Mods, eh? The fun, free way to extend and/or fix your games. But what's this? Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative looks like a mod, behaves like a mod, and even has the word "MOD" in the corner of its Steam icon . The difference: it's not priced like a mod. This premium package offers a new campaign for Portal 2—one that does away with portals entirely, in favour of puzzles centred around the base game's gels.
A recent trailer provides a brief glimpse at this janitorial nightmare:
"Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Initiative is a mod for Portal 2, inspired by TAG! The Power of Paint," explains the mod's store page . "The familiar Portal 2 gels are now contained within the Aperture Science Paint Gun Device and it's your job to test it out!" The mod offers 27 levels, original voice acting, and an in-game editor and Steam Workshop support. Mod or not, it's a nicely sized chunk of game.
And yes, it costs £5/$7—although there's also a 30% discount for the first week. People will inevitably have feelings about whether mods should charge for content, but, given the shift towards easy-to-use game creation platforms, it does make sense. The modding scene is in a different place now, partly because it's so easy for game creators to pursue their own projects in Unity or GameMaker. If paid-for mods do catch on, it could not only tempt more people back into creating cool new things for existing games, but might also encourage those attempting more ambitious mod projects to actually finish them.
On the other hand, free stuff is great, and the possibility of a healthy amount of free, additional content is sometimes part of a PC game's initial appeal. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual game creators to say whether they're okay with people making money from their game. For Valve, in this instance, the answer is yes—but likely that's decided on a case-by-case basis. Aperture Tag's premium release does feel somewhat significant, but it may not have that great an impact on modding as a whole.