by the developer from the community than that of a monetisation practice?

It doesn't matter who makes the content, once it's been contracted by the developers and created in-house, and then released officially, it's DLC.



#9
FrankFamily

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@FrankFamily very interesting.  Can I ask for your sources on the quotes used or am I correct in thinking they're from Wikipedia?
 
As Bethesda’s own states that the content within the club is “created by… the best community creators” would you say that this is more of a “cherry picking” approach by the developer from the community than that of a monetisation practice?

 

The source of the definitions of "mod" and "DLC" is whatever google gave me, which is indeed probably from wikipedia, they are really wide-spread definitions anyway. You are free to properly source a better definition but I'd doubt any wouldn't classify a mod as third-party fan-made content and a DLC as published by whatever company publishes the game or has some sort of bussiness arrangement with said company. 

 

As for the second matter, I think it's important to have the full quote. From https://creationclub.bethesda.net/en:

 

Creation Club is a collection of all-new content for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim. It features new items, abilities, and gameplay created by Bethesda Games Studios and outside development partners including the best community creators.

Most of the Creation Club content is created internally, some with external partners who have worked on our games, and some by external Creators.

 

It does not say it's solely created by community creators, quite the opposite in fact. Which really makes the argument for calling it mods very weak. I think it's clear that if there was no community creator involvement at all people wouldn't call them mods. Same as people don't call Fallout 76's atom shop content mods, they call it microtransactions. But then they go and call Creation Club mods because a portion of it was made by people that in their free time have made mods, which is, honestly, nonsense.

 

And, in any case, as Shadowheard point outs, does it actually matter if they are community creators? They've been contracted by Bethesda to create that content. So, beyond what the marketing says, I think they aren't acting as community creators / modders when they are making that content, they are acting as simply contractors.


Edited by FrankFamily, 02 July 2020 - 11:58 PM.


#10
Striker879

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@Wolfstorm, you talk about the self-entitled authors who I guess are then funded through their Patreon’s.  I don’t suppose you have any active examples?
 
Can someone please state what CK is the abbreviation for so that there’s no misunderstanding in the write up?
 
 
@Arthmoor, is your opinion on this then essentially “business is business”?
 
 
@FrankFamily very interesting.  Can I ask for your sources on the quotes used or am I correct in thinking they're from Wikipedia?
 
As Bethesda’s own states that the content within the club is “created by… the best community creators” would you say that this is more of a “cherry picking” approach by the developer from the community than that of a monetisation practice?
 
 
@xrayy do you think there’s perhaps a correlation between such suppression actions and video games as a service becoming more prominent or can you give an example of an older title that this has happened to?

 

 

CK is the acronym for the Creation Kit used to create and edit mods.






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