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There has been a growing rumor lately that paid mods for Steam are possibly making a comeback.

According to several sources across the net, the recent Steam update has flagged modded content off the Steam Workshop as “free,” which has spearheaded many rumors and speculation that Valve is revisiting paid content mods again.

Much of the speculation is detailed in a piece by GameRant, which points out that the “free” content line is highlighted by a Steam warning label- the green bars to catch the attention of players, along with a subscribe button. The image above, captured by imgur two days ago, is one example. Officially, all modded content has been reported to now have this green warning label and a subscribe button. 

This caption is on every single mod in Steam Workshop

This caption is on every single mod in Steam Workshop

Apparently there is more possible evidence of paid mods coming back. A month ago, a post on Facepunch by contributor EliteGuy, noted that “Valve just added a ton of strings to the STS related to paid workshop mods, detailing stuff like author controlled monetization, profit splitting and more,” which set off a firestorm of speculation as to what Valve is planning to do with the modding community and other content creators. 

At the time, Valve had already implemented  custom game pass for DOTA 2, where Valve stated that “purchasing a pass directly supports the creators of the custom game as well as granting you extra features for that game. All custom games will remain free to download and play.”

The custom game pass, some stated, was the beginning of a second attempt by Valve to allow paid mods on Steam. The first attempt, in a partnership with Bethesda to bring paid mods to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, ended in failure with both Valve and Bethesda retracting paid mods for the time being after massive consumer backlash. Some of the reasons cited for the failure were the lack of transparency by Valve, an over-reliance on the modding community for self-curation, and the fact that the modding community often uses copyrighted material for their works, which can lead to possible legal troubles over copyright laws. 

We have reached out to Valve for a comment on this possible change, but they have yet to respond to us. We shall update the story when more information is released.

So what do you think about all of this? Leave your comments below. 

Robert Grosso

Staff Writer

A game playing, college teaching, erudite-minded scholar who happens to write some articles every so often. Have worked as a journalist, critic, educator and blogger for over five years now, with articles published (as user editorials) on Game Revolution and Giant Bomb as well as a contributor for the websites Angry Bananas and Blistered Thumbs. Now making TechRaptor my home.

  • webkilla

    Would Valve love another way to nickle and dime the Steam users? Yes

    Do we like the idea of paid mods? Hell fucking no

    – they have to have a way to vet the mods to ensure that they’re not ripoffs of someone’s free mod
    – they have to ensure that the mod uploader/seller is the owner/maker of the mod
    – they have to ensure that the mod has what it promises and/or allow refunds

    the skyrim paid mod experiment proved all these things to be critical – and they were all missing…

  • Reptile

    Yup, Steam doesn’t even bother to quality control games that enter the store, I can’t imagine they doing it with mods. Also it will be virtually impossible to stop people from pirating mods.
    And I have a better idea to nickle from us Steam users: Half Life 3, Left 4 Dead 3, Portal 3 or pretty much any new game. What was the last big game Valve released? Dota 2, 3 years ago.

  • Reptile

    They can bring it back, remove it again, and put it back again, I won’t ever be spending a single cent on a mod, unless the said mod is as big as Counter Strike or Garry’s Mod was to Half Life, that means to the point where it becomes a standalone game.

  • Pesty

    Ha! I knew they’d be trying this shit again at least one more time.

  • That’s likely a glitch, as I have a workshop item for Skyrim and it doesn’t show that green notice.

  • BurntToShreds

    Their first experiment with this failed because they attempted to leap into a well-ingrained community of modders (Elder Scrolls Modders) who were working on Skyrim, a game that around that point was around 4 years old.

    The second experiment should focus solely on mods for a brand new game rather than trying to bring the model to the entire God-damned mod marketplace as it looks like they’re doing.

  • Zepherdog


  • Zepherdog

    That’s too big and specific to be a glitch. Glitches don’t write entire notices and add new buttons.

  • giygas

    That’s exactly what they are going to do. They’re going to introduce it with a new game and it’s going to spread like cancer from there.

