The internet may break this week under the weight of Opinions About Paid Mods, but it's worth taking a moment to hear Garry Newman's position. As the creator of Garry's Mod – a fully fledged paid title with origins as a free Source Engine mod – Newman is in the unique position of witnessing the transition from free to paid nearly ten years before Valve's announcement last week.
"It’s probably no big surprise that I’m all for it," Newman writes on his website. "I sold a mod once and everyone was angry that it was happening, until it happened and they got a much better product than they’d have gotten when it was released for free, then they seemed to calm down a bit. It has given me a career for ten years. It’s bought me two houses, a bunch of cars. It’s created a company that has hired 30+ people."
Newman argues that the fledgling modding marketplace will balance itself out eventually, with supply and demand dictating what sinks or swims, and what's paid or free. In this way, free mods will still dominate.
"Some stuff won’t be worth charging for," Newman write. "Some people won’t want paying for their stuff. If a mod takes ten seconds to make and someone wants to charge $10 for it then they won’t sell any copies because it’s not worth it. This is how the market balances itself. They’ll either have to lower their price or make it worth the price."
Meanwhile, those unable or unwilling to pay will inevitably find a way to pirate paid mods, he continues, and the possibility of stolen materials being uploaded shouldn't render the whole operation useless.
"There was a time where they’d almost completely stopped making PC games because of piracy. Should we really let the fact that sometimes people are assholes dictate what we do? Or should we just deal with it when it happens?"
Newman breaks down the pros and cons for each participant in a transaction, admitting that the benefits are weighed too heavily in Valve and the game developer's favour. "It’s obvious that Valve and the game developer need to make money here too, enough to cover costs at least – but it’s the modder’s work that is making the money," Newman said.
"I don’t know whose choice that is though, but it feels like someone is being a greedy asshole. This is something that will get better with time."