ModDB creator weighs in on paid mods debate

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The debate around paid mods continues apace, despite Valve's removal of the scheme from Steam Workshop yesterday. Many content creators have spoken out in favour of the programme, but now ModDB founder Scott 'INtense!' Reismanis has offered his own take. As the operator of the internet's largest and longest running database for all things modding, Reismanis' take is more nuanced than most.

Collecting a bunch of standard arguments in the debate, including the potential "DRMification" of mods and the profit split between publishers and creators, Reismanis says there's potential for more games to support modding with the introduction of a paid scheme.

"Paid mods will definitely lead to more content, better content and well supported content," Reismanis writes. "It will also lead to more free mods as tools improve, and more developers participate. A healthier mod community is a great thing and if optional (and I must stress optional) paid mod support is how we get there, then I’m on board. More games today support modding because of this potential than ever before, and if once-great moddable games were to contemplate a return to modding if it continues, isn’t that a win?"

There could be negative ramifications however, including "the end of epic total conversions" due to priorities shifting due to the influence of money. The pressure of money is a common thread in Reismanis' argument, but he's also concerned about an influx of "scammers and spammers", as well as the devaluing of "fan projects, parodies" and the exploration of controversial topics.

"If mods are tied to Steam and essentially DRM’d, these projects will be shut down and locked out with no way of existing," Reismanis writes. "Freedom of speech will be difficult to protect when money is involved and the sharks are circling."

Reismanis' post is lengthy and definitely worth reading firsthand. ModDB attracts an astounding 800TB worth of downloads per month.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.