  • Eli Wintercross

    It’s messed up… Dlc used to be free, now they’re trying to make mods cost money again… What’s next? Pre-order the v1.5 update fixes?

    Monetising mods is not good for anyone, not even the modders imo.
    I would never charge for my mods, it just doesn’t seem right to me and leaves too much room for lawsuits, drama and hassles.

  • webkilla

    On the plus side, I can only imagine the fun that’ll come out various lawsuits when people upload other ppl’s mods, charge for them, and then get sued

  • Robert Grosso

    Is it possible at all to prevent that though, and if Valve can find a way to do so, would that be a major step in the right direction?

  • webkilla

    If Valve can vet games submitted to Steam, to verify that its not someone who ripped off a dev-build and is trying to sell that as his own – then they should be able to do the same for mods

    The problem is of course that a lot of mods look and work very similarly.

    Equally, this would mean a lot of work from Valve’s side to vet these things – that’s why Greenlight entry costs 100$, to weed out the hustlers.

    But yes, it is possible – its just really hard and bothersome – which is why we fear that Valve isn’t going to do that

  • Has anyone considered that they might just be adding a donation button?

  • Ripoffs of someone’s free mod? I wonder how Marvel is gonna feel over an Iron Man Power Armor mod in Fallout 4 once money starts changing hands.

  • webkilla

    ohhh – great point

    There are tons of skyrim mods that’ll let you do that, or mod in other copyrighted shit

    Marvel, no Disney, will eat Valve alive if they do that.

  • Robert Grosso

    I’ll be honest, I didn’t think of that Rob.

  • ‘salright Rob. I was speaking more to the loads of people elsewhere (and a couple here) who automatically assumed how it would work based on shaky evidence.

  • Le Belge

    Its very simple: a developer make player pay for the mods, i don’t buy the game. And all of his future games.

  • LimmyWinks

    Oh it sees the backlash it saw the first time.

  • DynastyStar

    hopefully if they DO test out paid mods, they at least test it out with a game that is brand new that has no mods. That way it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all of people grabbing different mods and then uploading them like they’re the owner. I have lots of issues with it, but I’m just hoping for the least possible damage being done.

  • Kaytaro

    I for one think paid mods are a great idea…IF the mod developer receives the majority of the money (at least 70%, like regular game devs get) and they’re refundable. Modders should be paid for their hard work, and in turn we get better quality mods. What I don’t like is bethesda and valve trying to turn a profit on the mod devs back.

    Mods make your game sell better, you should be treating modders well. Hell, the space engineers devs PAYS their modders, and even hired some full-time. That’s how it should be done.

  • Andy

    How about just a donate option?

  • Andy

    “Dlc used to be free” No? Sinds the day expansion packs existed, it was a paid medium. DLC is just a crappy version of expansion pack.

  • Andy

    The problem with that is… its the same community. So it just wont work. But the biggest pinnacle with the old system was that Bath/Valv owned your mod.

  • Andy

    “Modders should be paid for their hard work, and in turn we get better quality mods.”

    But this didnt happen the last time.. It wont happen now.

  • BlueLight

    as for ‘not good for anyone, not even the modders”, i have to disagree. Some modders were planning to come back to Skyrim with the promise of getting paid for their work. modding is generally a hobbyist thing which mean it has to take a back seat to other projects in someones life. If they can make a small amount of money from it, then they can make it a higher priority.

    Besides, it didn’t seem to be a problem for the people that made the counter strike mod.

  • Eli Wintercross

    wrong, Morrowind had DLC as well as Paid Expansions.
    The DLC was free.

  • Eli Wintercross

    Nope, it’s bad as shown by what happened in the TES community.
    You see, modding has generally (in my experience) been a fairly open, sharing and community orientated endeavour. Modders would share code, ideas, techniques and so one because the more other modders learn the more cool mods get made.

    Adding money to the mix will kill a lot of that, because suddenly instead of fellow modders being colleagues, they become the competition.
    Secondly, if you’re selling a product, you suddenly have much more expectations placed on you.

    As a modder myself, I see only negatives to come from this. If a modder doesn’t have time to mod then let them go I say, RL always comes first. Turning modding into a business is not the answer.

