Skyrim Paid Mods Feature Axed

Less than a week after the feature's announcement and debut, Valve and Bethesda have opted to take down the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. All mods will effectively be free again, and customers that have spent money on one will be granted a refund. All that said, judging by the wording, it sounds like Valve is considering attempting to implement the feature again in the future, probably for a new title's launch:

We're going to remove the payment feature from the Skyrim workshop. For anyone who spent money on a mod, we'll be refunding you the complete amount. We talked to the team at Bethesda and they agree.

We've done this because it's clear we didn't understand exactly what we were doing. We've been shipping many features over the years aimed at allowing community creators to receive a share of the rewards, and in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different.

To help you understand why we thought this was a good idea, our main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid. We wanted more great mods becoming great products, like Dota, Counter-strike, DayZ, and Killing Floor, and we wanted that to happen organically for any mod maker who wanted to take a shot at it.

But we underestimated the differences between our previously successful revenue sharing models, and the addition of paid mods to Skyrim's workshop. We understand our own game's communities pretty well, but stepping into an established, years old modding community in Skyrim was probably not the right place to start iterating. We think this made us miss the mark pretty badly, even though we believe there's a useful feature somewhere here.

Now that you've backed a dump truck of feedback onto our inboxes, we'll be chewing through that, but if you have any further thoughts let us know.

This development comes after days of intense debate, irate feedback (which sometimes unfortunately turned into abuse, as documented by this feature from Polygon about the experiences of two modders who are on board with the initiative) and explanation attempts from Valve and Bethesda. Just a few hours ago, Bethesda had published a blog post explaining why they were trying this new feature, while Valve CEO Gabe Newell had conducted an AMA on Reddit about the issue on Sunday.

In all honesty, even after seeing how much rage Valve and Bethesda's initiative elicited for a number of reasons (while some advocated for mods to remain entirely free, others took issue with the fact that modders would only be getting a 25% cut of the sales), I wouldn't have expected the feature to be removed so quickly. If and when Valve and Bethesda should decide to approach the matter again, it will be interesting to see how they do it, and what lessons they have learned from the last few days. I'd expect them to be a lot more cautious, if nothing else.