  • Andy

    Wrong, 1 game isnt what defines as dlc being free.

  • I could believe that if Valve’s still taking a slice from it, which wouldn’t actually be a bad thing if the modder earns more that way while the option to donate directly stays open.

  • The biggest problem is if money can be made easily off of modding, the store will just get flooded with lazy crap, which is what happened last time. Sure, modders can still option to put their work out for free, but I don’t want to have to swim in an ocean of shit to get to it. It’s the same problem with Greenlight, I agree with the principal, but Valve is doing it just to further monopolize, it’s not out of purely good intentions.

  • Eli Wintercross

    There are more games that did similar way back, didn’t realise I needed to fill you in with a comprehensive list.

  • Andy

    Doesn’t matter. DLC was a paid thing to begin with, just like expansion packs. That some do it free doesn’t mean that “DLC” used to be free.

    I can sum up a couple games my self that had free dlc, but all those games had another way for earning money past release.

  • BlueLight

    Battle field 2 released several maps for free which you had to goto there site to download.

  • BlueLight

    Again battle field 2 which release expansion packs…. and maps for free.

  • Andy

    Yup, just like BF3 and BF4. Next to that they had paid expansion.

  • BlueLight

    “Nope, it’s bad as shown by what happened in the TES community.”
    All that shows with one data point, is that how the situation was handled was bad, an/or the community didn’t like it. This example can only be used with the skyrim situation unless grouped with more data points. For all we know this is a outlier. I also pointed out counter strike mod which is now sold on steam & you did not address it. Lets add more to the pile, Day of defeat, Unreal mod Team fortress, and GMod. Maybe we should add DayZ to the pile? How about adding “Angels fall first”. How about the paid mods for Sim3? Then there is Black Mesa mod, now standalone early access game. I also found a game called prospekt but that might have never been a mod. I can cite several products which are paid for mods. I get the impression you think Skyrim was the first and last attempt officially announced currently and neither is true.

    Skyrim is the only time paid mods have had a backlash to my knowledge.

    “Adding money to the mix will kill a lot of that, because suddenly
    instead of fellow modders being colleagues, they become the competition.”

    License your mods under GNU or CC. Bam! That’s what the open source community does in this environment exactly like this. You can find a ton of stuff in the Open source spheres. The only problem is if you want or need something from a brand name. Also i would like to point out there are helpful communities based around unreal engine, Unity engine, and blender which are all products you can make money. This is the complete opposite of what you suggest. There are still fan sites for Sim3 and it seems the engine was more of a problem to the community then paid for mods(Then again I’m not that knowledgeable of Sim3 so maybe i’m wrong.)

    “Secondly, if you’re selling a product, you suddenly have much more expectations placed on you.”
    Only a problem if you’re selling your mod. It’s a non problem and suggest modders will have to polish their mods; users wont care/act like sheeple; or they will make less than average on sales because their product was subpar. If you don’t want the higher expectation, then keep making your mod for free.

    “If a modder doesn’t have time to mod then let them go I say, RL always comes first.” Not the point i was getting at. Lets say i have 2 hours of free time. Normally I’ve decided to spend it gardening. The incentive of getting paid for my hobbyist work might give me enough of a reason to spend only an hour gardening and a hour programing. Dealing with RL has nothing to do with this example.

  • BlueLight

    Wait BF3 had free maps after releases? News to me.

  • BlueLight

    Nexus does that, however the owner has stated there is a very small amount being donated.

  • Sure, it’s completely possible. You’d need a legal disclaimer that absolves Valve of responsibility for your mod and requires that you wholly own and have originally created its content and/or licensed any non-original content within.

  • Nexus doesn’t have anywhere remotely near the reach of Steam, though.

  • It’s not like free mods will go away. That’s like saying “You can get paid to write online, therefore no one will ever write anything for free.”

    I will happily concede that it will be a game-changer, though.

  • Eli Wintercross

    Actually, I’m pretty sure one of the first examples of DLC was TA where they released a bunch of free units.